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[pct-l] EARLY '03

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Lynn writes:

> I really want to leave at the beginning of april, and I have a fair
> amount of snow experience, but does anyone out there have a good sense of
> what
> it will be like to hit the sierra's a couple of weeks early?  Is anyone
> else
> leaving this early?

Tom Reynolds, a section hiker and I, an yesteryear PCT hiker, follow the snow
fall in the High Sierras every winter and make our predictions, usually in
early March, for the perfect starting time to enable a thru-hiker to get
through the Sierras at the earliest.  We base our predictions on the amount
of snow fall that has accumulated to that point and reference how the meltoff
timing has been for similar years in the historical data. We usually qualify
our predictions for "passable conditions" relative to a hiker's skills and
equipment.  Thus, if you are skilled in light snow conditions and have
experience with ice ax and crampons and are willing to carry these, then you
can leave earlier.  If you're not into that then you're likely to leave later
and maybe plan to average higher mileage.

In a previous post several of us outlined the pros and cons of entering the
Sierra early versus late, relative to weather, mosquitos, bears and people.
Check the archives and look for Tom's and my predictions later.  Be
fore-warned though, Tom has been wrong every year! ;-)

In the driest year on record, 1977, I left the border on April 2nd and
reached the Sierras on May 2nd.  I was considered a fast hiker back then but
now would be considered to be average.  Although there was almost no snow in
the Sierras when we reached it, a late snow storm hit many of us and caused a
couple parties to be rescued, a couple to jump out and a few to risk their
lives going on under the conditions.  You get what you get and you adapt to
it the best that you can.

In my opinion, if you choose to go early, go prepared in skills and equipment
and try to be as flexible in schedule and options as you can.

Best regards,

Greg "Strider" Hummel