[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[pct-l] Southbound start date (plus thoughts from last year)

Just to provide a recent data point, I left Manning Park last year for a
SOBO on July 31st. I could have easily started in early July, based on snow
conditions, but other personal commitments dictated the late start. I did
make it to Campo on Nov. 20th, but I had to walk through or around snow in
the Sierra, Tehachapi?s, San Gabriel?s, San Bernadino?s, and San Jacinto. I
was coming off Whitney on October 16 when the first of a series of storms
hit SoCal. 

Leaving a month (or more) earlier would have made for a different hike in
several ways:
* I?d have felt slightly more relaxed about my chances of making it through
before the snows. This probably would have translated to more zeros, naps,
and swims.
* I?d have had more resupply options. Most of the near-trail Sierra places
(Toulmne, Red?s, VVR, etc.) were closed for the season. Even the caf?/shop
at Burney Falls was closed when I was there Sept. 21.
* I?d have had more light. With the cold short days, hiking time went down,
bag time went up. I love my bag, but I?d rather be moving.
* It?d have been warmer. It was freaking cold much of the time.
* I?d have had more bugs. I touched DEET only once or twice. That?s nice.

Then there?s some of the other realities of SOBO:
* I met, though usually only briefly, most of the NOBOs. Very cool.
* The sun is in your eyes a lot & you?re often facing the shadowy north
faces of the mountains. My better photos were taken facing north.
* Even if the snow comes & goes, the last place it clings is the north
faces, so you often slog up (instead of slide down) the passes.
* In late season, you might be alone. I personally love that. I had about a
50-mile stretch in the heart of the JMT, with crisp clear weather, to
myself. It gave me goosebumps.
* If you?re not in a pack of folks, you just might get some undivided,
generous attention from the beloved angels. I did, undeservedly so.
* Late season desert is nice, but awfully brown. Flowers are rare, and the
few snakes are real slow.

Sorry for being a tad random, but I just thought I?d share. NOBO/SOBO, it?s
all good. It?s all incredible, in fact. I?ll probably do this trail again.
(But first, I?m off to the CDT in May ?- this time with the sun at my back.)