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re: Re: [pct-l] re: pct-l-digest V1 #48

bturner@enaila.nidlink.com (Bob Turner) Wrote:
| snip
| >>Bob, last year was around 130% of normal.  I left 
| Kennedy Meadows on June 10
| >and took 10 and a half days to get to Muir Trail Ranch, 
| averaging about 14
| >miles a day.  Lots of snow.  I heard later that those who 
| left Kennedy Meadows
| >a week later had an easier time crossing the High 
| Sierras.  For one thing the
| >steps are already in place.  You just need to follow them 
| up over the passes.
| >
| >
| >So, this is what I have observed.  Keep track of the 
| amount of rainfall we
| >get, at 100% of normal, 2nd week of June sounds ok, at 
| 130%, leaving Kennedy
| >Meadows the third week of June sounds ideal.  Either way, 
| if the steps are
| >already in place, you'll have an easier time crossing the 
| High Sierras and
| >maybe safer.  Of course, when the snow melts, you have 
| the creeks to contend
| >with and they are formidable.  They will get your feet 
| numbed till they hurt.
| >Still, the Sierras was definitely one of the more 
| memorable stretch of the
| >PCT.
| I figure formy time table I may have to push through the 
| Sierras regardless
| of the snow level.  Not too much problem, done lots of XC 
| in the
| backcountry, and some snowshoeing.  Did you just walk on 
| the snow while it
| was fairly solid or use snowshoes, or what?
| I should go back and review your www page from last year.  
| Followed you and
| Jeff a bit that way.
| BTW did you have any problems transitioning after the 
| trip?
| Bob & Bug

Typically, we reached the base of the high passes when the sun has been out 
for about 3 hours or so.  That makes the top layer of the snow soft and you 
can dig into it without sinking.  For safety, you would want to have an ice ax 
going over the passes, especially Forester Pass and Mather Pass.  The others 
you might be able to get away with.  I would keep the ice ax until after 
Sonora Pass unless you take the alternate route down Sonora Pass.

For example, Mather Pass, it took us all day to get up and over it, and only 
travel a little over 9 miles.  We got to the South Fork of the Kings River and 
that was so wide, it took sometime to find a crossing.  A few, about a week 
ahead of us had to hike upstream for some time before finding a place to 
cross.  After that river fording, we headed towards Mather Pass.  We followed 
some steps at the left side of Mather Pass that angled up from the base to the 
pass.  Where the trail was had lots of boulders, loose rocks, and steeper.  We 
were about 30 feet or so from the top before the snow became near vertical.  
We noticed the track turned left and went up over the rocks, straight up.  One 
hiker attempted to scramble up and going to the second ledge, he slipped and 
fell back to the first ledge.  We decided then we were not going to go that 
route.  Perched up there, the option we chose (there are others like turning 
back) was to continue heading towards the pass just above the cornice which 
was at the center of pass.  About 10 feet from the top, we started digging 
into the snow on our left to get more shoulder room.  On our right is open air 
dropping I guess at least a couple of thousand feet.  Folks I spoke with who 
caught up to me at Oregon mentioned they went through Mather Pass a week later 
and the route that we made was well established that folks managed to get up 
with no problems.

Gear wise, when I don't have to kick steps, I used running shoes.  When I'm 
kicking steps, I used my boots, the Raichle Eiger from REI that weighed 2.5 
lbs each.  They were heavy but they definitely dug into the snow.  I didn't 
see anyone using snowshoes or skis.  Going down, folks would either glissade 
or plunge step.  Even crampons only come in handy when it's really icy or for 
walking on wet logs when fording creeks.

Regarding time schedule, the Sierras is definitely a big factor.  If you're 
behind schedule, you can catch up going through Oregon.  Even Letitbe and 
Psycho Ken had to hole themselves up for about three weeks in town before 
continuing through the Sierras.  Letitbe and Psycho Ken were the two yo-yo 
hikers who went from Mexico to Canada and back to Mexico last year.  I met 
them around the White Pass area in Washington in early September.  Last I 
heard they managed to break through the Sierras before snow started falling, 
so I think they made it back to Mexico.  They were three weeks behind their 
schedule and they made it up.  By the time you reach Oregon, doing a 25 mile 
day is not hard.  If you're a flyer, then a 40 mile day is possible.  

Transitioning problems, more of the lost than anything else.  My web page has 
a piece about what I felt a week after I reached Canada.

Take Care and Good Luck, Ben
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