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[pct-l] s'no worries
> From: BLISTERFREE@delphi.com
> Sent: Sunday, March 1, 1998 5:08 PM
> To: email@example.com
> Subject: [pct-l] s'no worries
> Alright, so El Nino is for real after all. And it seems the larger it
> for the west coast, the less I'm reading on this list of the plans for
> fellow '98 thru-hikers. So, as California, perhaps temporarily, gets
> reprieve from the rain and snow, let me get all worried and doubting
> a minute or two...
> What is the wisdom among those who _know_ the PCT...
> Is this year already guaranteed to be one resulting in what Jardine's
> classifies as "Heavy Snowpack" (ie snow slogging interminably, route
> ad infinum, mountaineering in the high passes)???
> If El Nino were to turn around at this very moment, leaving the PCT
> route to
> a more normal weather pattern thru California, could a "medium" or
> "light" snowpack situation possibly result in time for an early May
> departure date?
> Would it make much difference to leave on say, May 20, vs. May 5, for
> instance? Would leaving two weeks later help the situation to any
> noticeable degree?
> One thought I had, should El Nino wreak total havoc, would be to
> wait out most of the melting process, start later, and go only as far
> as the
> California/Oregon line (Ashland). I'm reluctant to do this, though,
> for fear
> of being far behind an already small pack of hikers, and thus being
> alone for three months.
> A genuine lack of discussion of this very real snow dilemma indicates
> maybe all interested parties online have jumped ship, and are awaiting
> more favorable year to thru-hike this trail. I'm just not sure what
> best course of action for myself is at this point. Food is bought,
> parcels aren't packed, and plane fare isn't purchased. I'm still
> flexible, but not for long.
> And the voice in my head which says this isn't _my_ year for this hike
> trying to persuade the rest of me to head back to the Appalachian
> rekindle some memories, make some efficient training miles, and set
> for PCT '99.
> All opinions welcomed.
> - Blister>Free, AT '96-'97, PCT?
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I live in San Jose California, so I've learned a healthy respect for El
Nino. Most Bay Area communities have 200-300% of normal rainfall year
to date. We had record rain for the month of February by the 10th; and
it was the 3rd rainiest month ever with over 100 years of records. Some
coastal mountain areas reported over 100 inches of rain during February.
What does this mean to the PCT? Look at the snow records. There is
above normal snow pack, but it's not a record. There's less snow now
than there was last year at this time. Why? It's been warm. I went
snow camping in late January in the Tahoe area and could barely find
enough snow to dig a snow cave! (But by the first week of February
there was plenty. Four feet fell on my group in just one night!) The
real test will be what happens from now on. Last year, March was very
sunny. No big new storms came through and the snow melted fast. In
'83, the last big El Nino year, there were cold storms all through March
and April. That would create "heavy snowpack" conditions.
Will that reduce the number of PCTers? Yes. But with proper training
equipment and determination, the Sierra can be traveled, even in winter.
You can skip ahead and come back to the Sierra later in the year. You
can start late, hike fast and see how far you get before winter sets in
again. And there's always next year.
Snow melts fast in the Sierra because it's so sunny. Spring skiing is
very popular. People ski in shorts and tank tops and curse the slush.
So yes, a few weeks can make a huge difference in the difficulty getting
through the Sierra. Look at how fast the snow melts back on those depth
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