When last I left you, storms were brewing over the Sierra. After 10 days of waiting out the weather, and being told the snow in the mountains would continue for two more weeks, we decided to stop waiting and hit the trail.
The next day, wet feet from fording frozen creeks became the norm. Creek levels are always higher at night than in the morning, and we found ourselves crossing a raging Tyndall Creek right before bedtime. We woke up to climb the much-feared Forester Pass, a snow-covered V-notch between two mountains, the highest point on the entire PCT at 13,200 feet. Though we were the first up it that day, we looked down to see nearly 15 people behind us—a veritable expedition up and over. Although we were climbing straight up hard packed snow, admittedly, Forester was much easier and less scary than all the rumors had led us to believe. The snowfields as far as the eye could see did make us feel like we were in Alaska, though.
Greetings from Big Bear Lake, California, mile 265 of the Pacific Crest Trail! It’s so strange hiking in Southern California again. I guess most of my previous desert hiking was in the cooler months because it has much hotter than I remember! The water situation hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting (haven’t gone thristy yet). We hiked for the first few days with Super Dave, a fun lawyer from Virginia, who had a hard time adjusting to the heat. I encouraged him to eat dinner and drink water from a cache. I hope he made it!
We’ve seen 4 rattlers so far, the fattest of which I walked by without even noticing it. I must say hiking uphill in the full sun (no shade) with 104 degree heat is quite exhausting! Everything in the desert is more prickly than I remember. The views, though, have been amazing. It’s so strange to look at the smallest hills here and think that they are bigger than even the tallest mountain in CT.
We did get to see a bit of snow coming around San Jacinto. The contrast between the snow and the outrageous heat has been a bit mind boggling. The 8000 foot descent down Snow Creek was crazy wild. A Desert Water Authority guard gate and incredibly xenophobic neighboring residential community prevent dayhikers from going up this section of the PCT (unless they swiftly and sneakily avoid the guards), which means this trail gets little traffic or grooming. I thought of all of my friends who have snuck past the guard gate to do Snow Creek and how lucky I am to be a PCT hiker who the guard actually welcomed with a smile. What a strange contrast!
We’ve had some great kindness from trail angels, many who cache water for us in the desert where there are no streams or springs nearby. Another kind trail angel brought us sandwiches and popsicles.