Sunday, June 12, 2011

Day 20 (6/6) Rain in the Desert?!

When I picked my campsite last night my main concern was wind. So I sheltered down next to a nice log, but later when I looked up realized I had found the one hole in the forest canopy. As the rain came down the ground softened up and two of my stakes pulled out, collapsing the tent. I tried to gut it out for awhile, but finally had to jump out in the rain and get everything straightened out again. The tent was soaked, and when I finally woke up in the morning, I had a terrible time drying it out because it was down in the 30’s and the water was frigid. I didn’t actually finish packing until 9am because I had to keep alternating between packing and warming my hands.

The first part of the day was a descent down to Highway 2, before the climb up Baden Powell. We would gain 3000 feet over the next four miles, which was a nice bit of work. The snow started around 8,000 feet, and the last 300 feet to the top were solid snow. I gave up on following the trail and cut my way straight up, digging my shoes into the snow and supporting myself with my trekking poles. After falling forward a few times to save myself, I finally gained the ridge. Man, what I would’ve given to have boots with a real sole and tread on them. We came within a few hundred feet of the summit, but my legs were so tired that I decided to skip it. I later heard that it was an easy walk up, so its too bad I decided to pass it up. The view from the ridge was amazing - one side was all clouds with a few mountains poking out, and the other was all clear to the horizon. I couldn’t tell if I could see the Sierras or if they were distant clouds, but I was informed on a good clear day that you can see Mount Whitney. The trees on the ridge were all shedding ice, so as I kept walking I had to watch out for falling projectiles. Detour and King Toot went on ahead, and we kept leapfrogging each other all day.

The majority of the rest of the day was a descent back down to Highway 2 (for the 3rd time), and then back over a set of hills, and down the the highway for the 4th time. Usually I don’t mind the fact that the PCT takes a scenic winding route, but it doesn’t help to be reminded that the short route would be 4 miles when you walk 40. To illustrate (and I hope this displays correctly / sorry if it doesn't), imagine that double lines are the road, and single lines are the trail.

   ________         _____
  |___     |___    |__
      |        |    __|
|    _|        |___|

The circuitous route is usually fine, but when you are constantly reminded of the fact that there is a much easier path, it can just be depressing. We would end up crossing this same road 7 times over three days, and it was mentally wearing for me. I camped with Detour and King Toot on top of a hill just past the fourth crossing on a nice sandy flat. I had to set up the tent again to dry it out, so this makes two days in a row sleeping inside.

Miles Today: 20
Total Miles: 390

Photos: North & South from Mount Baden Powell

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