Day 72: On The Snow Again

Date: June 20, 2017
Miles: 1207.4 – 1221.5 

We started the day on snow again, and over the miles we tried to keep to the trail but it was almost completely buried. 

Patches of forest meant going up and down mounds of snow or just going straight up hills. Coming down was more challenging, especially since we no longer had ice axes and crampons. There were several steeply angled hills that we had to traverse, where a fall would mean sliding fast into rocks or big tree wells. Cutting steps across the slopes took forever, especially for me. Matthew and Roi have longer legs than I do, and I had to cut two steps for every one of theirs. I fell many times, twice having to self arrest with my hands and feet. In one downhill stretch where we’d ordinarily follow switchbacks down a steep grade, we had to back down a steep snowfield on our hands, knees and feet until we reached rocks, scramble over a small waterfall, and cut steps into a snowbank in order to make any forward progress. 

Matthew, leading the way down the hill.

I am terribly slow and awkward on snow, so I make the group’s progress that much more tedious. They’re good guys, though, and they check often to make sure I’m doing ok. The rest of the day consisted of more snow, blowdowns, stream crossings and route finding. 

A couple miles before we completely gave up for the day, we were passed by Breeze, the fastest hiker I’ve ever seen go past me. We talked to him for a bit and learned that he did the 700 miles from Campo to Kennedy Meadows in one month and has already finished the entire Sierra section. He remarked that it was the third hardest thing he’s ever done in his life, and that he almost died in a river crossing. Then he took off and was out of sight in a matter of seconds. After that, we decided to camp about a mile up the trail at the West branch of Nelson creek, and I washed my dirty, bruised and scratched up legs in the coldest water ever. 

A deer walked right past my tent and looked in as I was getting ready for bed. I’m not much for omens, but I will take it as a sign that the hiking tomorrow will be a little smoother. Because I can make up whatever signs I want. 

Found: teddy bear in the woods. We made the guy who hates extra weight carry it.