PCT: 1100.7 – 1120.8
Total Miles: 1194
Elevation gain: 2749
Last night was as windy as I’ve ever heard. Hard to sleep with the blasting wind. The morning was cold and windy but no snow yet. I had to climb up a pass called Dick’s Pass. It was over 9k feet. The wind at the top was so harsh I had to squat while I walked to prevent being blown off the trail. Reminiscent of the knife edge in Goat Rocks, OR.
At about 11 am, it started snowing. I also got lost for about 1/2 hour. One of the problems with using GPS on my phone is, if a drop of water gets on the face of the phone, it starts going crazy; flipping all over like I’m tapping all over the face of the phone. When raining, I can sometimes cover the phone enough to keep the face dry while I’m trying to read it. Snow blows all over the place and will get the face of the phone wet no matter what you do. So I had no GPS and couldn’t find the trail. Quite frustrating. I finally found it and hiked on, but it wasn’t long before the trail was covered in snow in some parts. Fortunately, I was able to use several tricks to keep on trail. Usually, the trail with snow on it, dips a little lower than the snow around it. When it doesn’t, you look for where the shrubs end on the edge of the trails. Also, when it’s really tough, you can find sawed tree stumps and logs that were cleared by trail maintainers. It is always a relief to find a sawed log. Of course, occasionally you get lucky and there’s a trail marker sign. The hardest sections of trail to find are the ones in rocky areas. It’s tough to find the trail when everywhere you look is snow covered rocks.
I made it to a lake where I planned to camp. It was dark, wet, cold and I was tired. I started stamping down the snow where I was to pitch my tent and I heard voices. This is always a little startling as you are alone all day and don’t really expect anyone to be crazy enough to be as deep in the wilderness as you, especially at this time of the year and in the snow. I saw two guys on the trail, stopped and talking to each other. I stood still for a moment then one of them waved to me. I waved back and walked over to talk to them.
One of them was hiking the Tahoe Rim trail, which coincides with the PCT in this section. The other guy was his dad and joined him for a small section. They said that there is a Sierra Club hut nearby and they were looking for it. I joined them as that sounded way better than sleeping in the wet snow.
It was a little tough to find the hut in the dark, so we split up. In about 20 minutes we heard the dad shout out. He found it. It was a beautiful hut. My experience so far with these huts was not good. They are usually rugged, smelly and open to the elements and bugs. This one was clean with lots of space and well sealed from the outdoors. It had 2 wood burning stoves with lots of split firewood, paper, matches, etc. There were two large picnic tables and a nice couch downstairs with a large, clean floor upstairs.
The young guy was all over splitting wood for kindling and getting the fire going. I had to go back out in the dark, cold to get water from the lake as I was out. Somehow, I managed to hike all day on one liter of water. Never did that before. I may have mentioned before that I’m useless as a navigator. I can spin around once and no longer know where I am. It often gets me in trouble. I went out seeking the lake 3 times without success. Each time coming back to the cabin for more instructions from the other guys. They must have thought I was a moron. I finally found the lake and got my water. By then, they were ready for bed and I still needed to cook dinner and prepare to sleep. They were kind enough to give me the couch, which was glorious to sleep on. They each took a picnic table for their beds. The young guy kept the stove going all night and we dried all our wet clothes and boots near the stove.
It was sooooo much nicer sleeping in the warm cabin than out in the cold, wet snow.
This was the outhouse at the cabin. You climb up to the second floor with the ladder, then climb down a ladder inside to the two seater toilet. This is because during the winter, the snow can reach the 2nd floor and you can’t get in on the first floor.
The same philosophy of 2nd floor entry applies to the cabin, but there is a down stairs door for convenience during the summer.
Lots of wood inside and outside the cabin.
Angry clouds ready to snow some more…
Bill (Blackhawk Down)