Day 8 – Werner Springs to Agua Caliente Creek, 9kms

Today we could sleep in! And I think Meg won the longest sleep in till 7am, stupid jet lag hiking body clocks + sun power. I (Phoebe) was up at 6 reading about the snow pack and making plans. We are all pretty petrified of the snow, which for those at home in Australia, is 80% above average in the Sierras and still blizzarding. Ski season has been extended till mid July and we have been advised to take crampons and ice axes. We have no snow experience and also no equipment for such adventures. I was hoping we could flip up to NoCal and walk north and leave the Sierras till the end, but the whole trail has had higher than average snowfall and will still be covered. Meg and I started chatting while we ate Cheetos in our sleeping bags and our loose plan at the moment is to hike to Kennedy Meadows and then bail out to Colombia and Ecuador for June and go hiking there. Meg has had some hikes recommended to her from friends including walking to the rim of an active volcano! We would return in July and either hike the Sierras or flip up north. We have had a few people try and talk us out of this plan (thanks for your faith in us Goliath and Hobbes), but we worry that we might be going too far out of our comfort zones.

Bingo vs Werner Wildcat

Back in reality the call of a cooked breakfast (our first in 8 days) lures us all out of our tents and across the neighbouring golf course to a Bar and Grill where I eat a mountain of french toast with eggs and bacon. We all drink copious amounts of coffee (still excited by the endless refills) and buzz our way to the post office to sort out our resupply. We haven’t been eating all our food and we posted about half of our 27 pound box to Idyllwild. We are still learning I guess.
We patted a bunch of friendly horses on our slow return across the greens and then really got about relaxing. I read my book (1984, so good) and Meg went and got an Epsom salt foot bath/massage. Caddyshack rolled into camp along with Zippy and Rebecca. We have decided that Zippy is our trail ‘mom’ as she has been giving us good advice as she has walked the PCT before, but we haven’t told her that yet. I hope we walk with all 3 for the next little while.

Leaving civilisation- the gateway

 

We finally left camp after most of the days heat at 4pm. The trail returned to the magical grassy meadows before finding Agua Caliente Creek and following it up into the mountains. We walked along flat wide sandy creek beds shaded with huge old oaks. We passed a weird obstacle course and an eerie old empty campground. 
The frogs are croaking and the stream is audible. I feel better about the snow now we have a vague plan and have all talked about how we feel about it. Plus we are on holidays (!!) and i want it to be fun. My sleeping bag is warm and my head heavy. Goodnight xo

Walking along that ol’ sandy creekbed

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One thought on “Day 8 – Werner Springs to Agua Caliente Creek, 9kms

  1. Here’s some advice you might consider, as well as pass along to other hikers.

    Walking on snow is like learning how to ride a bike – it may seem daunting at first, but it comes fast. It’s not nearly as hard as skiing (downhill or x-country) or snowboarding, so once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straightforward.

    So, how do you acquire enough experience to “get the hang of it”? Simple – go up to Mammoth. The basic advice is to leave KM sometime around 6/15 or later. If you find you have a week or more before that time, hitch/rent a car and head to Mammoth.

    Mammoth has tons of campground space as well as regular lodging. Mammoth has both free shuttle buses and cheap public transportation to get around town or up to the (ski) mountain. Most importantly, Mammoth has tons of easily accessible snow areas that you can practice hiking, falling, self-arresting, glissading, etc.

    Perhaps the best solution would be to backpack up the Coldwater TH towards Duck pass (which you will pass later on the PCT) and spend 2-3 nights. [http://www.mammothtrails.org/destination/39/coldwater-creek/] From there, you can practice all the skills you will need.

    You do this for 6-7 days, and you will begin to feel like a pro. There will be a lot of people tackling the snow – perhaps 15-20 per day. There will be well developed boot tracks following the trail, so it’s practically impossible to either get lost or deal with non compressed snow.

    If you either skip the Sierra or come back later, you will forever regret that decision. If, after spending 4-5 days practicing in the snow you still don’t feel confident, then you should make the appropriate choice. But, I’d be surprised and amazed you didn’t feel like you had it under control, especially if you were loosely traveling in a pack and following standard basic procedures of early crossings.

    Like

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