Today was pretty extreme, we walked 9miles in 8 hours with only 2 very short breaks and crossed 3 major rivers. Jeepers! Pinecone and I (Quiz) are in bed by 7pm zonked and sore.
After the gangs Whitney assent yesterday everyone decided on a sleep in (6am) but somehow we didn’t start walking till 8 and we all knew we had left our run quite late. We climbed up and over and snow free ridge and started our same old snow game of find the trail with either a gps or following old foot prints up and over steep snow banks. The snow was already getting a little soft by the time we made it to our descent. The original trail switch backed down a steep ridge, but as it was all under snow we only had one option, head straight down. It was very very steep! We ice axed and cramponed up and while Justin glissaded down pretty quickly Pinecone and I had to attend the Little Spoon/Brucey and Princess Layers school for confidence on steep slopes. Essentially they very patiently talked us through the descent and cut steps in the snow. 30 min but what felt like a lifetime later we made it to the bottom, it felt like I had my heart in my mouth the whole time.
With no break for the slow we pushed on as we had come to Wallace Creek, our first crossing of the day. It was no creek, it was a raging torrent that had broken its banks and had formed about 4 different rapids. PL scouted ahead and found a spot where the creek widened and we all crossed relatively easily. It wasn’t too deep, the tricky part was the strength/pull of the water. We defrosted on the other bank, Perk tested the water temperature and it was 39.F so maybe 4.C?
But we couldn’t relax for long as only 1.5km away was Wright Creek. The rest of the day was spent walking in snow, we traversed a small ridge and came to Wright Creek. As expected it was another raging torrent, but this time in a tight Valley causing it to run even harder and faster. We could not find a place to cross so we bushbashed about a mile upstream till we found a meadow and to where the creek widened and calmed down a little bit. On the we Justin and PL attempted to cross at another possible site but after Justin nearly got swept downstream we all realised the force we were facing. We stopped again on the far bank and Perk made everyone (especially Justin) coffee to warm up. We scoffed food and lollies.
After reconnecting with the trail we continued climbing again up onto a huge snowy plateau or high valley. It was beautiful scenery but the 3km valley floor was suncupped to the extreme, with the cups about a foot deep and the snow becoming increasingly slushy. This made hard going of walking, and use of all leg muscles imaginable to not slip and slid too much. We all keep saying how easy this would be with no snow, but not so this year!
We descended gently from the high valley along reasonably easy to follow tracks in the snow to Tyndall Creek. We got an excellent and very daunting view of Forrester Pass which we are climbing tomorrow and is the highest point on the PCT. The creek was another rager and so once again we continued walking upstream looking for a place to cross. The combination of the suncups, slushy snow and a long day started to take its toll and while Justin Little Spoon and PL pushed ahead the rest of us slowed down. While walking and doing nothing out of the ordinary the inner chord that holds my treking pole together broke! I feel like I have had a few gear malfunctions but losing a pole at this time is really bad as they are so important. I thought my expensive Leki poles would be stronger than that but it just looks like a woven synthetic rope holds the whole thing together. Anyhow enough complaining, we continued on up the valley and suddenly the 3 speedsters are on the other side! They had found a snow bridge and had been game enough to try it out. We are so lucky it still exists as the creek has 1m high snow banks on either side, and even without those seems impassable.
We all flop down on a pile of rocks and drink the last of PL’s water and make a game plan. Snow is everywhere and not particularly nice to sleep on so we head for some trees in hope of finding some dry ground. We have mixed luck, there are small patches but most are running with snow melt. Pinecone and I are camped on such an angle that we have had to use our packs and sit pads to even out our sleeping pads. It’s quite comfortable so far so fingers crossed for sleeping tonight. Perk and Justin are sleeping on the snow 😬. Pinecone and I are both quite nervous about tomorrow but we hope to rock it, and stay strong mentally. It’s another world out here, definitely the hardest and craziest thing I have ever done and day after day out of my comfort zone. But if I hadn’t come I would be kicking myself for the rest of my life.