Date: July 31 Location: north base of Mt Thielsen Days hiked: 10 Days left on first segment: 5 Miles hiked: 160 Avg. Per day. 16.0 Percent of journey completed: 35.3
I knew we would hit snow on the Pacific Crest Trail. I had no idea we’d be going through 10-foot drifts, one notched boot print at a time. After a snowy but hot segment north from Crater Lake, it was decision time. Nieces Carrie and Molly Petersen had joined their dad, Glenn, and I for four days but this wasn’t exactly the “fun part.” Glenn decided that the three of them would head for lower elevations, hiking to Diamond Lake. Meanwhile, I teamed up with new trail friends Roadrunner and her husband Cisco to continue on the PTC, which, with elevation gains go 7,600 feet, was only going to get more difficult.
It made good on that promise. We did 16 miles, the last 7 in snow wrapping around mountain after mountain, including the grand finale, Mt. Thielsen.
You might have a quarter-mile of dirt trail, then 17 drifts. They look like giant white whales. Up you go, trying to avoid slipping into a tree well. Then down. Repeat. Repeat.
Besides the physical challenge, you’re constantly losing the trail because the snow wipes out all. The only reason I’m safe inside of a tent in the 7,000-foot shadow of Thielsen is the guidance of Roadrunner and Cisco. Not only did they allow me to join their trip north from California to Canada, but they are bloodhounds in boots. Honestly, I’d have to have turned back without their help.
This is one tough year for PTC travel. We didn’t see a soul on the trail today. Fewer than a dozen hikers, most having left Mexico in April, are leaving footprints in front of us.
But after one more day of snow travel, we’ll descend to 5,000 feet at Summit Lake and be out of the snow for good. I will reunite with Glenn at Summit and Roadrunner and Cisco will continue their pursuit of the Canadian border, with my deepest thanks for helping guide a guy who needed guidance.
They talk about “trail magic” on the PTC. I found it in this wonderful California couple