We started hearing horror stories about the snow on the trail while in Stehekin 9/28-9/29, but by the time we got to Mazama and Winthrop 9/30, the stories had whipped into a terrible tale of impassable “walls of snow,” irreconcilable avalanche and hypothermia dangers, etc. etc. There’s a great blog post that talks about the chaos on the PCT during this time and about the ill-fated group that headed north one day ahead of us (October 2).
I decided to ignore the stories and see for myself. By then I’d learned that fear-mongering was really shit-thick on the trail, and that it did me no good.
I formed a team of four for safety (including a South African who had never seen snow before), and waited for the weather reports to look just so, and went for it…
An extra day or two of food, an extra fleece layer, crampons, and snowshoes. There, ready!
Walking over walls of snow
It was a tricky four days of cold and wet feet, postholing, and way-finding, but it was also super fun. I love snow. Turns out two of our team, , had a romance brewing (a total surprise for me) and they split off, leaving Cherub and I to hike as partners. This was great, because Cherub was my favorite person, and it was charming to see her learn all about snow and tough it out to the end despite a serious tendonitis. She’s one tough chick!
As far as the snow and weather went, it was amazing what a difference one day made. I’m super thankful to the crew who went out the day before and blazed trail, as they did the bulk of my navigating work for me. But I’m also super thankful I waited a day. Their first day out looked hellish, whereas my group had pretty good weather all four days.