5/17-5/18/17 PCT mile 566.4
We are stuck in Tehachipi for a few days. Sarah is feeling better all the time but is still weak and has a suppressed apetite. One of the employees of the wind farm gave us a ride in. She lived here. We have been staying at the lesser of the two best westerns in town. It appears we will not be going back to the wind farm to do the 20 miles we missed. At most, we will walk 2630 miles now. Tehachipi is the last town on the trail until Kennedy Meadows (the gateway to the High Sierra) 150 miles away. The trail is isolated here and there are some long waterless stretches. We will be carrying four liters of water to start as well as seven days worth of food. By my unreliable math, this will add about 16 pounds or so to our dry weight. Sarah is conflicted about setting out. Our plan is to get a hitch back eight miles from town and walk back so we can have an extraction point should she not feel able to continue.
The continental breakfast is filled with hikers. The conversations between PCTers has increasingly been focused on one topic: the Sierra Mountains. This year the Sierra had a record snowfall and is not yet melting. The snow line remains at 9000, the PCT travels 400 miles through this region. It consistently stays above 9000′ in this section. The Mountain passes of Fortester , Glenn , Pinchot , Mather and Muir lie ahead and are all above 12000 feet (roughly equal to the elevation of the summit of Mount Adams). These are not trivial miles in the best of conditions. Your speed will be cut in half, above 10000′ you will feel cardiovascular effects. You have to plan your ascents to minimize time on slushy snow and may have to wait out stream fords, some of which can be chest high at certain times of the day. It is remote here and as much as ten days of food must be carried. With the current level of snow , things are much harder than that, it borders on mountaineering. Though we are not unfamiliar with snow travel, we are not mountaineers. Few out here are. In most any other high snow year you could “Flip Flop” skipping ahead and head back south to wait for snow melt. The large snowpack in the cascades makes that a difficult proposition. Waiting for the snow melt will also be problematic as streams will turn into rivers with the rush of fresh water. Everyday someone posting pictures of how much snow there is, but offer no good solutions. Most are leaving the trail before Kennedy meadows and waiting for better conditions. A few are pushing through. Our plan so far is this: To Hike to horseshoe meadows (after Kennedy meadows) and walk the 22 mile road out to the to town of lone pine where we will seek transportation to Sarah’s parents’ house and plan our Sierra resupply strategy and wait a week or two for mountain conditions to stabilize. Then we will drive back to lone pine and hike the 40 miles over forester pass to the town of kearsarge pass. This will be a good barometer of how we can handle the conditions. Of course next week we might have a new plan. Update: I walked the 8 miles and hitched back to town while Sarah rested at the hotel. We hope to leave tomorrow.