Day 53: Left Behind

6/11/17 8.2 miles PCT Mile 778.4

It’s hard to want to wake up when your tent is covered in frost and the first thing you have to do is cross a freezing creek. A lot of the “creeks”  in the Sierra are now small terrifying rivers. All that snow has to go somewhere. After several snoozes and Matt saying just 15 more minutes we packed up and starting looking for the best place to cross Wallace Creek. We walked back up to the meadow to see if there was an easier crossing. The meadow helped the creek branch out but there was still a channel that was running quickly. Matt said the PCT crossing would be the best, so we walked back down to that crossing. It wasn’t running very fast but it was thigh level and long. I like to make Matt go first so I can see how deep it is and if I need to take my pants off or not. It was gonna be a pants off crossing. After seeing Matt safely cross, I took my turn at the freezing water. I did fine, but the large heavy pack adds an element that will surprise you if you shift your weight too quickly. As I was almost out I heard someone yell we have a fire over here. I ran straight past Matt to the fire. I didn’t care that I only had my underwear on and I had never meet two of the people sitting at the fire, my legs were freezing. After struggling to put my frozen legs through my pants I introduced myself. Bucket a guy we meet yesterday while Matt was having an “emergency” started the fire for Creamer and Afghan the other two hikers who crossed the creek at 5:40am. It was nearly 8:30 now, they said they were freezing and they could not feel their toes. Soon after Dave another hiker we meet yesterday crossed and we all set off down the trail. The trail immediately began to climb and I noticed that Matt and I were both starting to get acclimated to the elevation as we didn’t have to stop every 20 feet to catch our breath. The climb was on dry trail which was a nice surprise. It didn’t last long as we were soon back in the snow and would not see the trail again for most of the day. We then came to our second creek crossing of the day Wright Creek. It was very clear we would not be crossing where the trail goes as the water was swift and deep.

Can’t cross here

We started trudging up river with Bucket and Dave looking for a safe crossing. It took about a half mile before finding the creek meandering through a meadow. We found Creamer and Afghan here already in their underwear ready to cross. I yelled, “underwear party.” They seemed slightly embarrassed so I said don’t worry I’ll join you soon. They crossed linking arms and only halted once. Bucket crossed next and he doesn’t use poles which makes it seem way harder. I decided I was gonna cross in a different spot but once I started I realized it was to swift. I went back to where the others were crossing and went in. The water was deeper then I liked, coming all the way up to my undies. There was one spot when I couldn’t get my pole down and I was sure I was gonna fall in. Luckily I didn’t, I reached the shore and ran up a snowbank through the snow to a dry patch of land where the others were letting the sun dry them. I watched as Matt crossed and he came to the same spot I halted and imagined him falling in. Why does the mind always think the worst will happen? The 6 of us dried off and set off in the general direction of the trail. When the trail is covered in snow, you often take the shortest path, which means you no longer switchback up a hill and instead go straight up. This is exhausting as the climb is steeper and you are doing this on slushy or icy snow. Matt and I seemed to be the slowest so we relied on the others and followed their tracks. After what seemed like forever we climbed to the top of a ridge where we were in a small valley between two mountains. There was a rocky outcropping where the others were sitting. 

When I got there I knew I needed to eat. In case you already didn’t know this I’m a very picky eater. I prefer the finer foods in life, which is not possible out here. Matt use to do most of the cooking when we led normal lives and can attest to how difficult it is to cook for me as I like a lot of variety. Matt would often say, “how about blue cheese chicken pasta tonight.” I would say, “no we just had that two weeks ago.” I’m practically gagging food down at this point as I’m so tired of everything. I don’t expect people to understand this as I don’t, but it’s hard to be inspired to eat a bar that tastes like cardboard. I whined to Matt that I could no longer eat this food and there is no way I could be out here for 10 straight days without “real” food. The elevation also makes it hard to eat. It’s as if the energy required to eat is gone as my body fights to provide itself with the necessary amount of oxygen. I then went down a worm hole of negativity about how much harder snow travel is than I thought it would be. I heard it would be hard and your mileage would cut in half, but until you’ve experienced it you’re not sure it’s true. Well it’s true. Snow travel is not fun and I began to question if this was worth it. If there was only a few days of this it would be fine but the snow and rivers are only going to get deeper as we travel north and cover some 300 miles. I asked Matt if he was still having fun and he said, “yes.” I said I was not having fun as I was exhausted and we hadn’t even gone that far and still had several grueling miles ahead of us. The others had left at this point and we set off following their tracks.

My mood began to improve as the food fueled my body and the next 1.5 miles had a nice trail cut out by other hikers footsteps. It suddenly felt easy again but I knew it wouldn’t last.

Easiest walking in days

In the distance I could see a meadow that would feed a creek that we would soon have to cross. 

I thought it was Tyndall creek and was excited when we found an easy snow bridge to cross. I yelled yippee as I crossed and found the others having lunch. They quickly burst my bubble and said that wasn’t Tyndall creek. Damnit! I had heard Tyndall creek had a snow bridge and was hoping it was still intact. When we got to Tyndall creek there was no snowbridge so we began walking upstream. 

Tyndall Creek

At each bend I anxiously looked for a safe crossing but found none. I looked upriver and saw the hikers we have been with all day so I knew we still had a ways to go as they were still walking. Then in the distance I saw a snow bridge and that the others had safely crossed. 

Matt crossing the snow bridge
Snow bridge over Tyndall Creek
It was a relief to cross the last creek for the day and all we had to do now is hike 4 more miles to the base of Forester. The six of us planned to camp at the base and then climb the Pass the following morning. The approach to Forester was long and the wind began to pick up as the temps dropped. 

Forester Pass is in the V above the snow tracks

Matt I were lagging and I was starting to get hungry as we neared the approach. I noticed the 4 others hikers stop and start to put on their crampons. I was about 100 yards away and yelled are you guys going over. They said, yes, it’s too cold and windy. It was 5:30 and I thought it was crazy they were attempting the Pass at night since you should go in the morning when the ground is still frozen. I yelled that we would camp here as planned. Matt was feeling nauseous and I knew I didn’t have enough energy to climb the Pass and then descend down to a snowfree campsite. I saw a rocky outcropping behind us and hoped there would be a flat spot with shelter from the wind that was blowing in every direction. We walked back and watched the others start climbing and took note of which route they were going so we could replicate it tomorrow. It was starting to get very cold and windy so we set up the tent as quickly as possible and climbed in to try and warm up. I cooked my lasagna helper in the tent despite this being a danger as I knew I had to eat dinner or I would never make it over the Pass. I then put on all my clothes as the temps dipped below freezing and the wind pressed in the sides of our tent. I knew it was gonna be a long night as my water was already beginning to freeze and just hoped the wind would die down as the sun set. Before falling asleep I asked Matt if he was still having fun. He said, “no”.

Forester approach

5 thoughts on “Day 53: Left Behind

  1. Hey it was cold here last night! Covers were stuck. I had a devil of a time pulling them up over my shoulders! 😭
    sorry guys. Jus a little attempt at some feable humor. 😊
    Stay safe out there!


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