6-21-17, PCT mile 1231.4, 19.4 miles
Navigation in the snow with no trail is awful. Particularly when you are in a forest and even more so when that forest is down a steep ridge. That was the situation we found ourselves in when we reached the top of Fowler Ridge. We had hiked several slow miles in the snow with Biline. We would constantly be loosing the trail (which we knew from our GPS was ten feet directly below us, unseen) As there was no trail to follow, most of our progress involved climbing straight up tree covered ridges trying to pick the least steep way to aviod sliding into rocks or tree wells. My snow wet boots and socks were beginning to wear holes in my feet. At one point we joined a ridge with a 4×4 road sunk under the snow. Looking at my topo map, I noticed that the ridge, more or less, followed the trail. The trail itself hopped over one side of the ridge to the other on the steep sidehills on either side. As the trail was buried, there was no safe way to follow it along the sidehills, so I decided we would stay atop the ridge for several miles. After 2 miles or so the ridge came to an aburupt end and the 4×4 road disappeared down a steep sowed in side hill. The only way back to the trail was through a forest of 4ft tall bushes. We slowly made our way, being careful not to turn an ankle but getting fairly scraped up in the process. Right as we reached the trail we ran into three hikers, Joe Dirt, Grams, and a girl with my favorite trail name yet: Trash Raccoon. Before following them up the ridge I though I heard them yelling “Lobster!!!” repeatedly. “Oh shit.” I said to Sarah “Mountain Lobsters that’s all we need. They’re probably hungry as hell too because they just woke up from hybernation. We’d better keep our feet moving if we don’t want our toes bitten off.” “I think they are yelling Monster.” Sarah said. Goddam it! Flesh starved Mountain Lobsters were one thing. But Monsters? That was definitely worse. It turns out that they were saying “Lobster”. She was a section hiker they had been walking with who had taken a wrong turn. We had taken the same path moments ago. Biline, perhaps sensing something was off, had slowly slide into a three foot tree well and remained their, like an upside down turtle for a minute or two, giving us time to check our gps and realize we were on the wrong side of the ridge. She was following our tracks. We all had lunch at the top of Fowler ridge. I spent a lot of time searching for a good way down but there was none. We attempted to make our own steep switchbacks through the 50 degree snow slope. It took forever and was dangerous. Lobster rejoined us and descended with us, falling several times in the process, but never hurting herself (scrapes and bruises aside). Three quarters of the way down, we came across a recent avalanche that forced us to stop switchbacking and descend straight down to the valley floor. This was a blessing in disguise. When we reached the bottom we saw the trail actually zig zagged down to that point and became bare once again. We hiked along on dirt once again for several miles and camped in a forested area. Just before turning in for the night Joe Dirt walked in to camp naked. It was Hike naked day after all. Everyone else was too tired for such frivolity.