Day 52 – Saturday, July 15

PCT Mile 815.6 to PCT Mile 830.9
Day Total: 15.3 Miles

Today was hard.

I fell off a log crossing a creek, and Stephen twisted his ankle. Our shoes were wet more than they weren't and progress over snow fields was exhausting and slow.

We were hungry and grumpy and I cried.

All that said, I look around, and I can't feel sorry for myself for long. The views today were nothing short of stunning. The sharp granite peaks covered with snow and massive, perfect glacial valleys I saw today are what I'll think of forever when I think of the PCT through the Sierras.

Stephen built a little campfire tonight after we'd set up our tent in a densely forested area near a raging creek. We sat around with our little trail family of Papa Bear, Caboose, and Trailblazer, eating instant mashed potatoes and talking about how hard today was.

Papa Bear, who also fell in a creek today, said it best: "Today, nature won."

Day 51 – Friday, July 14

PCT Mile 802.6 to PCT Mile 815.6
Day Total: 13.0 Miles

We did not get an early start this morning. Our campsite was the last place in the entire visible area to feel the sun and between being tired from yesterday and cold in the morning, it was slow going once we got started.

From camp, it was a gradual climb for a few miles on trail, then a couple more over snow before we reached the steep part of the pass. There were some good footprints in the snow, but other places it was hard to follow.

The biggest thing I've learned about navigating these passes is that if you can't see the trail or footprints, take the easiest route up. This usually includes some scrambling on rocks. For a couple miles on either side of the pass, we saw only occasional short glimpses of the trail.

We had high hopes of making it over Pinchot Pass and over the next pass, Mather, today. The tops of the passes are 10 miles apart, so this would be the biggest day we'd done in a while.

After Pinchot, we wa…

Day 50 – Thursday, July 13

PCT Mile 789.1 to PCT mile 802.6
Day Total: 13.4 Miles

The Sierra is tough.

In the desert, we could walk for eight hours and consistently make it 22-to-24 miles. In the Sierra, we walk all day long and cover 13 miles. And I feel way more exhausted.

This morning, we had about two miles from our campsite to the top of Glen Pass. Well, those two miles took us about two hours. The slowness is a combination of factors: the snow, the effort to keep our shoes dry when there's a stream running down the trail, route finding, and impressively steep climbs.

The way down the pass still had a lot of snow as well. We spent a lot of time kicking our heels in every step and moving down the well-tracked path of footprints.

There was also a couple places where we got to slide on or bums, also knows as glissading. Glissading rocks because it's like sledding, but also because it is way faster than walking down switchbacks. Yes, we do hike in shorts. It's like a very cold, sledding shortcut.


Day 49 – Wednesday, July 12

Bishop, Calif. Kearsarge Pass trail to PCT Mile 789.1
Day Total: 7.5 Miles (none on the PCT)

We walked to the grocery store this morning and bought a lot of food, eight days worth. That's the most we've carried at once and it wasn't light. I got a lot hungrier during the last section, maybe because it's finally not super hot, so we ended up buying a little extra.

I was kind of dreading going back to the trail today, knowing that we had a huge climb over Keararge Pass just got get back to the PCT. That's the same trail that we took into town two days ago and it felt long on the way down. We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant with Caboose and Papa Bear and planned to head back to the trail together in the afternoon.

We ended up getting a ride back to the trail (over an hour!) from a guy who hiked the PCT in 2015, who coincidentally lives in Davidson, N.C., where Stephen went to college. His trail name is Traveler. He is on a cross-country road trip and doing some "…

Day 48 – Tuesday, July 11

Bishop, Calif.
Zero Day

We decided to take a zero day today to let our bodies recover and to give the snow on the high passes another day to melt before we continued. Stephen got up early and did all our laundry at Sierra Suds coin-op laundry around the corner.

We both bought new shoes at one of the outfitters in town.

Bishop isn't a big town, but it's the biggest town for many, many miles in every direction so it feels bigger than its population. It's the closest town to a lot of popular climbing routes, so there are several gear stores in town, including a used gear exchange that's awesome.

We bought a new water filter to replace our gravity filter that had slowed down to the point of being unusable. Stephen also bought a new sleeping pad, an inflatable rather than the folding z-lite he had been using.

We saw lots of hikers we've seen before in town, including Papa Bear, Caboose, Woodchuck and Rooster, Moe and Toe, Shade Baby and others. We enjoyed dinner at the br…

Day 47 – Monday, July 10

PCT Mile 782.5 to PCT Mile 788 (plus 7.5 miles over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley Trailhead to Bishop, Calif.)

Day Total: 15.5 Miles

It was beautiful and very chilly when we awoke on a rock island surrounded by snow this morning. We'd made it just low enough to camp among small trees, a beautiful spot looking out on Kings Canyon National Park.

We had a little bit of trouble following the trail in the morning because of the snow but before long the trail was clear.

We followed a creek for a while before coming to a crossing. The creek was raging and I didn't feel good about walking through. We found a log a little upstream of the trail crossing and carefully scurried across. It was scary.

After Stephen and I made it across we sat for a while and ate a second breakfast while our heartrates went back down to normal.

We chatted with a dad and son from coastal Georgia who were out for five days of backpacking. They were having a hard time with the elevation, which is understandable.…

Day 46 – Sunday, July 9

PCT mile 767.0 Crabtree Meadows to PCT Mile 782.5
Day Total: 15.5 Miles

The thing about staying in the same tent site two nights in a row is that you manage to really unpack.

Getting everything sorted and put back in our packs took us a good while. We also ran into some friends we made at Kennedy Meadows who got in late the night before and were heading up Whitney that day. We finally started back towards the trail around 8:30.

We had a pretty incredible morning.

The Sierras do not disappoint. Our plan was to get over Forrester Pass, the highest point on the PCT.

Before Forrester though, we had three creeks to ford. The app we use to help us navigate also has water sources. Often times it will note a seasonal stream that may be dry. A note on 2017: no seasonal stream is dry. Streams are gushing and creeks are rivers. This makes the fords one of the more challenging and disconcerting aspects of the trail.

The first two creek crossings, Wallace Creek and Wright Creek, were within a mile …