It’s cold

Day 54 – 6/5/15
Above Bullfrog Lake
Miles – 17.2
Total Mile 816.3 (PCT 788.5)DSC03878-6-5-15It was our coldest night on the trail last night. It reached 37°in our tent. We had on almost all our clothing when we started to hike. Getting to the sun did not help because of the cold wind. We had only hiked .7 miles before we had to stop for water at Tyndall Creek. We then started the long climb up Forester Pass, the highest pass on the PCT at 13,120′. We wanted to get up and over before the clouds built into something.
The snow level in the Sierras had been a concern for everyone and Forester Pass is a weather vain to let the hikers know what they are up against with the rest of the passes in the Sierra Nevada’s. The south facing slope is almost clear of snow. Once we cross to the north side, we will see how much snow there is. The north facing slope has most of the snow.
We hiked most of the morning heading up to the pass. Even though we were climbing up, we kept all our layers on because it was so cold. The wind was blowing, making it feel even colder. When we topped the pass, the temperature was 34°and the clouds had moved over us. The water that dripped from Tim’s hydration tube turned  into an ice cycle. The North side of Forester Pass was solid snow.
As we hiked down, we could see rain to the north. After several hours, the dark clouds moved over us and it started to snow.  Not a lot but enough to get excited over. Coming from San Diego, snow is rare thus a little snow fall is fun. We reached the bottom in the late afternoon and we immediately began to climb back up to Kearsarge Pass which is the route to Independence and our next for drop. The sky cleared to blue. We camped two miles from the pass with Justa and Lint.  Quickly, the blue sky was replaced with low clouds and temperatures dropped. Justa read the Hobbit to Lint while we played cards in our tents. We will be getting up early and hiking over the pass.DSC03812-6-5-15

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Gi Gi

Gi Gi

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Vincent Gap

Day 27 – 5/9/15
Vincent Gap
Miles – 13.2
Total Miles – 398.4 (PCT 373.0)
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We got up early and packed our backpacks. This section is our longest yet, 8 days, thus it is the heaviest our packs have ever been!  We headed out around 7:30 and started the long walk back to the PCT on the Acorn Trail.. It is 3.6 miles of up. We have been dreading this up, and in fact, it is a section a lot of hikers skip. The first 1.5 miles is a road walk, which hurts our feet. We do not like road walks. We felt a lot better when we got back to the trail. About half of the way up we started to hit snow. Before long most of the trail was covered in snow. When we got to the trail junction with the PCT, we stopped and put plastic bags over out socks and under our shoes. This should help keep our feet stay dry.  This is the first time we have tried this. Will’s shoes are literally falling apart. We keep trying to repair them with duck tape with no success. We are hoping our next food drop is the one with our new shoes!
After we made it to the top, the trail got easier however the snow slowed us down. We were consistently trying to find the driest path. As the day went on, the snow began to turn into slush. At one point, Will slipped on some snow and landed in a deep slushy pool. Ann tried to help him up as fast as she could but the damage was done!  Will and his backpack were soaked. Unfortunately there was a cold wind blowing and Will was shivering.  Mama Raven dried him the best she could with a bandanna and quickly started hiking fast to get him warm. The trail dropped down the ridge and as the day went on we slowly moved below snow level. We stopped for a long break at a cement water drain above one of the lakes used for snow making. The cement was warm from the sun so we all lied down in the cement ditch. We placed the backpacks as a wind break. It was a warm spot to eat and take a nap. I had a hard time waking Mama Raven up to get going.
Back on the trail, our speed started to pick up. Being out of the snow had a lot to do with that. By dinner time, we had not covered the miles we needed to and we were in a tough position. Mt. Baden Powell is coming up very soon. From Vincent Gap to the top of Mt. Baden Powell is 4 miles and over a 3000′ climb. If we hike at our normal pace, the sun would go down while we climb the switchbacks. It we push to get to the top, we would have to camp at 9300′ which would be a extremely cold and windy night. Or we could hold back, hike less miles and do it in the morning. Well, we held back. It’s still cold here; it might freeze tonight, but we are all tucked into our tents and trying to stay warm. The early night allowed time for Mama Raven to try to mend Will’s shoes by sewing on a neoprene patch with dental floss. It also made time for chocolate pudding. Will and Joon were happy about this!

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Wrightwood

Day 25, 26 – 5/7, 5/8
Wrightwood
Miles – 10.7
Total Miles – 385.2 (PCT 363.4)

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5/7 – Sometime during the night the clouds had pulled back and we had clear skies the rest of the night. In the morning we looked down into the valley below and saw a blanket of clouds as we stood above them. It was a beautiful sight. however it was terribly cold so we packed quickly and got hiking.  All morning, we were being chased by the clouds. We somehow were able to stay just a few steps ahead of them as they crept over the ridges.  We would often look back at them and they looked like creatures, stretching their evil tendrils over the peaks and up the valleys for us. The worst part of the weather was the painfully cold wind. By the time we got to our trail down to Wrightwood, the temperature was in the 30’s with a wind chill pushing the temperature down into the 20’s. We hiked down as fast as we could.
Since a storm is moving in, there is are lot of hikers in town. We got a room at an old motel. We will be staying here for two nights and the most important thing we are out of the miserable weather. The weather moved in quickly during the afternoon and it started to hail and snow.

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5/8 – It snowed a little during the night, about an inch or so. After we talked to a few hiker’s, we found out that it snowed about 5″ up on the ridge. This morning we all went out and played in the snow. We built Hiker Joe the snowman and had a fun snowball fight. The storm should pass today, so we will be hiking out tomorrow morning.

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McDonald’s and then up

Day 24 – 5/6/15
High on the ridges below Acorn Tail
Miles – 18.8
Total Miles – 374.5 (PCT 356.3)

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We had a good nights sleep, but at some point clouds came in and our tents got wet. The sun came up early and gave us a chance to dry the tents. Once packed, we hiked fast to get to McDonald’s, just off hwy 15 at Cajon Pass. We came in around 9:00 and ordered right away. Joon and I had Egg McMuffins and pancakes. Joon also got a chocolate milkshake. Mama Raven and Will walked a mile up the road and across the freeway to the Subway to get sandwiches to take on the trail for lunch. After they returned, Mama Raven and Will ordered breakfast and ate while we all relaxed. Also at McDonalds was thru-hikers Senor Wiskers, Zarah (SoBo), and Just Travis. We left McDonalds at 11:30. On the way out, we ran into Whole Roll who asked us what are plans were for the oncoming storm. We have not been paying attention to the latest weather reports so the question caught us off guard. His question explains why it was so cold. We told him we will continue with our plan to hike up and make our way to Wrightwood. We needed to get some of the up done with today, so tomorrow will be shorter, especially with a storm coming in. We would like to get into Wrightwood before lunch. The up to Wrightwood is long, high climb. We will go up about 5000′ in 22 miles. The first thing we had to do was to get to the other side of Hwy 15. We did this by going under it, in a very large water drain. It is about 50′ across and 20′ high. It curves so you cannot see the other end until you are about mid way through it. The Cajon Pass area is a major fright train pass. The long trains are going day and night. We past under a number of train tracks. Finally the trail left this area and headed up Lone Pine Canyon. There we crossed the San Andreas Fault, nothing moved, and we started our climb.
As we started the climb we once again bumped in to Whole Roll.  He was pulling his backpack apart looking for his Spot device.  He thought that he had left it at the Best Western hotel back at the Cajon Pass, some five miles back.  He was not happy because there was not enough time left in the day to hike 10 miles round trip.  In the end he started hiking back for it.  As the afternoon wore on, the clouds stated to reassert themselves and we soon found ourselves hiking in the fog.  All four of us hiked very strong for such a long up. Our endurance is getting stronger.  As our day ended, we set camp just above the clouds. I hope they do not thicken or we will have a wet night. We are over 6000′ and it is very cold. We all piled into the one big tent and ate our Subway sandwiches. It was a good dinner. Mama Raven and I are going to bed apprehensive about tomorrows weather.
A couple of new records for the kids. Today is day 24, that breaks their old record of most days out hiking. We also broke their record for most miles in a single trip, the old record was 360 miles and today they hit 374.

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