As I am getting back on the PCT post-holiday break it seems that I may have made the wrong choice with regards to weather. Had I stayed on trail I would have finished out SoCal without much trouble, but it seems we’ve caught a few decent storms since then, so I’m coming back in with a pretty similar kit to what I carried thru the Sierra, basically just minus an Ice Ax. Carrying the snowshoes unnecessarily feels a little silly, but I think I may get some use out of them given how low snow line is on San Jacinto.
Although, my kit doesn’t change that much season to season, I try and keep my budget a little too tight for that. Most of this stuff has come a long way, and my use conditions for this trip put a bigger premium on durability (or warranties) than I would if I were doing a single trail. Both puffy jackets were acquired on trail, although the top one I picked up on mile 40 o the AT… the second is perhaps a bit overkill now, I’ve only worn them together a couple times. (namely atop Mt. Whitney) While keeping weight down is important, preventing gear failure (especially in winter conditions) is paramount; both from a sense in that if I am carrying it, then I need it to be not broken, and in a sense that replacing gear cuts into the coffers, which ultimately will be what forces me off trail.
The red and silver sleeping bag liner is a vapor barrier, which really does extend the range of comfort. Although I already sleep quite warm, and early in the trip found that my 20°F bag I could sleep comfortably into the teens. This has since receded a bit as I think I may have worn or otherwise damaged the down. Despite washings it never seems to recover its original loft, it is however still quite warm, and with VBL layers and some midnight crunches I haven’t found too much trouble sleeping below 0°F. Also of note slight modifications to my tent, having added a set tension distributing guy lines, I reduced the number of stakes required for setup by 4, bringing minimum setup to 4 stakes and fully battened down at 6 stakes. I recently modified it further. Using some small plastic rings cannibalized from my backpack, to minimize the cord on cord action, which should prolong the life of the guylines a bit.
This week comes with some extra pictures, since I messed up last weeks post.
Benson Hut, just a little south of Donner Pass on the PCT. The shelters out west don’t get the love they do on the AT, but they are generally super nice. Combining unique construction and eclectic feature sets, I dunno why most thru-hikers out here aren’t super pysched on them…
A little old gem in the Pasayten Wilderness, I didn’t end up staying here, but despite the disrepair I could see myself doing so. Its got bunks, a dirt floor, and a tree on the roof, what’s not to like? Elmo was still keeping up with me fer this one, but the PCT and TK were almost in sight and I was getting a little over-excited to do high mileage.
Not the shelter I stayed at, but Lakenenland had a little adirondack shelter out back, complete with cots, a table, and full window exterior doors. This little picnic shelter makes a better picture what with the sculpture an all. Also I don’t seem to have a picture of the actual shelter…
From the top of Mt. Wynne, only a few days ago. You can see Pinchot pass is pretty clear, but unfortunately the trail is enough of a rut that it has protected the snow, leading me to still be snowshoeing on about 4 to 6 inches of snow, when about half the surrounding ground is clear… that horizontal line of snow on the left about in the middle is the trail down.
A sign atop Donahue Pass on the south border of Yosemite NP, I don’t know how tall it is, but looking back to that last significant snowfall we’ve gotten a lot of melting don in the past couple weeks.
Right around shasta we got a little bit of snow, just enough to make climbing Shasta inadvisable. but in the following days I found quite a few tracks thru the remaining snow. this one seems to have stuck around a ways after the snow it was made in melted away. Such is the power of dirt.
Here’s my pruned foot, neither in a boot nor on snow.
Near Crater Lake I got my first snow of the PCT, and did a fair chunk of trudging. This was the second day of constant wet feet, and it shows a bit. Got to stop in at South Brown Mountain Shelter, build a fire and dry out. Some of those divots didn’t really go away with the wetness though.
A somewhat rare view of my 2 person camp setup, with TK gone I had a whirlwind of gear juggling, first mailing my solo kit home, and then within a couple weeks having to coordinate to get my solo kit back. Also pictured, the wonderful Mica lake in the early morning, firmly in the halo of the morning’s alpenglow.
Ready to go the morning after staying at an abandoned cabin, which used to serve a tungsten mine in the Pasayten wilderness. Shared it with a couple who had thru-hiked the PNT the previous year, and with Elmo an older thru-hiker who had been accompanying me for a few days, till I turned south.
Another shot of my pack at a beach, but no snow this time and the weather was wonderful here. Took a couple hours off from hiking to go swimming and watch people zip around the far side of the lake on their motor boats. Blue pack’s time may be running dry, and I may have even replaced it by the time this goes up, getting lots of holes in the exterior pockets and the webbing of the harness if abrading apart, its hard to complain too much though, I’ve carried it almost 5000 miles at this point.
Having just woken up on Abercrombie Mountain for sunrise, a year out to the day from my Katahdin summit under similar circumstances. (Although I didn’t camp on top of Katahdin, don’t worry all you Baxter State park reps who scour the internet. I just climbed up under cover of darkness.) Abercrombie used to have a lookout tower on it and most of the wood components of this otherwise stone bivvy were probably salvaged from it. Mostly what’s left are the concrete footings and a little bit of twisted metal. The stones were all really flat, so it was actually super comfortable to stay in there, although I’m well insulated from ground conditions by my sleeping pad.
Golden Birthday in a nice enclosure at mile 100. Me and Nemo still had an excessive amount of some stuff here, namely gas cannisters. (Can you spot them all?) Also first back pack is off to the side.
Sunset at high rocks overlooking Big bald, right before Nemo jumped off trail in TN. Rescue is set up outta the frame to the left.
The Dover Oak, biggest tree on the AT, makin my pack look small. RIP green pack, your time came too early.
South shore of Lake Superior. My current pack about as big as it gets these days, maybe barring some food, I don’t remember how deep into the ration this was. Without the snowshoes you’d hardly know the full winter kit is in there.