So the morning didn’t go quite as expected. Growler was having a lot of trouble with her eyes and we think she has snow blindness from yesterday. Her eyes wouldn’t stop leaking and she couldn’t see Bangarangs face. It hurt her eyes too much to go in the sun. There was no way she was going to be walking anywhere today, or this morning at least.
After much discussion about amounts of food, ability, post office opening times etc it was decided that Cool Breeze and I would hike out as the plan and Bangarang would stay with Growler and hike out the next day. I gave Bangarang all my extra food and we hiked out.
Cool Breeze didn’t think it should be me that went at first as I am the slowest one (despite doing 28 mile days!) that hurt my feelings a bit. I spent most of the morning dwelling on the fact he thinks I’m not good enough. But then I realised that I am in fact ahead of pretty much everyone I know and I am in fact doing a pretty good job!
We had 1000ft of elevation gain to begin with and I was determined to show him that I was more than capable of today, so while he had to drop off the kids I was able to get a bit of a head start.
It was a beautiful walk, with views of the mountains and Mt Whitney and beautiful meadows. I waited for Cool Breeze at the top of the climb and we had a little break. I amused myself with my marmot friend.
We descended to the creek (lots of river crossings today) and Cool Breeze found a can of corned beef in the bear box which he took for later! The man will eat anything and everything.
Then it was the start of the big climb to Forester Pass. We had heard sketchy stories about the pass and we weren’t sure what we were getting into, but we were prepared to turn back if needs be.
The approach was long and gradual and the pass began to come into view. We weren’t sure which one it was at first. We started up the switchbacks which were great, nice and gentle and short. Then we got to the top and things started to get sketchy! The path disappeared under a mound of snow and a overhanging cornice next to it. Things are warming up every day so the snow is getting precarious. Cool breeze went up first to check it out.
We managed to get over the top but it was pretty scary! We saw the sign and of course took some photos…Forrester pass is the highest point on the PCT so this feels like a huge achievement to get here, especially in the snow!
One for the ladies:
Then, when we couldn’t put it off anymore, it was time to get down the other side. The path was totally obscured by the snow. I’m glad we weren’t the first ones up there and we had some footsteps to follow. They went straight down the mountain. We started walking but we were post holing up to our bums. So tiring. So cold. So difficult. I had a bit of a panic when I got my leg trapped and thought my shoe was going to come off. Cool breeze couldn’t help as he was stuck in his own hole.
We then decided to slide down (an idea of mine originally rejected but soon adopted by my companion). I used my sit pad an Cool Breeze slid down in his shorts (mentalist), both risking frostbite of the naughty bits. We kept sliding until we were completely numb, until we could get up and get to a snow free area. We put our jackets on and tried to warm up. It was still a really long way to get down and still a lot more snow. We could see any of the switchbacks so we just followed to footsteps. Because we were doing this late in the day the snow was soft and we post holed a bit. We came to a couple of areas where we could hear the snow melt rushing underneath us. We had to walk over it. Cool breeze went first so I could follow in his footsteps, I just hoped he hadn’t weakened the ice! We got through ok. The worst part is that we didn’t know what was under the snow – well we did, rocks. Which when you sank through the snow you could quite easily break a bone – which I nearly did twice. In normal circumstances I would have been jumping over the rocks but with numb legs and feet it was a different story, there were a few moments when my heart dropped through my bum. I’m surprised my ankles, knees, legs and trekking poles are still in one piece. Definitely type 2 fun.
Cool Breeze says to me you have crusty boogers on your nose and chocolate around your mouth. Yep. And that’s the way it’s going to stay. My whole face is too sore to touch. It even hurts to wipe the hair out of my face. And my eyes are sore, they look sore:
As we got lower and out of the snow I squelched along in my shoes. The snow is melting and the pct is basically a river, but my feet were so wet anyway it didn’t make any difference. Crossed a river on a log – that would have topped off my day if I had fallen in!
We walked for what seemed like forever to get to the bottom of the hill so we had the shortest distance to do in the morning. I was getting slower and slower, my eyes wanted to close, my feet were soggy, I was hungry, my face and lips are so sore. We set up camp and ate quickly as the giant mosquitoes settled on us.