More snow, hello and goodbye Oregon, another road trip and the return to the Sierra Nevada mountains.
We drag ourselves out of town and back to the trail. Our walking party of 2 has temporarily grown to 3. An American lady named Denise is hiking out with us. We are expecting a lot of snow the next section, and Denise wants to hike through it with other people. Denise has left her 3 children at home alone (the youngest is 16) to hike the PCT. Naturally I love her.
We are expecting a ‘bowl’ of snow. Imagine a mountain. Then cover it in snow. Now climb it. Yep. Fun. We hit it the morning of day 2. It’s all up hill, which we decide is better than trying to go down it!
It’s painfully slow going. There is no track or steps to follow so we continually stop and check GPS, making sure we are not wandering too far from the trail. Almost every step has to be kicked in and by the time I reach the top my toes are numb and slightly bruised. But an hour and a half later, reach the top I do! I exhale and start to breath again as I look back down at what I just climbed up. Two weeks ago if someone had shown me a picture and said that’s the trail, I probably would have said no way, not doing it. R Jnr turns out to be the most patient person I think I’ve ever met. He leads the way and checks every few steps how I’m doing. Best sort of hiking partner one could ask for in challenging circumstances, especially when we heard another party arguing amongst themselves.
Denise leaves us around lunchtime. We are super happy and on a high, and take a long break before hiking only a few more miles to camp. My happy bubble is popped when we meet a couple of South bound hikers who stop and tell us about a huge snow field over a mile long that we will run into tomorrow. Sigh.
After a restless night’s sleep, we leave camp and hit the snow almost immediately. Feeling more confident after conquering yesterday’s ‘bowl’ I breathe and tell myself I can do this! Turns out, the ‘bowl’ was less challenging than this field! I move a little more confidently, and am grateful that the people before us have kicked in good steps that make it easier to find our way across the snow.
With the snow behind us, the remaining few days return to normal trail life.
A resupply stop follows, sadly not in a town. It’s simply a general store and cafe on an Interstate. R Jnr decides that he needs a break from the trail, and finds a ride across the border into Oregon, where we plan to meet back up in a few days.
After a questionable shower in a local campground, I return to the trail later that afternoon. Trail life resumes. I meet back up with Denise and we camp together at the end of each day. The days are uneventful, punctuated by the odd snow field which I no longer am fearful of. On our second last day of this particular section we cross into Oregon.
My last night before town I camp at a campground accessible by car. On arrival I curiously watch a small group of people setting up what looks to be a huge telescope. It turns out to be exactly this. I make friends, and later that night, they allow me to take a peek. My mind is absolutely blown when I peek through. I can see Saturn and its rings, and Jupiter and its moons. It’s also a full moon which is simply unbelivable to see up close. It’s big and bright, and breathtakingly beautiful.
The next day I reach town. Ashland, Oregon is larger than any resupply town I’ve visited. It’s a pretty college town, with tree lined streets, cafes, boutiques and a few breweries. It’s perfect for a few days off trail. I am tired and my legs are sore and with the Sierra Nevada mountains looming, I know I need a little break before I tackle them!
After 3 days of real food, big bed, lush pillows and a hundred showers, R Jnr and I hire a car for the 10 hour drive back down to Southern California, and the start of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the jewel of the PCT, and the perfect section of the trail to spend my last month hiking.
Snow melt has been heavy in the time since we skipped ahead, but we’re still expecting miles of snow, and some wild and fast river crossings. Throw in high and steep mountains, the altitude, and some seriously heavy packs due to bear cannisters and snow gear, this section is going to be fun!
The goal is to finish up in the magnificent and breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage Site of Yosemite National Park. Here’s hoping we make it!