Mile: 374 to 386
up/down: 3350/3300 feet
Today wasn't so much about miles as it was survival. Our story resumes where we left off last night, just as I pushed go to upload the blog. We had ended our day early, foregoing the ascent up Baden-Powell because the weather looked dodgy. As I walked back to the tent the snow pellets got serious and a full-on blizzard ensued. It lasted an hour or more and got us looking at map options for getting around the big mountain and miles of high ridges that follow. We could walk highway 2 instead, but what fun would that be?
Morning came and the wind had settled. Snow at the 6500 foot elevation we were camped at had only accumulated an inch or two and was already starting to melt where the early sun hit. We are going up! The first couple miles of the four mile ascent were easy enough, but as we gained altitude the old icy drifts, now covered in a few inches of fresh powder, became more troublesome. It was slow going but we finally made it to the spur trail for the top and made it up. It was perfect conditions and great views.
Mt Baldy from Baden-Powell
Dropping a few hundred feet back down we took the PCT continuation toward the west and on the north facing slope. Here the trail got a lot more difficult. There were long stretches of slippery ice that had to be managed. We didn't get very far very fast. After passing three more summits at high elevation we finally started to descend to a more reasonable, and relatively snow free, elevation. We made Little Jimmy Spring in the early afternoon for our first water source since yesterday morning. Continuing on we hit Hwy 2 at Islip Saddle in fading afternoon light. The trail climbs a thousand feet from here, and with no known campsites within reach we threw in the towel. We found a stealthy camp site away from the parking lot and are settled in for another cold night. I know I'll be complaining about the hot in just a couple days as we drop into the desert, but boy does 20 degrees warmer sound really good about now.
I was asked recently how I come up with the elevation change (up/down) that I include with each post. I have an app on the phone put out by Lon "Halfmile" Cooper. Halfmile walked the trail in 2014 carrying a precision GPS unit to measure both the length of the trail and obtain an accurate elevation profile. The app allows me to look between any two points and see the amount of ascend and descend. Here is a screen capture for the section we did today:
You can read more about the Halfmile project here: