Saturday, May 28, 2016

Wiping Off the Rust and Preparing for the Snow

Yesterday was the 7th day since we finished to Kennedy Meadows and started our break to wait for better weather and safer hiking conditions in the Sierra. And in those days we hiked a grand total of zero miles. We did a short hike yesterday in a local canyon to see if the legs still work. No Name Canyon had a weekly eBird gap and makes for a moderate 6 mile round trip in desert riparian habitat. It was pleasant and we turned up 32 species of birds including three Long-eared Owls, two Phainopepla, and a Scott's Oriole carrying food for an assumed nest. 

Hiking in No Name Canyon, the PCT is at the top of the ridge just a short distance away

We start into the Sierra tomorrow, Sunday May 29. There are multiple reports of relatively safe conditions over Forester Pass, the highest point on the PCT at 13,200 feet elevation and only 75 or so miles north of our starting point in Kennedy Meadows. As we ascend to Forester and beyond we must be prepared for snow, ice and high water river crossings. There are 9 major passes above 11,000 feet elevation we will cross before we get to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite at mile 943.  We start in Kennedy Meadows at Mile 705.  That's a lot of snow covered miles. It will be SLOW.  And for the most part it will be without cell phone signal. It is likely after we leave tomorrow that this blog will sit silent until we get to Vermilion Valley Resort (Lake Edison) for resupply in about two weeks. I may be able to post a short message to my Facebook page occasionally from the Delorme InReach. And remember you can follow the blue dots on our real-time map page, updated every two to four hours:

As long at the dots keep advancing, we're making progress!  Either that or a bear ate me and made off with my satcom...  :-)

We'll be adding some gear for the next few hundred miles. First is the mandatory bear canister for food storage in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yosemite National Parks. 

For footwear we'll be using slip-on traction devices over our trail runners.


For secure ascent and self-arrest in case of a fall on an icy slope we will have a combination hiking pole and ice axe called the Whippet.

Whippet Ski Pole

We are bringing a few pieces of warmer clothes as well. And our first two food supplies are a week long each.  That's 20 lbs of food per week for the both of us!  Ouch!  It's a good thing that the long water hauls are over, because all the rest of this crap will be heavy!

I spent a day earlier this week finishing the rest of the resupply boxes. Out of the freezer came our home-made dinners for the rest of the trail. Each box got the appropriate number of dinners sealed inside a vacuum bag. All the boxes are stacked and numbered, ready for Trail Mom Terri to send them when it is time.


We have a few hand deliveries we are looking forward to. Terri will meet us at Tuolumne Meadows Yosemite in mid-June. The post office there is likely to still be in winter closure so this will ensure we get food. Friends Ron and Nancy (who took us to the start of the trail in April) will be meeting us in late June at Sonora Pass to simplify that one greatly. And finally, the most epic resupply of all will happen next weekend after we clear Forester Pass. Our friend Chris is hiking 20 pounds of food over Kearsarge Pass out of Onion Valley to meet us on the trail. That is so cool and saves us two days of off-trail resupply. Thanks to all for the help, we really appreciate you all!!

Okay, so wish us luck in the snow and follow the little blue dots on the map. I promise I will continue to write and take photos, it will just be a while before I can share!


  1. I have been told that the bear canister isn't heavy but it is BULKY.
    Twenty pounds of food per person plus the usual stuff you must carry. So, you guys are hauling >30 lbs (maybe 40)? Oooof!

    1. 20 pounds total for both of us, per week. I just weighed our packs completely loaded including a liter of water. Mine was 37 lbs. and Susan's was 23 lbs. Thankfully the load goes down every day as we eat, but jumps right back up at resupply! And yes, bear cans are terribly difficult to jam in a small pack like we hike with. I will be glad to get rid of it at Sonora Pass!

  2. You guys move so fast. You are amazing. I am so grateful I got to spend time with you during your brief hiatus. Looking forward to reading your catch up blogs in a few weeks. Good thing you can take a break from trying to blog every night. No more shiver blogs please. We can wait as long as you are safe and comfortable.