78. June 27: Mile 1101.31 Campsite to Mile 1112.35 Campsite
They ain’t kidding about Northern California being covered in snow. We hiked almost the entire day in the white stuff which for me is a first. The rest of my trail family took it head on when they went up Forester Pass and the like after I got air lifted. They experienced freezing temperatures and dangerous river crossings, none of which we had to deal with today. Which is part of the reason we skipped the Sierras. Honestly, though it was so cool. For me at least it was of the most enjoyable days on the trail.
CONTENT WARNING: MAY BE INAPPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF >1. The morning consisted of climbing up Dick’s Pass which is at 9400 feet (get ready for an entire paragraph of phallic puns). It was a total pain in the dick. The snow was just starting to get soft and limp as the sun began beating off on the slopes. So we had to break out the ice axes for safety. Don’t be silly, wrap your…uh…use your ice axe…? Anyway, Dick’s pass was massive; about 1700 feet in length, er, height. It did start out dry, but began getting wet and turned into snow soon thereafter. Reaching the tip, um, top was the climax of the whole climb. Okay, I’m done. Sorry, mom and dad and grandma and my aunts and uncles and basically anyone who will be severely disappointed in me for being so sophomoric in my humor. I digress.
In all seriousness, it was a pretty incredible experience. I have a weak spot for watching mountaineering documentaries and while it was a far cry from climbing real mountains, it was still a thrill to get out the ice axe and spikes while climbing up steep snowy ridges. Especially since I missed out on the section from Mt. Whitney to Kearsarge Pass while I was in the hospital.
The way down was particularly hectic, though. By the time we began descending it was almost 11:00 and the snow was really starting to get soft and slushy. You can usually glissade down (slide down on your butt), but there were too many trees and the slopes were too steep where there weren’t any. So it made for some super sketchy trekking down the ridge to Dick’s Lake. I fell a couple times; once when I was about to reach a dry patch and thought I could slow down by getting to the exposed dirt, but then realized that I should self arrest with my ice axe half way through. It turned out fine since I didn’t slide very far, but it could have been a lot worse. Only wound up with a couple scratches on my shin.
We did get a chance to glissade later on closer to the lake. Dr. McDirty went first and wound up with road rash on his bum so he advised us to put on rain pants. Then Cougar went and instead of using her feet to control her speed as she slid down she somehow managed to keep them completely off the snow and hurled towards a huge snow bank that I was sure she was going to launch over and into some tress. Miraculously, though, she used the snow bank as a berm and turned right at the last second before eventually slowly down Cool Runnings style. It was the funniest thing I have ever seen. Fortunately Glowworm and still have our ice axes so we were able to use them as a brake to slow us down so as not to repeat the previous banzai run.
The snow persisted for the rest of the day until about 3:00 where we had about an hour’s reprieve. For a while I thought we’d never find dry ground to camp on, but we finally were able to find a nice spot to bed down at. Setting up camp was so much easier this time around. The ground was nice and soft allowing for a perfectly pitched tent. Dinner went smoothly as did all my other camp chores. Finally getting back in the swing of things.
We only did 11 miles today, which was disappointing since we were hoping for more. Going up and over the pass was time consuming so hopefully we’ll make better miles tomorrow since I’ve been devouring my food and could really use a day less on trail to make it into town without having to drastically ration my food. Oh well.