80. June 29: Mile 1127.04 Campsite to Mile 1141.50 Campsite
There are times in life where no matter what you do everything seems to go wrong. Today was one of those days. I’ve waited a couple days to actually get around to writing this in hopes that I would form a good idea of what I wanted to say yet I still have no clue where to start. So I’ll just dive in head first. I fucked up.
After a fairly chill morning hiking through mostly dry trail for a couple hours we crested over the ridge from the south to the north facing slope where the snow was and began hiking up. Where we were on the slope didn’t really require an ice ace so Glowworm and I just used our trekking poles since it made it easier to climb. We soon found ourselves on a steep slope about ten meters above some trees and began traversing (hiking along the slope as opposed to straight up it) the snow field. We should have bad our axes out at this point, but I just didn’t think of it for whatever reason. And then I fell. Only for about 20 feet until I was able to dig the end of my trekking pole into the snow and catch hold of a tree well before coming to a stop. I immediately realized my mistake and had to take a minute laying on the slope with my fingers clinched into the snow to catch my breath and collect myself. My emotions were a mixture of shaken and pissed at myself for putting myself in a dangerous position that was easily mitigated if I just had my axe out.
I was able to climb back up to where we had been hiking, pulled out my axe, and in due time we were up on top of the dry ridge with beautiful views of the landscape. It’s pretty cool to see how the landscape is changing from the Sierras to Northern California. The rocks are changing from granite to volcanic rock right before our eyes. It’s weird because everything is still covered in snow, but the mountains themselves are still very different.
It didn’t take long until we were in the snow again. That’s just they way it goes. Depending on the depth of the snow and its orientation to the sun sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not. This make it a pain in the ass to constantly unpack the snow gear (spikes and ice axe) and repack it when the snow is over. With this in mind we came across a larger snow field than we had seen previously along the ridge and I thought I saw dry ground in about 20 meters so I stupidly figured I’d just go through without my axe and spikes…and slipped. And fell. And made a complete fool of myself.
I have no idea why I made these two stupid decisions consecutively. Maybe it was arrogance, maybe it was negligence, I don’t know, but they were very, very stupid decisions. I spent the rest of the early afternoon going over the morning’s events in my head again and again. Body’s heal, but once a spirit is broken it’s very hard to bring it back. My confidence had taken a huge beating. I continued to fumble around in the snow, completely bewildered and unsure of every step I took. Questions in my head began popping up like, “why do I fall so much when others don’t” or “other began are going through the snow fine and they don’t even have axes”. It took a long while before I was able to be in a good mood again.
The afternoon was fairly chill until we reached the top of the ski lifts for the Squaw Valley only to find the other side to be extremely steep and covered in very soft snow. We really had no choice but to go down, but considering the morning’s events I wasn’t too keen or confident in myself while descending. Fortunately Glowworm took the initiative and led the first pitch down, kicking in solid steps for me to get a good grip.
Once we got to what we thought was the bottom we realized that from there the trail traversed the steep snowy slope around the mountain side. It probably took us two hours to hike one mile. Definitely the most terrifying hiking I have ever done, but weirdly by the time it was all said and done I felt like I had regained most of my confidence in the snow. I really hope tomorrow we have some long dry stretches. This is becoming stressful.