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Snow on the Pacific Crest Trail

The 2017 thruhiker season seems to be an interesting one according to the snow levels on the west coast. I thruhiked the PCT in 2011 in a similar way above average snow year.
The snow pack lasted much longer than I thought, from Trail Pass after Kennedy Meadows till Sierra City (about 500mi) with very little stretches of dry trail.
You might encounter snow even earlier, up Baden Powel and San Jacinto. This is nothing compared to the Sierras.

This is what I have to share about my experience for the class of 2017:

  • Start late in Campo, and try to enter the Sierras as late as possible.
  • Your progress will be slower than you think.
  • Use every resupply option, you will be happy about every day off the snow.
  • Do not expect dry feet.
  • Surround yourself with a group of good navigators to take turns on navigation.
  • Hike early when the snow is hard.
  • Put on your crampons or spikes before you enter a difficult spot.
  • Use new shoes with a stiffer sole and a good profile.
  • Make sure your poles have snow baskets!
  • Try to cross rivers early or late in the day.
  • Take time to look for a save spot to cross rivers, this is likely somewhere else than shown on the map.
  • Learn to ski on your heels!
  • Take good care and don’t under estimate avalanche danger!
  • If you don’t feel like you can do that after the first 2 days, turn around.
  • Sunblock and very good sunglasses are a must!
  • Forget snowshoes, suncups and going up and down steep slopes are not the ideal terrain for them.
  • The road to Reds Meadow was still closed, also the road to Mammoth.
    We had to roadwalk to Mammoth Ski Resort and took the free bus to town.

The good things about the snow:

  • There will be no mosquitos.
  • Bears are at lower elevations.
  • The Sierras will be not crowded at all.
  • Heel skiing 🙂
  • The adventurous feeling.
  • Water will be everywhere!

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments!

 

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