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Cajolley - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2008

Entry 75 of 148
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Miss Potatohead
City: Portland
State: OR
Country: USA
Begins: Apr 29, 2008
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Jun 25th, 2008
Start: 810.9 just before Taboose Pass Trail
End: 830.9 Bishop Pass Trail
Daily Distance: 20
Trip Distance: 850.9
Hours Hiked: 13
Daily Ascent: 2740
Daily Descent: 4780
Min Elevation: 8020
Max Elevation: 12100

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 445
Journal Visits: 62,373
Guestbook Views: 3,996
Guestbook Entrys: 23

Gear list

Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Up to my hips in the water

Today we passed over Mathers Pass, the toughest so far in terms of snow conditions. The approach to the pass was a pretty stream valley full of wild flowers, but as we got closer, we rose above treeline to moss-surrounded lakes, creeklets & boulders. Snow fields covered the trail in some valleys, but the pass was easy to find. The trail climbed the wall of the pass in an arc, then switchbacked up the far side of the wall. The arc-ed part of the trail was easily passable, and watching from the base we could see other hikers making good time on the rocky part. On the switchbacks, however, a deep snow chute covered over half of the trail on each switchback. The slope was not only snow-covered, but also very steep. After reaching the base of the switchbacks, we opted simply to cut up the snow slope, making a slightly diagonal climb to a rock about halfway up, then switchbacking up towards the trail. Although at any other time of day it wouldn't have been easy; we hit the snow at 11:30 am, when it was perfectly soft enough to kick steps but stable enough to hold our weight. It was a quick and easy snow climb, and I hurried over the top to the other side, hoping to hit the descending snow slopes before the sun warmed them so much that we would continually posthole.

After several miles of descent, Vic & I stopped for lunch on a rock overlooking the Palisades Lakes, next to a stream crossing. The view was stunning (one of Vic's amazing traits as a hiking partner is his ability to find lunch spots with the best views), overlooking the lakes & up the valley to the snowy pass & peaks surrounding it. A marmot observed us from behind a rock & after we ate, I napped while Vic "tchked" at it & tried to coax it nearer. It ran away eventually, signaling the end of our sunny lunch break.

Back to hiking, but first I had to cross the stream. There was a stack of logs forming a pool above the ford, where the water looked pretty deep already. I decided to cross on the logs because in spite of postholing on the way down, my feet had stayed reasonably dry & I wanted desperately to keep them that way. My creek fording technique is as follows: since I have no crocs or watershoes, if I can see the bottom of the water easily, then I pull off shoes & socks & wade on through with pants rolled up to my knees. If I can't see the bottom well, I just wade on through with shoes & socks on for better balance. Also, the water is so cold that when I am crossing without the added insulation of shoes & socks, I am more likely to rush across just to get out of the cold, thereby increasing my chances of a slip or fall. At any rate, at this crossing, the logs seemed to be the easier path, and I started across easily. Upon stepping on the last log, I could feel it was a little tippy. As I placed my full weight on it, it tipped to my left, and my shoes slipped on the wet wood. In a split second, I was up to my hips in water, straddling the log, with my feet touching the bottom. After a squeak of surprise & some choice swear words, I pulled myself out of the creek before the log started to float downstream. Vic, who had missed the whole thing, showed up in time to see me stomping angrily out of the water, making more fuss than a wet cat. I was practically spitting as I wrung out my pants, socks & shoes. Happily, nothing was hurt except my pride; even the maps were placed in a high enough pocket not to have been splashed.

After the adventure of the creek, the rest of the afternoon was fairly mellow. We descended "the Golden Staircase: a set of rocky switchbacks with views of the river & its amazing waterfalls. I love how the waterfalls here are not the cascades of the Pacific Northwest, which drop straight off cliffs, but rather flow over the granite rocks, like a water slide. It was a pleasant afternoon walk, but by evening I was feeling stressed about making enough miles; my entire body felt tired & my mood reflected it. Fortunately, a mile into the last 3-mile segment, I crossed a meadow, and looking up, saw a doe standing just 50 feet from me. She walked closer, to a stream in the middle of the meadow, and the entire time I stood there barely moving as she drank. It felt magical, and it reminded me how lucky I am to be here, experiencing all this.

Entry 75 of 148
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The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more:


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