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Martin "Lei Low" Rolph
City: Cameron Park
Begins: Apr 12, 2008
Entry Visits: 1,412
Journal Visits: 180,698
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Guestbook Entrys: 35
Water, Water, and More Water
The desert is officially over. I have never seen so much water on a trail. Once my feet got wet this morning crossing one of many creeks, it didn't matter anymore. I just splashed along all day and ignored the wet feet.
It was cold last night at Center Basin Trail on Bubbs Creek. There was frost on everything (including my sleeping bag) when I woke up. Since I was planning a shorter day, I stayed in the bag for a while, hoping for some morning sun. No luck. I finally crawled out of the bag at 7AM. I got numb fingers as I frantically stuffed wet and frosty gear into my pack. The fun really started when I had to put on frozen shoes. Oh well... 30 minutes of brisk walking and I was toasty warm.
The trip down Bubbs Creek was pleasant, although there were plenty of snow patches. It's a gorgeous, classic glacier-carved U-shaped canyon flanked by high granite spires. At Vidette Meadows I spotted bear tracks in the mud. No real surprise. Vidette Meadows is one of the bear hot-spots in Kings Canyon National Park.
From the Meadows, the climb towards Glen Pass began. The trail here is definitely old school. New trail construction on the PCT tries to keep the grade to under 15%. The climb out of Bubbs Creek was much steeper - a real grunt. I kept slogging away, occassionally losing the trail under snow until above tree line. Like Forester Pass, there was a steep bit of snow covering the lower switchbacks. The upper ones were nearly snow-free. I made it to the top and found a chilly breeze from the north.
The north side of Glen Pass has a reputation for being steep and icy in the early season. It was certainly steep, but the snow was quite soft. I pulled out my ice axe but didn't use the crampons. The soft snow made for a quick descent. After carefully picking my way down the upper, very steep few hundred feet, I did a standing glissade (boot skiing) for more than a mile down to the highest of the Rae Lakes. I could hear many creeks rushing under the snow, and I was a bit nervous about falling through. But it turned out to be no problem.
The upper Rae Lake still has rapidly melting ice on it. I could see many trout cruising between the shore and the ice. The lower lakes were mostly clear. Rae Lakes are a very popular summer backpackings destination, but I had them all to myself.
After lunch I headed down the trail. Once again the snow was horridly soft. It was melting so fast that most of the trail had 4 to 6 inches of water running down it. Water was running down entire hillsides. There was one creek that was a bit spooky to ford. It was 20 feet across and running really fast. I scouted around for the best spot but didn't see anything good. It turned out to be knee-deep and not too difficult using my hiking poles.
Somewhere in all the slipping and sliding down the trail, my left leg started to hurt again. I slowed down and made it to camp OK. Hopefully, it won't be too painful tomorrow. I'm camped at Woods Creek, where there's a very cool suspension bridge. It really bounces and rolls above 30-40 feet above roaring Woods Creek. The 2x3 planks seem awfully thin once you're over the water! This is another popular backpacking site, complete with a bear locker. There are two couples here, just out for a few days of early-season camping.
That's all for tonight. More snow and high passes tomorrow.
Martin "Lei Low"
Tales From The Crest
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: www.pcta.org
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