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Martin "Lei Low" Rolph
City: Cameron Park
Begins: Apr 12, 2008
Entry Visits: 1,407
Journal Visits: 180,692
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Over Ebbetts Pass
I only got off trail seriously once today and I made pretty good mileage. I pushed pretty hard because I’m really looking forward to getting home for a week-long break with Boulderbunny in a few days.
The day started well with fairly easy trail for several miles. There were some large snowy areas as the trail turned north and climbed up and over several low ridges. I managed to find the trail exiting the snow without much trouble. There were some nice basalt outcroppings, including one with the hexagonal columns like Devil’s Postpile.
At one point in the morning, the trail disappeared under the snow and I saw a trail emerge on the slope above. I started up this hill but quickly became suspicious when the trail got too steep and headed straight for the ridge top. I was fairly certain this was not the PCT but decided to climb the last few hundred feet to the ridge to get a view out over the trees and to get some idea how far away Ebbetts Pass was. The top of the ridge had great views and paralleled the direction the PCT was headed. I hiked along the crest until I could get a clear view north. It looked like the Pass and Highway 4 was still 10 miles or so north. I spotted the PCT crossing a meadow down below and scrambled straight down to it rather than retracing my steps.
Fortunately, the snow was limited to smaller patches and the trail was fairly smooth for quite a few miles. I made great time in spite of some serious climbing. The trail climbed towards an obvious pass on the Sierra Crest and I was sure the highway was just beyond that. There were some nice views from the pass but no highway. It looked like there was one more snowy descent and then a climb up another ridge to reach Ebbetts Pass. I got pretty lucky finding a few patches of trail as I scrambled down the hill and soon I was on a set of long dry switchbacks working down through ancient volcanic mud flows. After climbing the ridge on the other side of the canyon, I found a heavy trail of boot prints through the snow banks, a sure sign I was close to the trailhead. Sure enough, I was soon passed signs for the trailhead parking lot and then Highway 4. There wasn’t a soul or even a car in sight. The last person I’d seen was at Miller Lake, 3½ days ago.
From the Ebbetts Pass area, the trail was fairly easy to follow with only a short section of solid snow cover. Soon the trail passed through some granite outcroppings, above two lakes and then out into an open area of sage brush with great views. Heading down past a series of craggy volcanic peaks there was some easy hiking with only a few short but steep climbs. At a pass on top of one of these climbs, I got cell phone coverage for the first time since Tuolumne Meadows (Yay!). It was very nice to talk to Boulderbunny.
From the pass (which I later realized was on the east side of Raymond Peak), the trail traversed around to the west above a fairly impressive canyon along loose volcanic cliffs. There were a few sketchy snow patches but these are getting fairly routine. Once down in the trees, I hiked for about a mile and stopped at a nice established campsite near a tributary of Pleasant Creek. Whew! I’m fairly close to familiar trail again and I’m pretty confident I’ll make it to Echo Lake without maps. Boulderbunny is going to call the PCTA and see about getting a replacement copy of my permit (thank you Bb!). There are quite a few mosquitoes out tonight, enough to warrant a liberal dose of DEET on all exposed skin. I’m off to bed and a well earned rest. Happy Trails –
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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