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Country: United States
Begins: May 5, 2010
Date: Tue, Jun 15th, 2010
Start: Crabtree Meadows (766.3)
End: Charlotte Lake (790.2)
Daily Distance: 25.7
Trip Distance: 820.5
Entry Visits: 947
Journal Visits: 151,380
Guestbook Views: 14,738
Guestbook Entrys: 179
Pacific Crest Trail Map
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Avo descends the north side of Forester Pass
By far, the past two days have been the physically toughest consecutive two days of the trip. Yesterday was Whitney. Today we went over the highest pass on the PCT, Forester Pass at 13,180 feet. Today I covered over 25 miles, almost all of it on snow. I had some extra motivation though. While my hiking group stopped after about 20 miles, I had a planned rendezvous with my long time friend, Jack.
Jack and I thruhiked the John Muir Trail back in '97, during which we first talked about possibly hiking the PCT. Thirteen years later, Jack and his enamorada, Octavia, are helping me resupply by hiking in my food for the next 6 days. They had a 10 mile hike over snow covered Keasarge Pass to reach our rendezvous point, ice-covered Charlotte Lake. I must say, this is an incredibly kind gesture that I am amazed they were able to pull off. I am greatly indebted to their gratitude. After yesterday's exhausting Whitney summit, my concern this morning was I wasn't certain if I would make today's planned rendezvous.
We left camp by 7 AM. The approach to Forester Pass involved traveling across a 14 mile snow covered trail. There were also three relatively easy creek fords. As a habit, I walk through these creeks leaving my shoes on. It's just safer this way. However, when you walk through freezing water following by walking through snow, your feet are wet and your shoes are covered with snow. There really isn't much of an option other than to keep walking in order to stimulate blood flow in your feet. This will also quicken your pace.
After the third creek ford, Avo passed me and I followed him towards Forester pass. Forester is not only exhausting but is a little sketchy. This time of year there is a steep snow slope that one must climb straight up. The trick is to keep moving, focus on each foot step, and, of course, don't look down! When you reach the top of the slope, you scramble up steep loose talus, and finally reach the easy clear PCT trail of switch backs. But the fun doesn't stop there. Before you reach the pass, there is a steep snow chute you must traverse. Slipping and falling is certain death. Luckily there were some brave souls before me who cut deep steps into the snow across the sketchy snow chute. This obviously greatly facilitates the traverse. When I reached the top I saw Avo along with Riff-Raff, Frog, and Duff. It was 2:30 PM and I was relieved to have the hard part over.
We encountered even more snow descending Forester Pass. However, we were able to make good time before we started postholing. At one point I fell through the soft snow all the way to my crotch while my feet were standing in an undersnow creek. A good sense of humor greatly helps at this point. When Riff-Raff postholed ahead of a train of us he had problems getting back up out of the snow. Riff-Raff is one of those guys who hikes in a skirt, so when rolled over flashing everyone we all looked away and broke into hysterical laughter.
By the time I reached the junction to Charlotte Lake the sun was setting. The lake was not easy to locate due to the snow covered trail but I managed to find it right at twilight. I yelled across the barren ice covered lake "Jack-son!!". There was no answer and I hadn't seen any footprints down by the lake. I started to worry. Various backup plans went through my head.
Then all of a sudden I heard our distinctive neighborhood whistle. I roared back. Their voices roared back. I was very relieved and excited beyond words. Finally I saw Jack and Octavia. Unexpectedly, my other long-time friend, Jeff Spillers, was also there! I gave them all such big hugs I think I heard a few of their vertebrae crack.
They fed me some great food and we stayed up till past 11 PM exchanging snow stories of the past few days and catching up. It felt so good! I was so excited! Great friends! Thanks y'all!