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Country: United States
Begins: May 5, 2010
Date: Tue, Jun 29th, 2010
Start: A creek above Cold Canyon (954.0)
End: Benson Lake (973.1)
Daily Distance: 20
Trip Distance: 1,015.4
Entry Visits: 909
Journal Visits: 151,392
Guestbook Views: 14,738
Guestbook Entrys: 179
Pacific Crest Trail Map
(Click image for full size)
Today was one of those adventurous days. It had a good dose of everything: snow, passes, navigation, fords, etc. It appears the herd has exploded while most hikers either took time off or skipped ahead. Still, some of us stayed the course. Apparently our small group is now towards the front of this pack. Today it seemed like we were the only ones to go through this area as I spent much of the day kicking fresh steps into snow. Any tracks before us must have melted away.
The trail immediately north of Glen Aulin was not initially designed to be part of the PCT. Instead the PCT was stitched together using a series of isolated rugged mountain trails to make a continuous path. This northern Yosemite landscape isn't conducive for easy to moderate PCT-grade trail. The west-to-east deep granite valleys and mountain ranges cause the trail to be a steep roller coaster ride. The crumbling granite trails force you to constantly focus on where you place your feet.
The highlight today for me was Materhorn Canyon, a Yosemitesque deep canyon. The middle of the canyon has a medium-size creek bordered by an open field of short grass. This creek was the easiest ford we had today.
Speaking of which, today's hike was sponsored by Ford. We had a minimum of ten creek fords today! I lost count after eight. Most were mid-thigh level, while several were near our waste. I traveled most of the day with Stick and Transient. It was really nice to have them around, particularly towards the end of the day.
At Smegberg Lake, we started towards Benson Lake and the trail soon disappeared under the snow. We headed down the drainage but still saw no trail. We started to boulder hop down a hillside before decided to pull out the maps and reaccess our location. Transient's GPS showed that we had to climb another 400 feet to get back on trail. The alternative was to continue down a steep drainage where the trail eventually intersected. A decision was to be made, efficiency or safety? We chose the latter and climbed back up and found the trail. By the time we crossed the bottom of the drainage I looked up to see our alternative off-trail route: a 1,000 foot granite face with a series of 10+ foot high waterfalls. Another mountaineering lesson was learned today: if there is a choice always pick safety over efficiency. Also, try to stick to the trail so if something happens, you can wait for another hiker to come along.
The day ended with trying to get to Benson Lake, where we planned to camp. The trail around Benson Lake had literally turned into a delta. We had six creek fords in less than a quarter mile. We hopped from island to island. It was one after another. These were very deep creek fords too. We searched around just to find a place where the creeks were only waist deep. Once we finally managed to pass all the creeks we traversed over to Benson Lake only to find the lake's shoreline flooded well into the forest. The lake's beach was inaccessible. The forest had turned into a marsh and the mosquitoes were partying hard. Exhausted, we found a dry island in the swampy forest and set up camp. A campfire dried our soaked shoes and replenished our spirits.
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