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Jack and Barb
Begins: Apr 17, 2011
Date: Tue, Jun 14th, 2011
Daily Distance: 12
Trip Distance: 786.4
Entry Visits: 1,857
Journal Visits: 387,848
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Guestbook Entrys: 482
Duncan and Barbara showed up at 6 am. They had camped a few mile away last night. With our prior knowledge of Tyndall Creek, we were able to zip right through. Jack went first and shot video of Boo Boo, Barb and Dunc crossing arm in arm. If all the rivers are like this, we will be very happy campers. Today was Forrester Pass day. Forrester Pass, at 13,153 feet (4,009 m) is the highest point on the PCT.
We had our microspikes on for most of the day today. The approach to Forrester is a long one and as we got closer, we realized that the switch back trail on the lower flanks of the mountain were buried under snow. A path of sorts had been established so Dunc took the lead, and with his big heavy boots, kicked in some very nice foot holds in the snow.
This route up was not for the faint of heart. The face was quite steep and the snow was still a bit hard and slick. We all were using an ice axe (on the uphill side) and a trekking pole on the downhill side. Again, for three points of support. If one slips here, it is imperative to self arrest quickly. This would mean dumping the hiking pole and grabbing the ice axe with both hands. If you took a slide here, you would take a long ride down but probably only get some bad road rash or minor injuries - and then, you would have to climb up again. Then again, if you did self arrest, you would most likely lose your hiking pole so, focus on every step and don't look back down. In situations like this, we are very thankful for our years of rock climbing. You get over your fears of exposed areas. For contrast, we would call this a black diamond or expert ski run. It was steep for about 500 vertical feet.
Up near the top we were on dirt switchback trail again and the trail takes you to the dreaded couloir walk across. A couloir is a narrow gully with a steep gradient on mountainous terrain. This couloir was about 25 feet wide. This steep snow chute had steps laid across the snow (thank you Ned, if you did it). It would be just like walking across your living room and stepping on painted feet on your floor. Just keep telling yourself that! Remember the log crossing? OK, just like walking across your living room floor. For us it was a piece of cake. We used the pick side of our ice ace and smacked it into the uphill side for support, took a step, then repeated the process.
But Forrester wasn't about to let us up so easily. The last 20 feet of trail was covered with snow and there was an unstable cornice overhanging the summit. We had to rock climb (class 3-4) up and over the trail to reach the top. A hiker named Ethan (Ironman) joined us and we had a fun time at the top and ate lunch.
On the descent, we got off route and were looking at steep dropoffs on three sides. We had to be way down there below, where the PCT ran so we backtracked a bit and followed Ironman down a very steep snow face. The snow was so soft though that if you fell, you would just plop into a mushy blob of snow. We were postling up to our kneecaps. Soon the gradient let up a bit and the rocks below were not on the fall line so a nice fun glissade was in order.
Another river crossing today as well. Think it was about mile780, maybe Bubbs Creek? Relatively easy.
We covered 12 miles today in 9 1/2 hours. Vertical about 3,000 feet and we are camped at some of the only dirt we have seen for miles - looks like an old horse corral at 9,900 feet.
Jack And Barb Take On The PCT
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