In 2019, there were hella high levels of snow in the Sierra Mountain Range. The snowpack was at 176%, which left us Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers with a difficult decision to make: do we try to hike through the Sierra or figure out another option? Eventually, Tuna Butter and I settled on skipping 400 miles north into Northern California. This blog post picks up after that skip. You can learn more about what went into that decision-making process in our previous post “To Hike, Flip, Skip or Quit in the Snow Sierra?“
We jumped north into Truckee, California and set off on the PCT from Donner Pass (Mile 1157). We made the skip with a trail friend named Fish Addict. After a bus and a hitch, we set off in the early evening of the Summer Solstice.
It was inevitable that we’d hit snow. We were hiking this section earlier in the season than most thru-hikers. Because of this, we came prepared with our ice axes and microspikes. On a normal year, these items would be unnecessary for this section, but we were glad to have them.
Our original plan for day one was to stay at a hut on trail – one of the few rare ones along the entire PCT. We left Donner Pass separately from Fish Addict, fully intending to meet up that night. Right away, we were walking on several feet of snow. It was a pain to navigate through the thick forest with no trail markers. The GPS on our phones came in handy, as well as our own intuition. Surprisingly, we crossed paths with a SOBO (southbounder) who informed us that the Sierra Club had rented out the hut for the night and were not letting thru-hikers stay there, which was a major disappointment.
Instead, we found a spot to sleep on an exposed ridge. It was super windy but miraculously snow free. We texted Fish Addict with a plan to meet up the next day. Tuna Butter hardly slept that night and kept worrying that the wind would rip apart our tent. Fortunately, that didn’t happen (thanks Big Agnes!).
In the morning we passed the hut full of Sierra Clubbers, all warm and snuggly by their wood stove. I, Calypso, tried not to feel envious as I wore all of my warm layers to hike.Continue reading