Pacific Crest Trail (2018) 14: Wind and Hail and Snow, Oh My

Saturday, June 09, 2018 – 13.20 miles

I dreamed last night that my water filter had frozen and been ruined, and woke in the dark environs of 3:00 AM to frigid air. I didn’t think that the temperature was below freezing, but brought my filter into my sleeping bag just to be safe.

The day dawned cold, with a lattice of white clouds backed by blue sky. I can’t give you an estimate of how cold, since my mini thermometer broke within two seconds of me starting the PCT, but I wore my down jacket for much of the day and didn’t get down past two layers. I knew that I wasn’t just being a wimp either (a legitimate possibility), because the first hiker I saw was wearing gloves.

After a descent to Scott Mountain Campground, which is virtually on the trail but has no water or trash bins, the trail climbed into the stunning Trinity Alps Wilderness. Low-hanging clouds were rolling across the mountains but with the speed of the wind, no feature was shielded for long. I wanted to leave the PCT and bushwhack around for a few days!

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The section with the best views was also the most exposed. Presently I noticed white flurries. At first I thought they were seeds, then they thickened to cover the sky and I realized they were tiny pieces of hail. The sun was still shining, producing a bizarre effect. 

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I was heading right into the weather, so I took shelter within a cluster of boulders for fifteen minutes until the cloud passed. I had wanted to camp at a ridge campsite which. Was. Stunning. but unfortunately too exposed given the potential for worsening winds, hail and snow. Continuing onwards, I met two SOBO hikers, one of whom was wearing shorts and short sleeves. I said aren’t you cold, and he said that he was super cold but got sweaty when wearing more clothes. There must be a happy medium, man! Poor Guy in Shorts!

As I passed into a more sheltered section, snow began falling thickly. The temperature wasn’t low enough yet for the snow to stick, but I reiterate: poor Guy in Shorts! I passed more SOBO hikers, one of whom was sitting beneath a sunbrella, before finding a decently sheltered campsite where I set up my tent. The temperature was dropping and the snow began sticking. I wanted to get into my nice warm sleeping bag quickly, so I ate half-cooked rice for supper. Chewy in the worst way. The worst.

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The Altaplex: not a warm tent.

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