Pacific Crest Trail – Day 49 (28 miles)
My alarm went off at 5.30. I’m not used to getting up this early anymore.
I packed up quickly and set off to try and get past the three creeks I had so much trouble with last time, and which caused me to turn back.
But first there’s a climb. Halfway up I ran into a hiker who I hadn’t seen for almost 500 miles.
We walked and chatted. Catching up on what we have been through and all the Sierra adventures we experienced.
We arrived at the first creek, McCabe, and it was easy. Last time it was a raging torrent, today it was knee deep and slow.
The next 2 creeks were slightly harder but still on the easy side. Last time they took me 10 hours to get past. This time it was less than an hour.
Only one more creek to go today, it is labelled as deep, wide and slow in the snow report. Maybe an afternoon swim will be in order.
But first I had to get over Benson Pass.
I walked up the valley on my way to the pass. It was beautiful, with open meadows and high, exposed granite walls on either side.
About halfway to the pass, I managed to startle a deer in the brush. She bolted across the stream. I took my camera out as it swam across, but was too slow. However, the next moment I see a tiny fawn floating down the creek. It got out but was so exhausted that it couldn’t move until its mother came back for it.
I did not think I could help. It saddened me, but I continued on.
Eventually, I got to the point where the trail starts to really climb for the pass. It was hard work. The hillside was steep and the trail was covered in snow, but eventually made it to the top.
I had lunch at the top with a group of 5 hikers. It was really interesting to hear how their experience differed to mine and what extent the 2 weeks I had off changed the high Sierra.
At the first signs of an afternoon thunderstorm, I quickly packed up and headed down the hill fast to get below treeline. On the way down I started to hear a few crashes of thunder. I hope I don’t get hit!
I got below treeline safely and the rest of the descent was mainly scrambling down a huge granite out cropping.
Now for the creek. As I was getting very close I see a woman heading south on the trail. I was worried that it would be a hard ford, but she spotted a log and was heading to it.
The river was maybe 10ft deep and very slow. The log was totally underwater, but appeared possible due to the lack of current.
I started heading across. It turned out to be easy and saved a swim. I have to say I’ve never crossed a creek before on an underwater log! This trip has seen a lot of firsts.
The hiker I just met trail name is DK and we chatted as we climbed for the second pass of the day. She’s a nurse and takes 3 month contracts throughout the US. It is amazing how much this has allowed her to travel. We also started the PCT on the same day!
Going up to the pass was easy. Coming down was snow covered and extremely steep. When we got to the bottom we were introduced to two things, Kerrich Creek and the hardest snow walking we’ve done to date.
Kerrich was huge. It was wide, deep and fast. Oh, and we had to cross it somehow (but that would be a problem for tomorrow). The snow was also extremely steep and one slip meant a slide into the water. There was one 15 yards section that we had to walk on a 4 inch wide snow bank with a 10ft drop to rocks on one side and a 60 degree slope into Kerrich on the other. This was far harder than any pass we have had to do, and it has been proclaimed as the Ridge of Death.
We continued down stream looking for a place to sleep. After a very slow mile we found not only the first dry spot but it was also flat!