Arturo nicely offered to take me backpacking, and given that I was at an office in Tahoe just the days before (where we ended up getting a snow storm and 3-4 inches of snow), he came to pick me up on friday afternoon, and we drove to Topaz Lake in nevada to spend the night and be reasonably close to the trail the next morning:
nice morning fog
soon crossed the snow line
It had been since 2010 since I actually had gone backpacking at all (one night in Grand Canyon, and my last backpacking trips in California were otherwise a whole 10 years ago (lost coast trail in 2008 and half of the JMT in 2007).
I somehow managed to do that JMT section with a starting load between 60 to 65lbs, and this time I had a mere 40lbs or so with my fanny pack. Still, it felt just as hard :) (ok, full disclosure: I was on the tail end of a cold, and well, keeping up with Arturo was not going to be a winning proposition either way :) ). Thankfully he was a good sport and waited for me where needed.
we eventually arrived to the trailhead, where PCT folks go to resupply
Our moving stats show that our overall average was a good amont faster than when I did the JMT and I was only averaging 1.1 to 1.4mph with all that weight vs 1.7 to 2.2mph here (Jennifer also liked more breaks and enjoying the scenary a bit longer).
Either way, here are the stats:
Move Ovrl Max Avg
Dist Time Move Avg Avg Cal HR HR Climb Desc
Day1 14.16 7h50 7h06 2.0 1.8 2600 168 132 3881 902
Day2 13.70 8h08 6h59 2.0 1.7 2287 152 122 931 2513
Day3 14.22 8h32 7h23 1.9 1.7 2494 158 121 2011 1007
Day4 9.55 4h23 4h11 2.3 2.2 1258 154 122 505 2906
Tot 51.63 28h53 25h39 2.0 1.9 8639 158 124 7328 7328
Comparing this with my JMT trip, my average heartrate was definitely higher, despite the ligher load and the lower resting heart rate I should have 10 years later. Likely a combination of lack of being in better shape and the cold.
I didn't know how much terrain we were supposed to cover on day 1, or I'd have hurried a bit more in the morning (oh yeah, on top of the cold I also had just come back from France and was severely jetlagged).
We started on the trail by 10:15, which was a bit late considering, but thankfully we made good pace (our best overall average for a day were were climbing)
ready to go
we quickly got to the snowline
deer hunting was allowed here, two hunters were hoping to be lucky (no wonder the deer were skittish there)
horses on the trail ensured we had a layer of fresh poop on the trail at all times :-/
some of the track was actually icy
climbing to the pass, more snowy
last pass before the lake (just shy of 10,000ft)
we felt thankful that we were not trailblazing, or we'd have lost of a lot of time getting to camp
now, it was 'just' a matter of finding a flat spot without snow on it
I eventually found something close enough to flat
The night was hellish cold, I had a 15F/-7C sleeping bag, and I my feet were quite cold in the tent despite 3 pairs of socks and 5 layers on my body, including a sweater and a light ski jacket (at least my core stayed warm). My hands were cold inside the sleeping bag while the entire tent was definitely below freezing (my boot froze inside the tent, and so did the water).
by then, we barely had 30mn before sunset, when it was going to become cold, very cold
The next morning, I was up before sunrise given that I had gone to bed so early due to temperatures, but neither Arturo or I wanted to venture outside until the sun at least hit our tent. We had a quick breakfast and went on our way:
Arturo's routing took a less busy trail which we had to trail blaze, mostly using my GPS
it was tempting to eat :)
we had a good amount of stream crossings, but thankfully we stayed dry on virtually all of them
always fun to see where glaciers left some rocks, and in which position
Eventually we got to our next lake:
this time we got a fire
The next morning, it was definitely warmer as the cold front had left by then. That was welcomed.
another stream crossing
a few packing horses came to check us out
came to sniff us :)
another quick pass
finally got to emigrant lake, it's quite large
our last plateau/pass
found a nice meadow for our last night
I spotted this little mouse that played dead so we wouldn't see it
The last day was an easy half day, mostly downhill. If it weren't for the dental infection I managed to get the day before, it would have been a piece of cake. We still made good time, but it wasn't as fun for me given the dental pain.
After 4.5H, we did the remaining 10 miles and got back out to Kennedy Meadows, looking back at the nice trip. Snow made it a bit harder, but it was definitely prettier. Putting aside the first night which was cold as crap, we actually had nice and warm enough weather the rest of the time.