Crash Course

 

Only three storms have interfered with my PCT thru hike so far, and it just so happened that the worst of the three storms hit while Katie section hiked with me near Donner Pass. Katie currently lives in Davis, CA which sits just a few hours from the trail, but we met in Colorado when we both worked for Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. When I announced my plan to hike the PCT Katie expressed interest in hiking with me while I was in her neck of the woods. I didn't know the hike would turn into a crash course in thru hiking.

The first day was nice, but we faced a good climb out of the valley which took most of the day. After we setup camp it started to sprinkle and it continued to sprinkle off and on for most of the night and early morning. The next morning it appeared as if we had been whisked away to Northern Washington with the mountains socked in, and a light drizzle which saturated everything. As we finished our climb to the top of the ridge the drizzle turned to rain mixed with strong winds. For several miles we battled the rain and wind as we traversed along the top of the ridge crest.  In the rocky sections above tree line our trekking poles helped keep us from being blown off trail by the forceful winds. Our shoes were soaked (which was the norm for me in the High Sierra) and after a few miles we were pretty well wet through and through. We hiked faster than the day before just to stay warm. Luckily, a few miles up trail we stumbled into a ski hut where three runners, and two other thru hikers took refuge from the storm. The runners wore only shorts and lightweight wind shirts, and if it wasn't for the hut and the wood stove the runners would have faced a major uphill battle with hypothermia. 

The wood stove helped dry our clothes while the storm began to break up. All three thru hikers agreed the storm ranked high in miserable experiences on the PCT.  To a degree, discomfort is simply one big component of a thru hike, and a hiker must adapt and learn to persevere   through each day, pushing one step closer to Canada. I would say Katie passed her crash course in thru hiking.  She persevered with a smile.