Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail Hike: CA Section G – Mile 653 – 766

Pacific Crest Trail Hike: CA Section G – Mile 653 – 766

Hello from the Pacific Crest Trail! CA Section G was a rollercoaster due to the utter highs and the hard lows. There were a ton of accomplishments and events during this time frame, so forgive a slightly longer post!

The next section is the longest on trail (176 miles!) so it will be a few weeks before I am able to update you all, but thank you for your continued interest!

PCT CA Section G Summary

Statistics:

  • Days: 8
  • Full hiking days: 6
  • Zeroes: 1
  • Neros: 1
  • Total Trail Miles Hiked: 119.6
  • Total Miles Hiked: 124.7
  • Trail Elevation Gain: 23,646 ft
  • Trail Elevation Loss: 19,073 ft

Highlights:

  • Completing 700 miles and the entire desert section of the Pacific Crest Trail!
  • Arriving in Kennedy Meadows and heading into the high mountains.
  • Good communication amongst our solid Sierra Squad!

Lowlights:

  • Last of desert was hard with storms and snakes.
  • Poor communication amongst the initial group lead to safety concerns in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
  • An upsetting interaction with an establishment owner put a sour taste in my mouth.

PCT CA Section G Detailed Version

Day 48: Mile 653.3 – 658.1

  • Trail Daily Miles: 4.8
  • Total Daily Miles: 4.8
  • Total Trail Mileage: 658.1
  • Elevation Gain: 1442 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 209 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: I’m camping alone!

Though my zero day in Ridgecrest was fruitful and relaxing for me, it was not for Bobcat. His backpack had broken a few weeks prior and he had been hiking with awkward weight distribution since. He was supposed to pick up his new pack 3 days prior, but alas – the post office.

That being said, I headed out this afternoon and caught a free shuttle bus back to Walker Pass. My plan was to hike only a few miles in hopes that he could catch up the next day. Canuck and Squirrel had already left earlier in the day and we had plans to meet them in Kennedy Meadows before the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

I met some wonderful other hikers on the bus, which was a treat! This included 2 18-year olds that have more bravery than I could ever muster. I’m doing this as a confident mid-30s person, I can’t imagine doing it at age 18!

I only hiked a few miles as planned and set up camp for the night. This was a huge milestone for me as I have never camped alone. Of all the camping and backpacking I’ve done, never has it been by myself. Though I had hoped and partially promised (sorry, Grandma!) that I wouldn’t do it, there was something poetic about me wrapping up the desert portion of this trail showing off my growth by camping alone. Did I love the rogue sandstorm that blew in piles of sand around 1am? No. But did I love that I was brave enough to camp alone? Yes. I’m so very proud of myself.

Day 49: Mile 658.1 – 684.5

  • Trail Daily Miles: 26.4
  • Total Daily Miles: 26.8
  • Total Trail Mileage: 684.5
  • Elevation Gain: 5061 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 5440 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: I’m camping alone and haven’t spoken to anyone in over a day.

Waking up alone in camp was a new experience for me. I didn’t have anyone to confer with about what time to leave nor chat about the obstacles that lay ahead. I got packed up later than normal because I didn’t want to hike before first light without another person (hello, bears/mountain lions/etc). Though I had been in contact with Bobcat and he was going to be able to get his pack that day, therefore I could hike away!

I wanted to do a larger day in preparation for a shorter hiking day the following day to get to Kennedy Meadows. I knew it was going to be a slog, so I just had to woman up and do it!

There was a brutal climb halfway through the day that seemed to go on forever. It ranked in the top 5 hardest/longest climbs thus far in the desert. Of course I stumbled upon a rattlesnake tail sticking out of the bushes (picture below). I began to roll rocks its way to encourage it to move, but I only made it mad and it struck up the rattling. I found another way around it but goodness the desert was not letting me leave peacefully!

Eventually I made it to camp, a sad lonely spot in a forest. It was eerily quiet but I put on my bravest face and charged up my satellite communicator in case of emergencies. Did I mention there was no phone service and I had only seen 2 other hikers that day? I also put on my white noise phone application to mildly drown out any rogue twigs that broke. Note that I did not put in my earplugs even though I wanted to!

Day 50: Mile 684.5 – 703.4

  • Trail Daily Miles: 18.9
  • Total Daily Miles: 19.8
  • Total Trail Mileage: 703.4
  • Elevation Gain: 2649 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 3162 ft
  • Weather: Sun, Rain, Thunderstorm
  • Overall Day Sentiment: Kennedy Meadows! Just plain proud of myself.

Whereas the day before I woke with trepidation, this day I woke with pure joy and pride. This day was the official end of the desert potion of the Pacific Crest Trail, which is the longest of the 5 trail sections.

I broke down camp quickly and began hiking at first light again. There was one climb straight away in the morning up to 8,000 feet, which went super smoothly. I was excited because I would soon be heading into the high mountains where elevation would be a huge factor in my success. The remainder of the day was mostly a descent with some small hills mixed in. I was able to do quick miles because of this. There were also dark storm clouds coming in quickly so I had hoped to reach Kennedy Meadows before that.

I was unsuccessful and got caught in the rain. It rained in earnest for the last 2 hours of my hiking day, but luckily I had the proper rain gear after some unfortunate situations in the beginning of the trail. The rain couldn’t stop my excitement though as I passed mile 700!

I walked into Kennedy Meadows, a small village that is situated at the start of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This marks over 25% done with the entirety of the trail! There is a famous General Store close to trail where a few things happen; you get clapped for as you walk up, you receive your Sierra gear packages, you relax on the porch for an undisclosed amount of time, and you can weigh yourself.

I unfortunately did not receive “the clap” as it was raining upon my arrival a therefore there were not folks on the porch. I also looked quite special and maybe a hiker or maybe not one in my giant poncho that covers my pack. Squirrel, Canuck, and others were there inside to greet me and get me settled!

I quickly set up my tent and decided against grabbing my packages yet because why get cardboard wet? I did weigh myself and much to my surprise I had lost 15lbs in the desert! This is after I had lost roughly 20lbs training for this (among other things) so I haven’t seen this low of a weight in a decade. All the while, I’ve been eating anything and everything I want. Maybe I should always be hiking this much… sure is fun.

A group of us headed to the other establishments, Grumpy Bears and Triple Crown Outfitters, in the area 3 miles down the road for some gear, dinner, and drinks. This was a huge celebration! Bags and Prick were there and talk of heading into the Sierra began. Bobcat was pounding out huge mileage days so he could catch up and head into the mountains as a group of 6.

We all had a great time that evening, but missed the shuttle back to the General Store (this is a theme) and had to walk the 3 miles back. After hiking nearly 20, I was tuckered out! I fell asleep that night with sore feet and a happy heart.

Day 51: Mile 703.4

  • Trail Daily Miles: 0
  • Total Daily Miles: 0
  • Total Trail Mileage:
  • Elevation Gain: 0
  • Elevation Loss: 0
  • Weather: Sun, Chilly
  • Overall Day Sentiment: Nerves are kicking up.

After a great night of sleep, I had breakfast at the Kennedy Meadows General Store (thank you, Huckleberry!) and waited for Bobcat to arrive. I picked up my 2 packages that included my ice axe, microspikes, and my (dreaded) bear canister. There was also a full resupply which was wildly heavy, but it was appreciated, thank you at home Support Person!

I was able to shower in an outdoor shower stall and do a quick load of laundry. Despite being a small place, the General Store had everything I needed! We went back to the other establishment in town and had a horrible experience. Just know that though they provide a shuttle to pick you up from

the General Store, they will strand you. Though I walked back the day prior and confirmed with the driver the frequency of the shuttle going back, we still waited over and hour and half. Eventually the owner of the establishment gave us a ride back but berated us the whole drive. He had me in tears over the 3 mile short drive and I would never recommend anyone going there again. The name of the place is correctly named.

After that, our group tried to calm down for the night and tucked in. It was a big day the next day heading into the Sierra and we were trying to focus on that.

Day 52: Mile 703.4 – 720.5

  • Trail Daily Miles: 17.1
  • Total Daily Miles: 17.8
  • Total Trail Mileage: 720.5
  • Elevation Gain: 4348 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 2319 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: Anxious to tackle the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Our group of 6 (picture below) had breakfast again in the morning at the General Store which was a nice start to the day. We weighed our packs and were floored at the numbers. With a 6 day food carry and our new gear, my pack weighed in at 38lbs!

We did the short road walk back to the trail and then started through the meadow and canyon. The canyon was where we started gaining a lot of elevation and it was unfortunately a pretty warm day. Sure felt like the desert even though we were in the transition area to the high mountains. This meant we were still seeing some cacti juxtaposed next to snow capped peaks.

The day blurred a bit as the group continued at different hiking speeds. We eventually regrouped and decided on going just a bit further that would set us up for a productive next day. Eventually we would have to shift our waking schedule to accommodate the snow which is always painful. We decided on a 4am wake up and a 5am departure.

Day 53: Mile 720.5 – 738.2

  • Trail Daily Miles: 17.7
  • Total Daily Miles: 17.8
  • Total Trail Mileage: 738.2
  • Elevation Gain: 4177 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 2251 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: Already hating snow.

Our 5am departure time came quickly and we were greeted with a large climb to start the day. We got to over 10,000 ft and some folks started to feel the altitude. I was lucky that I had been living in Colorado and spent time at altitude, so I felt okay. We continued at these higher elevations and quickly ran into snow.

The snow was on an angled slope, so we decided to get out our ice axes for a bit of gear practice! It was not a dangerous section in any way, but the axe practice was great for things to come.

The day continued on and we essentially split up into 3 groups of 2 based on hiking speeds. Bobcat and I were in the middle grumbling, laughing at, and already loathing the slushy snow. There were several non threatening slips on my part and he slipped in the same spot once, which just hit my funny bone and set off one of my giggle fits.

We eventually got to camp after a long day and was delighted to see that Prick and Bags had found a good spot near a water source! We were all eating dinner together when talks of summiting Mount Whitney began. Bags and Prick wanted to attempt a summit and would ration their food to accommodate an extra day that Whitney requires. Canuck and Squirrel said that they wanted to summit but needed to get off in Lone Pine at Cottonwood Pass to get more food. Bobcat and I would continue as planned.

Day 54: Mile 738.2 – 757.0

  • Trail Daily Miles: 18.8
  • Total Daily Miles: 19.6
  • Total Trail Mileage: 757.0
  • Elevation Gain: 2913 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 2305 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: Disappointed in some people, happy with overall day.

When we woke up, a bit earlier this morning at a 4am departure time, Canuck and Squirrel were already gone. With no solid communication, this was disappointing. Additionally as I had been hiking with them on and off for several hundred miles, I was sad to lose them so unceremoniously.

The 4 remaining folks rallied and we continued on as planned. Leaving at 4am was hard but it was the right move as the snow travel was much easier when it was hard. We traveled again over some angled snow that had us slipping. Please see funny photo of me below at the bottom of a hill in a tree well!

The remainder of the day went off without a hitch and we were able to do a big mile day, despite the snow conditions!

One note about hiking groups and the Sierra Nevada mountains. It is imperative to have open and direct communication for your success. Success to me looks like entering and exiting the Sierra healthy and without bodily harm. When there is a lack of communication, it is a safety issue. The people you decide to go into this section with are your safety counterparts that help you in times of need. That could look like determining where to cross a high river, how to get over a mountain pass, or commiserating with at the end of the day. I’m thankful that the 4 of us have been able to have direct but tough conversations which has helped our safety and planning immensely!

Day 55: Mile 757 – 772.9

  • Trail Daily Miles: 15.9
  • Total Daily Miles: 18.2
  • Total Trail Mileage: 772.9
  • Elevation Gain: 3056 ft
  • Elevation Loss: 3386 ft
  • Weather: Sun
  • Overall Day Sentiment: So THIS is the real Sierra.

We had another 4am departure time, though it was still not getting any easier. It is hard to fall asleep when it is light until nearly 8pm! But it is worth it for the miles we were able to do on the hard snow. When the sun finally came up, we were greeted with gorgeous scenery. The further we were getting on the trail, the higher up we went, the more beautiful the mountains were becoming!

Our angled snow adventures continued but we were getting better at it. Eventually we got to the famous Crabtree meadows where we had a great lunch. It was after a water crossing so we were able to dry out shoes and socks while snacking. We saw a fox running through the snow and trout swimming in the meandering streams!

This is also near where Bobcat and I dropped off Bags and Prick to the Mount Whitney spur trail. They were planning on summiting that next morning and waking up around midnight to do so! Bobcat and I continued on for another planned 7 miles.

Crabtree meadow is officially where this section ends, hence why the mileage on this post looks a little off.

I say planned because we quickly ran into some major obstacles. First, the angled snow started up again, but this time it was in the afternoon therefore it was slushy. We got out our ice axes and luckily we did because we both did slip down the mountain. Bobcat had a sincere 40 foot slide in which he self arrested on with his axe. It was slushy enough that it didn’t hold him but at least slowed him down while he landed in a tree well. I intentionally self arrested down the same steep area and luckily my axe did hold. All in all, this mile section took us well over an hour.

We continued on while a little shaken. We eventually ran into a stream crossing that by 5pm had turned into a sincere river crossing.  After nearly an hour of searching for a safe spot to cross, we determined there was none and we would have to wait until morning. This was the first time that plans had been so disrupted it added an extra day of foot travel. We had planned to summit Forester Pass the next morning, but now that would have to wait. We used our Satellite Communicator to chat with Bags and Prick and give them a heads up for the terrain ahead so they could make a determination about Mount Whitney. At this point, we now all had to ration food.

Enjoy some photographs from the end of the desert and start of the mountains in CA Section G!

Xoxo Leeann/Kanga 🦘

 

 

Fun switchbacks in the distance at Walker Pass.

My first night camping alone!

Do you see what I see? A rattlesnake tail greeted me, then it turned into an angry rattlesnake.

Crossed the 700 mile mark!

Last of the desert views. These giant boulders looked like a dinosaur vertebrae.

The storm rolling in over my last few miles in the desert.

Arriving in Kennedy Meadows was a wet, but joyful experience.

The famous Kennedy Meadows General Store. Do you see the formal greeter on the porch?

Triple Crown Outfitters was a must stop while in KMS!

Celebrating the end of the desert with Squirrel, Canuck, Prick, and Bags!

Our original group of 6 that left Kennedy Meadows (L to R): Prick, Canuck, Bags, Squirrel, Kanga (me!), and Bobcat.

Campsite deer relics again.

Stars and Milky Way were beautiful (excuse the poor photography, I’m working with only an iPhone).

Starting to run into snow and Mountain View’s the higher up on elevation we went!

Candy cane trees and mountains.

Happy as can be eating breakfast near a stream.

The views keep on coming!

Me 20 feet down from a snow slide. Luckily I was giggling this time hence the photo, but the other times? They hurt.

Thankful for my trusty group of 4 at the top of a climb!

Going to the mountains, be back later.

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