THE ‘LAST’ OF THE SIERRA!

PCT DAY 80.. June 24th Mile 1023 9200 feet 7 miles

Total confusion this morning as we had arranged a lift out of town and back up to Sonora Pass.. where we’d left the trail a few days earlier..

Lou.. had arranged to meet us at the court house in Bridgeport at 11am.. a car pulls up and when asked by the girls if he ‘was’ Lou.. he replied yes.. thinking they’d asked if he ‘knew’ Lou??! He then went into the store.. and to save him time we thought we’d put our packs in the back of his ute??!!

Well.. he comes out.. sees our packs neatly lying in the back of his car.. and goes OFF HIS HEAD??! He threatened to get his gun out and shoot us (totally unnecessary?!) He was WILD!! We hurriedly unpacked just as our driver Lou pulled up in the same type of vehicle.. and explained the situation to his erstwhile friend!! Not something I’d like to repeat and I feel a total over reaction on his part in this trigger happy nation!!

Anyway.. not letting that spoil our day.. we were dropped at Sonora and gradually got back into hiking mode covering all the usual ups and downs in slushy afternoon snow.. before calling it a day and setting up camp for the night!

PCT DAY 81.. June 25th Mile 1037.1 8300 feet 14.1 miles

Getting back out on the trail.. back into the wilderness is always wonderful after a break and we all look forward to the serenity and silence of this world.. but without exception.. it is always tough! The packs are extra heavy with all the supplies.. and even a day or two in town tends to soften up both the muscles and resolve required for hiking!!

Recovery time during ‘zero’s’ is essential.. however the longer one spends in town.. the more exhausted you feel after your first few days back in the mountains! So though we undeniably look forward to our ‘zero’s’.. the sword is invariably double edged!!

PCT DAY 82.. June 26th Mile 1050.7 8800 feet 13.6 miles

Woke at 5 and on our way by 6 this morning.. not really too much to say about the day.. except that the scenery is slowly changing once again towards the northern Sierra!

More ups and downs than I’d like to count.. and even though we are reasonably low down.. the snow still persists.. and the day was once again made doubly tough by a combination of all the snow hills and the sun cups.. both exhausting.. and treacherous!

Otherwise a beautiful day.. we have been so very lucky with the weather.. every day sun and blue sky bar one or two! Today the wind is up but that just meant hiking was not as hot as it has been lately.. Into camp at 4pm.. and off to sleep now.. it’s just after 7pm!

PCT DAY 83.. June 27th Mile 1065 7800 feet 14.3 miles

FINALLY!! Today was the first day since the desert section that we’ve seen ‘mostly’ ‘dry trail’! This has really boosted morale.. and consequently the miles we covered increased..

We could have done more had it not been for an enormous ravine the trail traversed.. this was blocked by an extremely steep snow shut running out over a cliff!! This shut only blocked about 200 yards of the trail.. but after scouting above.. and deciding that was impossible.. we spent the next hour and a half descending the slippery shale rock face to the valley floor below.. before climbing the opposite side through a mixture of scrub.. shale and boulders!

Once through this however.. we made good mileage on the ‘dry’ trail.. though a significant part was still through boggy meadows and the usual creeks and streams that required fording! Nothing deep or fast flowing.. but the ‘dry foot’ policy went out the window as it just takes far too long to stop.. change into our river shoes.. cross and then change back.. every time we come to a creek or stream! Subsequently our boots were waterlogged for the greater part of the day?!!

Descending and scaling the rock face of the ravine left my knees painful for the remainder of the day’s hike.. but then I don’t believe a day goes by for any of us.. where there is not some form of leg or foot pain! Either blisters.. trench foot (from the constantly wet socks and boots!) sciatic problems.. knee.. ankle or joint pains etc.. The only thing to do is push through it and bear the pain in silence.. after all.. without exception.. when one is walking this distance.. day in and day out.. there will always be something!!

Camped in the forest.. with only a single slip of snow.. by a river that we will cross tomorrow morning at 5am.. first light.. thankfully with the help of two logs! For the beginning of the day at least.. we should have reasonably dry feet.. and remain true to our ideal of a ‘dry foot’ policy!

PCT DAY 84.. June 28th Mile 1082 8600 feet 17 miles!
Spring has sprung once again!! Today we passed wildflowers covering most of the hills.. mountains and meadows! I have not seen so many since the ‘super bloom’ of the southern Californian and Mohave deserts!

On waking.. we did manage to cross the creek on logs.. so the ‘dry foot’ policy lasted for a few hours at least! By the end of the day however.. we had crossed numerous creeks and streams.. so both boots and socks were once again soaked!!

As well as the time wasted changing into and out of our ‘river shoes’ (thus the soaked boots and socks.. as it really is not practical to constantly change for every single creek and stream!) We are also constantly donning crampons for the snowy patches.. and then removing them if we have prolonged dry stretches! (This is also a huge time waster.. so we try to leave the crampons on for as long as is comfortable on dry trail.. only to remove them and find that around the next bend is a snowy traverse that requires we once again stop and for safety.. don crampons to ensure we don’t slide over some precipice!) This can be both exhaustingly frustrating.. and again.. a huge time waster!

Today thankfully.. we were on dry trail for most of the day.. this was however interspersed by the usual snowy patches.. and at the worst possible places.. therefore requiring crampons on and off.. on and off.. on and off.. infinitum.. all day long?!! (This has been the case for practically the WHOLE Sierra!!)

We passed some beautiful stretches.. and the scenery was panoramic however the day ended with us walking through beautiful meadows with extremely boggy ground!

At one stage we dropped into the Carson Pass Ranger Station and were met by Karen and Bonnie.. two rangers who pulled out all the stops as far as a welcome went.. serving us up cut fruit and vegetables.. biscuits and sodas! Thank you both so much.. the welcome was very much appreciated by us all!

Camping tonight by a lake in the mountains.. on dry ground which is nice.. and up tomorrow morning again at 4am for an early start and the final stretch into Lake Tahoe! We will only be staying there one night though.. so no ‘zero’! Just enough time to resupply and move on to Sierra City about 4 to 5 days ahead!

(Added note; I mention the ‘dry foot’ policy as a joke amongst us.. as I don’t believe that a day has gone by here in the Sierra when.. by the end of the day our boots and socks are not soaked.. and then.. the following morning we again wrap these still wet and now FREEZING socks and boots around our unwilling feet?!!)

PCT DAY 85.. June 29th Mile 1090.9 8.9 miles (Lake Tahoe)

Literally hopped and skipped across the icy mountains this morning as we completed the 8.9 miles to Highway 50 and hitched a ride to Lake Tahoe! Now resupplying and washing clothes etc before checking in to the Budget Inn for the night..

The section we have just finished is officially the last of the Sierra! There will be snow at higher elevations in the weeks and months to come.. but nothing like the constant snow of the last 6 weeks.. YAHOO!!

Time for a burger or two.. or three.. fries and an extra large shake!!

Afterthought.. “What’s in a step?”
None of us think much about this.. but today as we were racing down the boulder strewn trail I spent a couple of hours thinking how incredible our minds.. brain and body work so perfectly together..
I counted approximately 90 steps per minute as we literally flew down the uneven trail.. and every single step has to be first seen through the eyes.. then transferred to the brain.. calculating the angle and length of the step.. and then pass this on down to the next foot taking that step?!
I also realized that by the time we ‘take’ that next step.. our eyes and senses have already moved on to assessing the following step.. thereby leaving the immediate foot to retain the information of angle.. length and severity.. to function on its own! (We are ALWAYS thinking about one step ahead and not the immediate step.. that immediate step has already been assessed!)
Then just as quickly.. as soon as the step is taken.. the information is immediately discarded and the brain assesses the next step but one!
AND this is done so fast and without thought that it is possible to chat.. count and think of other things whilst doing these 90 extremely tricky.. uneven steps per minute!
WOW.. the power and co ordination of the brain and body!!
Just a thought!

10 thoughts on “THE ‘LAST’ OF THE SIERRA!

  1. Well done team. What an amazing feat to have crossed the Sierra in such arctic and extreme conditions.The photos and videos have allowed us to participate in your adventures from the safety and warmth of our armchairs…..thank goodness! Very few people would have been able to achieve what you all have just accomplished.We just loved the photos and narrative. It’s all so spectacularly beautiful. Don’t try and multi task too much while leaping from boulder to boulder! Take care all of you and continue the amazing adventure. XX

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  2. Dearest Chris, we’d always thought you might get hurt by falling on the trail, not by some trigger happy numpty! Glad you managed to sort the situation and the real Lou turned up to explain, glad you have managed to get back into your stride, but feel for you all with the wet feet, don’t think I could cope with that everyday, and cold feet too! Loved your point about one step in front of the other, the human body is amazing, it’s only when you loose the ‘automatic’ ability that you do actually think about what’s happening, or when you do something extreme like you that you do appreciate the mind and body total togetherness, keep on enjoying my friend, once again I find myself saying amazing more than once connected with you and the fantastic walk you are doing, there you go, another word! Love as always, be safe, J & D xxxxxxx

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  3. Amazing. Wow! Beautiful! And yes the body and brain are amazing. Especially the brain which we so take for granted. Walking every step with you in spirit. Lots of love. Debbie xxx

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  4. Can’t see your feet, Chris but the rest of you looks amazingly well! Brilliant to have covered over a 1000 miles already. I’m loving every minute even though
    it’s cold in Melbourne (not comparable with your cold!)! Wild flowers especially lovely. Keep on keeping on! xxxx

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  5. Hahó dear Chris, congrats to the small team, amazing achievement thru the Snowy Range! Indeed, body & mind are capable of “producing” unbelievable things. They can re-wire unwilling feet and push us further as much as they can make us aware of the (first) unconscious joy felt about the beauty of wildflowers. Btw, those flowers are just gorgeous. Spring seems so lovely in the mountains. Stay safe & found, and keep above all the Happy Campers you have been becoming. Enjoy your steps, and also the discoveries over those steps. Keep on walking and dreaming. Cheers for all.

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  6. We continue to be in awe, Chris – you and your team are just amazing, coping with everything that’s being dealt you. Thank you so much for your onward adventure details and wonderful photos. Great thoughts about the ‘step’ – may your onward steps be exciting and safe. Much love, D&S xx

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  7. Well done to all of you – it must be a relief out of the Sierras. More beautiful photos and interesting blog – so wonderful that we can all feel like a part of the journey (at least in a small way) 🙂

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  8. Looking good Christopher! Really good, now that is pretty indeedy! Oh yeh….that’s why if it’s a BIG THOUGHT you literally have to ‘stop and think’. We loving every step you take. Hi to the team. Lolkammaxxx

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  9. Amazing photos. But you are amazing also Keep safe and keep taking those steps You have a lot of time to think and dream. We love it Lots of love xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Chris your last message is amazing it is about judging, calculating and doing each step to be safe. You are incredible we are so proud of you. What an adventure and feat. You are so strong, dedicated and motivated. Love the pics they are so amazing. Also you would have made some life long friends. Congratulations. Keep well, strong and safe. Love you xx

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