10 Jun Day 42 – Postholing
At mile 1172.3. Hiked 14.7 miles today.
First let me revisit that avalanche chute at Sugar Bowl Ski Area.
Wait, as I’m writing this, I heard a sound outside my tent. It is a deer. It is about 30 feet away in the middle of the campsite and won’t go away. It is trying to eat something next to a log. Not grazing around, but working the same spot in the dirt. It has been 5 minutes and the deer is still at it. It’s a doe for you deer hunters. My theory is that someone peed on that log and the deer is trying to get the salt. I’ll leave the deer alone because don’t they keep bears away?
Back to the avalanche chute. As you recall, the trail traverses it, but I accidentally bypassed it by climbing steeply to the peak of Disney mountain. Today, I visited Peter Grub Ski Hut that is on the PCT. Extremely cool and remote place. A guy from the Netherlands named Weetz had stayed there the previous night. He told me that he had injured his arm in a fall yesterday and wondered whether he had to worry about infection. His forearm was wrapped from elbow to hand in gauze. I offered my Triple Antibiotic Ointment. That is when he explained that he fell trying to cross the Sugar Bowl Avalanche chute. Now, I don’t feel to bad about discouraging Rich on his hike. I had told him about this spot.
Sorry, it is hard to write with it getting dark and the deer snorting and making all kinds of racket around my tent.
Back to the story. Rich was only minutes from reaching the spot the trail crosses the avalanche chute. Rich has no Microspikes, much less an ice axe. Rich turned around without facing that danger.
Meanwhile, Weetz had no Microspikes or Ice axe either. He slipped and went hurtling down the slope. He stopped himself by using his … dang those deer … their snorts kind of startle you when you are by yourself in the dark woods…
He stopped himself by using his forearm as an ice axe, but he dragged it in the dirt when the ice ran out. He showed me a photo of his forearm that was a bloody mess. He showed me a photo of a sketch ice cornice that he had to walk out on where the trail started to cross the chute. I recognized it because I remember thinking at the time that I was glad the trail didn’t cross there, but it did cross there. One other thing, Weetz was one of the tracks I was following the 2nd day through Squaw Valley. He also met snowshoe guy and they were walking together for a while. I had to explain the word snowshoe to Weetz. His English is very good, but he didn’t know that word. What? A shoe made out of snow? Won’t it melt? Naw, he didn’t say that. I saw both the snowshoe tracks and Weetz tracks together in Squaw Valley.
It was warmer today and most of the snow had not frozen, so I couldn’t simply walk across the top with Microspikes like I was walking down a street. With every step, my foot sank and there was snow hiking. Lots of it! The good thing was that there were no treacherous slopes to worry about. The bad thing was that I couldn’t see the trail and had to use GPS a lot and wandered aimlessly through trees and huge sloped mounds of snow.
There were at least 3 long stretches of trail that was snow covered. After finally getting out of the first and longest, I started to figure out how to navigate better using Guthook. With no worry about dangerous snow crossings, I began to relax more and have a little fun figuring out my route. Sometimes I came out of the snow exactly on top of the trail. It kind of surprised me at how accurate I had gotten. My apologies to whoever follows my aimless and lost tracks that I made before getting the hang of navigating. They are going to be really mad at me for taking them through tangles of trees and branches and adding a lot of unnecessary walking.
One thing about walking through forest with 6 – 10 feet of snow…there are things under that snow. Things such as running water or full blown streams. There are large boulders, logs, and trees. Yes, trees. That’s right. There could be a spruce that is bent over from heavy snow and completely buried in that position, which leads to my story.
I’m walking through the woods as usual, climbing big mounds of snow and hoping that I’m going in something like the generally correct direction. I step up to the top of a giant pile of snow when a tree pops out of the snow and slaps me in the leg. I look around and see that I am surrounded by spring loaded saplings bent to the snow and ready to punish me. Oh great! The postholing isn’t enough. Which brings me to postholing.
What qualifies as postholing? The worst that I ever experienced was I the Smokies. With every other step I would break through a hard crust of ice and drop hard 8 – 12 inches. I then had to lift my foot vertically to free it from the crusty ice hole. I literally counted steps between rest breaks. Not every postholing is that bad. I was usually sinking only a few inches. Here are photos of my postholes where I sank to my hip.
Here is stream posthole.
This is the trail.
Here is the Peter Grimm skin cabin.
Here is the area where I saw cross-country skiers.
Here is snow I had to walk
Here is a footbridge and creek.
Here is the trail.
Here is a pine sapling ready to spring up
Here is my tent where deer visited
Here is road covered with snow
Here I had a long snow walk.