Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 51. Forester Pass

15 miles
774 to 788.4, then 1 mile up Bull Frog Trail

Woohoo I made it over Forester Pass today!!!! I can hardly believe it! Forester Pass is the highest point on the PCT and it has a reputation as being a difficult pass. 
The part I thought sounded the most scary was the "chute" which is a traverse right near the top. I'd been building this up in my mind for the past few years, and had been so nervous about it the last few days. 

Since it is a low snow year, I didn't expect much snow. But there sure was a ton of snow, I guess because it is still early in the season! It made for beautiful scenery, but also a tough and exhausting day.
The climb and switchbacks up wasn't as bad as I thought. I guess I'm getting used to the feeling of not being able to breathe. I just keep hiking.
I had been advised to cross Forester in a group, and I was really thrilled to meet up with a great group today. We struck together in a team of six- Arizona, Tent Stakes (recent college grad), Double Tap, and John and Karmin (current students at Columbia). Double Tap was more experienced and lead the way, provided encouragement, pointed out things to watch out for, kept us moving at a faster pace when we needed to, and provided a hand on a few tricky slippery parts. Thank you Double Tap for helping us all out! I was so glad that we stuck together it made it much safer and much more fun.
I'd read a lot about the importance of timing the passes just right for optimal snow conditions. We got to the pass around 10:30 which provided solid footholds on the climb. But the snow got a bit slushy on the descent and made me wish we'd started sooner. The descent was actually the hardest part. We traveled fast to try to beat the softening snow. The traverses of the snow fields were much longer on the way down and much more slippery. I used my microspikes, but no one else did, and only John carried an ice ax. The descent seemed to take forever- there were fields of snow, a few steep traverses, and them lots of places where we were trying not to posthole over melting streams beneath the snow and snow-covered rock fields. The trail was buried beneath the snow in many places, so we had to find our way.

I'm so thrilled to have the first pass under my belt. There are many more to come, and hopefully they won't be so difficult- or at least I won't be so nervous.
The Sierra continues to be beautiful, but today I was so focused on my footsteps and not slipping, that I didn't have much time to enjoy being here until I got to camp.

One thing that I do love about the Sierra is all the water. We walk on snow and pass by ice-covered lakes. Streams are everywhere so we don't have to carry much water. The downside is that my feet and shoes are constantly wet- both from fording streams and from walking on snow. Such a change from just a few days ago when water was scarce and my feet were always sandy and dry. Ah the ever-changing PCT!


  1. Congratulations on crossing Forester Pass! Glad to see things are going so well. Keep your focus on the boarder but don't miss out on other adventures too.Trust your experience and training. You're a third of the way there and doing great!

    1. Thanks so much! Yes, I'm not going to miss out on the other adventures that I find next time. :)

  2. Fancy new long pants! You're doing great. Thanks for sharing your fears as well as your joys. You have many of us cheering you on. Next time you do the thru or the next adventures this time thru?

  3. It's too bad you guys have to go through so early. I loved Forrester on my JMT hike, super easy and fun. You have some gorgeous country ahead. Hope you have time to enjoy.