Friday, October 7, 2016

Day 35- When the snow flies

Day 35- When the snow flies

Oregon PCT Section F
At 2040 (Upper Lake)

Snow swirls in the wind. It's pretty against the reds of the berry bushes. Snow starts accumulating in patches along the trail, tucked in crevices around tree stumps.
White and fluffy.
I hike. Climbing higher. Watching. Thinking. Weighing options.

Maybe the snow will stop. Maybe the sun will come out. Maybe I will keep hiking all the way to Santiam Pass. I want to keep hiking. Please.

But the snow doesn't stop. The flakes get bigger. They swirl everywhere. 

I camped at 5300 feet but there are passes ahead that go up over 6800 feet. The next night will be high and possibly exposed. The forecast is for more precipitation in next few days. How much will fall as snow and how much as rain?

Its all the what if's- what if I can't find the trail because it is obscured by snow? What if I get too cold in my 3-season gear? It's also possible that there will just be a light dusting and it will be beautiful beyond imagine and I will have challenged myself and made it through successfully. 

But how much of a chance is there that I will get myself into a situation where I am in way over my head? If I turn around, am I being overly cautious or making a smart decision that will allow me to live to hike another day? 

Then there is the fact that Pathfinder is back in town, hopefully at the doctors by now getting her bee sting checked out. If I leave the trail at least I know that we will have fun together for the next few days before she flies out. We always have fun. And Slowbro is nearby and we will get to hang out too. And really, having fun and sharing time with friends-- isn't that more important than "completing" this section of trail right now? What would I be proving to myself if I risked it by continuing? What do I need to prove?

When it comes down to it, what to do is clear.

I use my InReach to message Pathfinder.

As I wait for a reply, I sit on the ground eating peanut butter watching the snow. Higher up I can see the trees are covered in white.When I get lower will I forget what it is like to be up here in the quiet? Will I regret this decision? Will it matter that at least I gave it a try and went beyond my comfort zone in being out here by myself? 

I think about what is has been like to leave my comfortable life to find out what the trail had to teach me.


The InReach sounds that I got a new message- yes Renee made it to the doctor. Yes she will get a rental car and pick me up.

I hike out slowly, trying to soak in everything. As I descend the snow turns to sleet and then to rain.
Passing this lake for the fourth time...
 At the road near Ollalie Lake Resort, I start walking down the road. Within a few minutes a couple in a big truck stops and takes pity on me. They give me a ride out the long dirt road to the main paved road where they turn are headed the other way so I get out and wait.  I stand in rain under my umbrella until Pathfinder picks me up. When she opens the door, I know I've made the right decision.


I set out on the PCT with the intention of hiking "until the snow flies" and it sure flew. Earlier than I'd hoped. But I think I learned the lessons the trail needed to teach me for now. I will return.

What happened next? I never got around to posting about it, but Pathfinder tells the story of our days after the PCT dayhiking around Oregon and visiting SlowBro on her blog.


  1. Good call . It's hard to do this . There's risk and then there's madness and sometimes it's hard to separate these amidst the tiredness and doubts. Cold and wet deteriorating conditions with 3 season gear is a worry.

  2. InReach sure paid for itself! Your repeat miles remind me if my Stehekin threepeat.

  3. Excellent decision. The trail will be ready and waiting for you next year. You are always welcome down south and visit us in the land of sun and surf.

    Dee & Paul
    OneSpeed & Just Paul

  4. Of course you will. Yes, I my email is the same. Say hello to Pathfinder for me.

    1. Aww thanks! Will do- glad to hear from you and hope all is well with you. :)

    2. hit me back if want: opheliag@gmail.....