How Would Snoop Dog Hike?
Naturally we got a late start out of Truckee. We always seem to get a late start out of any town. I had purchased a new water bladder from the local outfitter, but it had a leak in it. We had to wait for the store to open so I could return it before Ubering to the trail head.
We knew there would be snow when we got back on the trail, but until we got out there we did not realize how much snow. There was no trail. Not even footprints of those ahead of us. Kilo was our navigator. We would walk about 100 feet , he would check the Guthook app, make a slight adjustment right or left, walk another 100 feet and repeat.
We stopped at the Peter Grubb Hut for lunch. The hut was buried in snow up to the roof. Just two weeks prior to our arrival, hikers had to crawl through a snow tunnel to get in the front door. The tunnel was now gone and someone had shoveled a walkway to the door. The hut is two stories with the bottom floor as a communal, eating area. There were picnic tables, a wood stove, a gas grill and even a guitar. Upstairs were the sleeping quarters. We ate some lunch and headed back out into the snow with grand plans to make more mileage before camp. We made it 0.7 miles further falling about five times each because of the slushy sun cups before we decided to turn around and head back to the hut for the night. At this pace on soft snow we definitely were not going to find a dry tent site for the night, so we took advantage of the shelter while we had it. Once back at the hut, we filtered water, cooked our dinner and started getting ready for bed. We thought we had the hut to ourselves for the night, until about 8pm when Saunter sauntered in. This was his third PCT thru-Hike and he was going Southbound (SoBo) through this section as he too decided to skip the high Sierra. He had just hiked 23 miles through snow to get to the hut and was pretty psyched about it. During Saunter’s first thru-Hike he woke up one morning and could not move his knee without pain. He spent the day trying to figure out how best to walk on the knee inflicting the least amount of pain on himself. The result was a very awkward gait. He could see up the trail that he was about to pass two lovely young ladies and so he needed to figure out how to walk past them without looking completely handicapped. He thought to himself, “How would Snoop Dog Hike? Like a pimp with swagger.” And that is how he (thought) he walked past the two women. He later got to know them and they gave him his trail name, Saunter, because of his saunter past them.
We had a change of strategy the next morning. We set our alarm for 4am and we were out of the hut by 5am. We needed to get in miles while the snow was hard and we could walk on top of it without post holing, which meant falling. We were greeted by a beautiful sunrise and definitely had an easier time walking than the previous afternoon. Navigating was still slow with no path in the snow, but we had an amazing campsite that evening. It was our first time camping on snow, at the top of a mountain over looking Fordyce Lake and a frozen Meadow Lake on one side and the Sierra Buttes on the other side of the mountain. Sierra City, at the base of the Buttes, was our next destination. We went to bed that night without seeing another soul.
In the morning we slept in a bit which meant we were back to hiking on slushy snow again. We spent the morning hiking in snow (which is melting quickly) and then finally walked out of the snow in the early afternoon. We felt so light and free on our feet without micro spikes and postholing. We were flying. We set up camp for the night, got bit by mosquitos (a sure sign the Great Melt of 2019 is here) cooking dinner, and called it a night since we were held captive in our tent by the bugs. Again, we did not see any other hikers that day. We are now ahead of the large bubble of hikers attempting the Sierras.
It was a ten mile hike into Sierra City in the morning…all down hill with minimal snow so again we were flying. We crossed multiple raging rivers from all the snow melt. The terrain was so lush and green. We hit the road to Sierra City, population 200, and had a mile walk into town. I love that the PCT is introducing us to quaint mountain towns like Sierra City that otherwise we would have never known about. In Sierra City there is one library, one Country Store, one bakery, one fire house, a couple hotels and two restaurants (we ate at both). We stayed the night, showered, hand washed our clothes, resupplied at the Country Store and are headed back to the trail to climb the Buttes and camp up there for the evening.