William had a better quote I remembered today. “You guys are learning what little you need to survive on, and how much you need that little.” True true.
Right after breaking camp we set out, Dyl in front, across hard frozen snowfields. It occurred to me, looking at him up ahead, that this is really just an extreme amount of self induce physical hardship. It also occurred to me that my first revelation, though true, doesn’t occur to me often. That made me happy. Regardless, it was a bad thing to consider so early in the morning. Pinchot Pass, perhaps as a result was grueling. It was seven miles to the top and a 3,500 ft. elevation gain. We hit it the WRONG time of day.
Snow conditions have been terrible today. This morning we struggled across frozen sun cups. It is a strange sort of surface consisting of cups and peaks usually six inches to a foot from top to bottom. There isn’t mush one can do besides stumble across them. The trail wound around Dollar Lake and a big drift buried it on a steep slope under a small cliff. Dyl clambered up about fife feet of near vertical drift to a set of tracks traversing right against the rocks. I began to adjust my pack and quit paying attention to him. Imagine my surprise upon looking up to see Dyl mysteriously hanging upside-down on a twisted leg with the weight of his pack itching to pull him down for a twenty five foot sled ride into three feet of icy lake water. His downhill leg had post-holed up to his groin and his pack flipped him over. He told me that all he could think was, “Please leg don’t break.” We post-holed all day. Mostly because of this Pinchot Pass was hard. Today I discovered the magic of post-holing all the way through to the knee deep icy slush water of an invisible creek. The day just never seemed to end. I was pathetically contemplating death all afternoon. There were no camp spots and the trail was difficult to find. It would have been impossible if not for Dylan’s navigating skill. Having no trail to follow has changed our state of mind. It has forced us to be more aware of the big picture of our surroundings. We take our directional queues by looking out and up rather than down. We are on our own as far as finding our way.
These days are so long that it is actually possible to have a good day and a bad day in succession. We found, much to my personal delight, our flat grassy spot. There was just enough light to walk over to the South Fork of the Kings River, within earshot, and fill up our water bottles. I happened upon a guy named Yogi camped out on the river bank. He said he wasn’t hiking the PCT but was, “Still taking the summer off.” We discussed the prospects of getting across one hell of a raging fast and deep river first thing in the a.m.. Yogi said he had tried to cross it all day. It looks grim. I am, in fact doing a poor job of trying to not think about it until I wake up.