PCT Day 49: Sierra Day 7: Pinchot and Mather Pass

Miles Hiked: 24

PCT Mileage: 827.3

Today I woke up at dawn in the green grass we camped in last night. I quickly packed up all my things and was loud enough to wake Fry up. He started hiking shortly after me. The day started with a 2k climb up to the top of Pinchot pass. This continued from the 2k of vert we did last night to camp. I’m glad we camped in the middle of the climb and were able to split it up into two days instead of climbing 4k all at once. I think it made the pass easier for us. About two miles in, I stopped to shed my layers because I was getting hot in my puffy jacket. Shortly after a trail family of about six people all got on the trail right in front of me. I ended up passing them all individually on the way up the pass. It was pretty cruisey and it felt good to be the fast person for once. That wasn’t always the case. There were a few snow fields to hike on top of on the way up but they were really easy to cross. I was the first one to the top of the pass and I got to enjoy it alone for a few minutes before Fry who also passed everyone else joined me. At the top of Pinchot I met Gnome who is out for his triple crown as well. Fry and I were the first people to start heading down the pass. There were more snow fields but they were also fast and easy.

The trail dropped a couple thousand feet down into a green valley. I got in front of Fry for a while and stopped to take a long break at a creek at the bottom of the valley. During my break I ate food and tried to hide from the mosquitos by sitting in the sun. When Fry caught up after his own break we both hiked together for a little bit. The streams were gushing but we always found a way to rock hop across and keep our feet dry for the most part. At one river crossing we ran into a group of five other hikers all maneuvering their way across a log that seemed to be the only way across while keeping your feet dry. Fry and I had to wait on a little island in the middle of the creek where we got attacked by the worst swarm of mosquitoes I’ve ever experienced. I was running around in circles while waiting for what felt like an eternity for everyone to cross. I considered just walking across the creek and getting my feet soaking wet it was that bad. After this we passed all the hikers and continued uphill to Mather Pass.

I was nervous for Mather because I heard so much about it being scary. I could see it from far away in the distance. Usually it’s hard for me to spot where the passes are but this one really stuck out to me. I fell behind Fry and enjoyed some alone time while in awe of the snowy mountains completely surrounding me. I wondered if there was any way out of here without climbing up and over a mountain pass. Fry and I both collected water and stopped for a moment about 1.5 miles from the top of the pass. The pass was way easier than I thought it would be. The trail bench was really wide so I never felt like I was on the verge of falling down the mountain. There were also only two snow patches that were not very big. Soon enough we were at the top of the pass looking down into the next valley. Shy, Bugs and Carrots we’re hanging out at the top of the pass. Fry and I both cooked some food up here. The way down from Mather Pass was quite a bit difficult compared to the way up. I took my time on the loose rocks and picking through the snow fields. It wasn’t bad because I took my time and had Fry who helped spot out the right ways to go. At one point I got a little frustrated because I went a bad way and cliffed myself out. I was able to turn around and follow Fry a much easier way. I was happy when I made it back to the trail and could just start hiking easily again without thinking about where to go.

The trail dropped down into a green valley with lots of lakes and waterfalls everywhere. It was absolutely gorgeous! The lakes were surrounded by green grass on one side and snowy mountains on the other. We dropped elevation for the rest of the day. It was rough on my knees. At one of the lakes we took a break next to Carrots, Bugs, and Fry again. I left the break spot first because I really wanted to get to camp early tonight. After the lakes, the trail went down some exposed switch backs and it was getting very hot. I watched a guy who was going uphill in front of me throw up and fall over stiff as a board. I immediately knew something was wrong. When I reached him he just kept saying he couldn’t move his legs and showed me his hand all cramped up. I knew he was incredibly dehydrated at the sight. I let him know I was going to help him. I put down my pack and started asking him how much water he had to drink today and if he had any electrolytes. He said he hardly had any. He only has a dip left in his water bottles and both of mine were completely dry. I grabbed both of our water containers and ran down the mountain to a gushing stream I could hear below to collect some for him. I ran back up. Luckily it wasn’t too far. I had to help him drink the water since his hands were so cramped up he couldn’t hold anything. I gave him all the electrolytes that I had. I could see his leg muscles visibly in distress as well. This was really bad. Eventually Fry showed up and started helping me treat him. We dumped water all over his body to cool him down. Eventually more hikes showed up and it turned into a giant fiasco. Luckily one of them has an umbrella to help shade the poor young man. His name was Brian. He just kept saying he couldn’t move. He asked us to help him and his knees but his legs were stiff as a board. When I saw this it really freaked me out. I thought we might have to call search and rescue. Luckily one of the hikes who showed up was a nurse and was able to take over. Shy was carrying magnesium pills and someone else had potassium. Between the electrolytes and all the water, Brian was able to move again about an hour and a half later. So much for getting to camp early. I’m so glad he was okay though! We had about 20 hikers all backed up on the mountain because Brian was laying in the middle of the trail the whole time and there wasn’t anywhere for anyone to go. We tried to let people by but most wanted to stay with their friends who were helping the situation. When Brian could walk again we all hiked down the mountain with him about 0.3 mile and made sure he got to set up camp okay and one of his hiking buddies made it back to check on him. If I were him I’d take a zero on the trail right there and maybe end my trip the next day. He must of felt awful.

It was 6:30 by the time this whole fiasco was over. Fry and I still had eight more miles to hike to finish our day so we bombed down the mountain as fast as we could together. I would have made it to camp by 6:30 tonight but instead it turned out that I set up camp a mile short at 8pm. Luckily we still had some daylight left and I found an awesome cowboy camp spot on top of the rock. We had a cool view of the river canyon we were in. Surrounded by mountains on all sides. I cooked some spaghetti for dinner. It was delicious!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Published by Deserrae Potts

Thru Hiker Blogger

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