PCT Day 1 – Sonora Pass

Day 1:

July 13, 2014

13.82 miles (1016.93 – 1030.75)

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The day started early. The previous night I held a surprise birthday party for my wife – her big 40! We had many friends and family over to celebrate and the party wrapped up fairly late in the evening. Around midnight I did a final pass through my pack to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

My alarm goes off at 4am and I am moving everything to the car. My pack, my children’s packs, a resupply box for Ebbetts pass. I leave a change of clothes with my wife to bring with her to Tahoe so I can change when I meet them in a week.

I wake up my two youngest kids and put them in the car, say my goodbyes and we are off by 5am. First stop is my parent’s house, and hour away. We make the transfer into their car and we all head off for the 5-6 hour drive to Sonora Pass.

Around noon we make it up highway 108 past Kennedy Meadows and to the pass. I get everything situated, take a picture with my kids and at 12:30 I give everyone a hug before heading off. This leg will only be an overnight trip until I meet them again tomorrow at Ebbetts Pass, but I still had mixed feelings about leaving them.

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As I start off up the trail towards Sonora Peak my mind is fluttering between many emotions. I have spent many a night in the wilderness, many times with family and friends and many times solo. I am comfortable with where I am hiking as I have spent much time exploring the Carson Iceberg Wilderness over the past 25 years. The one aspect that is new…I have never tried to walk a hundred plus miles in an outing. I truly do not know if I can do it, it is unproven to me. I also don’t know what to expect in the way of timing. I know I am a pretty consistent 2 mph hiker with a full pack and that means I need to hike about 10 hours a day to reach Alpine Meadows by the next Sunday. I also realize that my start of 12:30 was later than I wanted, I am only going to get about 8 hours in today before sunset.

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The climb up the peak is a good haul and I feel great. At the top, the view South towards the High Sierra are great. I am looking forward to tackling those in the future, my goal is to complete the section from Kennedy Meadows to Kennedy Meadows as one of my last two sections of trail. The view to the North reveals the headwaters of the East Carson (one of my favorite fishing rivers in the Sierra) and White Mountain/Whitecliff Peak. To the east of that ridge lies Silver King Creek, one of my favorite valleys in the Sierra. I feel like I am home, for sure.

IMG_0380Once On top I meet a few thru-hikers resting at the top. I introduce myself and we talk for a few minutes, then I am off to try and make some miles this afternoon. I make a short stop before dropping into the East Carson for a snack and make a few slight adjustments to my pack. I meet another thru-hiker, Chemo Robbie and have a nice conversation. He is a teacher from Washington State, trying to make his way home.

As I start to cruise down the trail, I pass a couple South-bounders who were finishing off a weekend trek from Ebbetts to Sonora. Their packs looked really heavy and I gave myself a pat on the back for taking the time over the past week to do a few shakedowns and lighten my pack as much as I possibly could. I was packing 2 days of food and full 5 liters of water which meant I had set off with about a 30 pound pack.

IMG_0396                                          IMG_0408I stopped to filter some nice cold water at 1027 where he passed me again. We missed each other down in the canyon, so it was a bit of a surprise for both of use when he walked up.

My goal for the evening was to camp at the 1034 water and campsite. By 8 pm I realized I was not going to reach that goal and knew it was time to start looking for a spot to pitch my bivy. Sure enough, Robbie had the same idea and had just set up his tent in the best campsite. It was starting to get too dark to try and make it any further to find another spot, so I walked up the trail another 500 feet and found a level spot about 50 feet off the trail.

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It was at this time I realized I had forgot something…Insect Repellent! The mosquito’s were voracious and I was a big blood filled beacon that must have attracted every one

of them in a mile radius. I quickly climbed into my bivy and boiled some water for dinner. Another thing I learned that night when sleeping with a net over your head, the net tends to rest on your forehead thus making your forehead a bulls-eye target for those bloodsuckers to hone in on and drink to their hearts content.

Only 14 miles today, I knew I had to start stepping it up in order to keep my schedule intact.

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