Bushcamp (335.6) to 5200ft Camp (351.8)
Left camp this morning on a McMission to McMake it to McDonalds for McBreakfast and McLunch. I consumed 2 breakfasts and a lunch meal while using the bathroom to wash myself and use the power outlet to charge my batteries.
The discussion among hikers turned to the weather. Snow and strong wind. Almost all hikers chose wisely to sit out the storm in the comforts of the nearby Beat Western Hotel. Wild Bill, Tink and myself decided to keep going. Wild Bill chose to travel light and fast with the intention of making it to the next town of Wrightwood more than 20 miles away. Myself and Tink (previously known as MK in this blog) chose to take a little extra food and water and go most of the way and camp overnight before making it to town the next day.
Heading off from the busy interstate highway and up into the mountainous desert I was carrying about 8 litres of water. Much more than normal but it allowed me a good margin of safety if the weather turned very bad. We set off knowing we had to climb to more than 8000 feet. Tink and I both had warm clothes, spare dry clothes, good warm sleeping bags and strong tents. This assured us that we would be safe if the weather was worse than forecast. Continually we were assessing and reassessing the weather. For most of the climb I had no cell phone reception but after nearly 4 hours of hiking and climbing I had reception and checked the weather forecast again. A large warning flashed across the screen.
‘WINTER WEATHER WARNING – snow above 5000ft with accumulation of 1-3 inches. 3-6 inches above 6000ft. Wind gusts to 45mph. Visibility reduced to near zero at times’.
I told Tink the warnings. We assessed they we had the following options. Continue to Wrightwood and arrive after dark, continue to the next campground which was at 8200 ft or find the next flat sheltered site. The clouds were looking ominous and there was the smell of rain in the air. We found a flat spot right on the middle of the PCT trail and decided to set up camp. It was flat and sheltered. Possibly the best site we may be able to find under the circumstances. But being on the middle of the trail was not the most considerate place to camp. We hoped any passing hikers would understand.
Within minutes of setting up the tents there was a light fall of sleet with intermittent gusts of wind. We were nice and warm inside the tents. A couple of other hikers walked past us not stopping for too long as they wanted to make it to the other campsite further away, but higher in altitude. Our camp was at 5200ft.
I have cell phone reception at our 5200ft camp so I am able to look up the weather and post this blog entry. As I write this there is sleet and occasional strong gusts of wind. At times I’m unable to converse with Tink who is camped very close to my tent due to the noise of the wind and sleet. But there are also moments of complete stillness and silence. Tonight might be a rather cold, windy experience but we should be ok. Hopefully by the morning we can pack up the tent and have enough visibility to navigate our way safely to the next town of Wrightwood. If not we have enough food and water to be safe.