“So, what are you doing for the Sierras?”
Rooster: It’s the #1 topic of conversation among us hikers right now. For those that don’t know, the Sierra Nevada range received a record amount of snow this year. This presents a ton of challenges.
The gateway to the Sierras is Kennedy Meadows at mile 702, and extends roughly to Sierra City at mile 1195. On a “normal” year, you can start north from KM in the first week of June, assured that the trail will be mostly snow free, and that river/creek crossings will be reasonably safe to cross. This year, that timeframe has been pushed back by 4-6 weeks. There’s really only three things you can do:
Push: Hike in anyway. There will be long stretches where you’ll be post holing (trudging through wet snow up to your hips). You’ll want crampons for traction and an ice axe to self arrest on the icy slopes. You’ll need twice as much food, because you’ll be hiking at half speed through this mess. And the river crossings will be raging. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
Flip-flop: Skip the Sierras for now, do a snow free section (typically NorCal), come back and do the Sierras after they’ve melted out, then jump back up to Oregon and finish out. Logistical pain in the butt, as it involves at least 3 bus rides. Oh, and this year, even NorCal still has a bunch of snow. So does Oregon. And Washington.
Wait: Just sit and wait it out at KM or elsewhere. The drawback here is that the more time you wait, the less time you have to finish before the snow starts flying in Washington State (typically October). Plus you’re burning through money while you twiddle your thumbs.
We’ve decided to wait, with a twist. We got jobs at a whitewater rafting place in the mountain town of Kernville. We’ll be doing some maintenance, office work, landscaping, bike maintenance, and maybe even a little guiding. Although this puts our goal of finishing the whole thing in jeopardy, this assures us that we’ll experience the Sierras with less fear of sliding off a mountain or drowning, lol. Plus it will be a cool experience to work here.