(Updates from Golden Girl Granola baker Brian Miglorino’s adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail)
As I write this post, it’s currently Saturday June, 9th. I’ve been out on the trail for about a month and a half. It’s been quite a long time since my last post and a lot has happened. I’ve entered the Sierra Nevada mountains and have completed all 700 miles of the desert section.
The last stretch of desert was full of surprises and adverse conditions. There were multiple long, dry stretches with absolutely no water sources whatsoever. Even for the Mojave desert, this year has been uncharacteristically waterless. There are local volunteers from small desert towns that maintain water caches for hikers every year. They do this out of the kindness of their hearts and ask nothing in return. It’s this kind of selflessness that helps to restore ones faith in humanity. It’s a great reminder that human beings care about one another and we’re all here to work together and help each other out. It’s truly inspiring.
With that being said, the guidebooks warn hikers to never, under any circumstances, rely fully on any of these water caches. There’s unfortunately no way to know if they’re fully stocked or reliable in any way. But with these long, waterless sections, we had absolutely no choice but to push on and hope that the caches are stocked enough to get us to the next water source. Luckily, in my experience they were always well stocked and relying on them (although scary) did end up paying off in the end. I’ll forever be in the debt of those kind strangers, whoever they are.
It’s difficult to put into words how it felt to slowly witness two polar opposite, juxtaposing environments transition from one to the other. The desert slowly just became something totally different and then one day, I was in the High Sierras. The higher you venture the more snow you have to push through.
Sierra Nevada mountains
My tent with a view
Fuel for adventure
900 mile mark
Dawn wake-up call
One of many mountain passes
Trying to get to the snow path
Me summiting a mountain
This last section has taken up most of my physical and mental stamina. Recently, I’ve been dealing with high altitude mountain passes that I had to traverse. To get to the town I’m currently relaxing in, I went over six passes in 6 days. In order to safely cross the passes, hikers have to wake up before sunrise while the snow is still frozen. This allows you to safely make it over the pass before the snow thaws. If you wait until mid-morning or the afternoon, the snow will soften and you’ll have to trudge through slush and powdery snow fields for miles and miles. I unfortunately made the mistake of traversing Pinchot Pass around 1pm. It took me about 5 hours to hike 7 miles through the snow fields. Never again.
As I stated, this section has been incredibly beautiful, but formidable nonetheless. I’ve made my way through countless snowfields, over snowy passes, and even summited the tallest peak in the contiguous United States (Mount Whitney). As tough as it’s been, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to challenge myself physically and mentally in some of the most beautiful terrain America has to offer.
Thanks for following along. Until next time!
-Brian “Peanut Butter” Miglorino