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Archive for July 4th, 2006

Destination: Sonora Pass
Starting Location: Cascade Creek
Today’s Miles: 18.20
Trip Miles: 1019.40
Cascade Creek (999.9, 8975) to Sonora Pass (1018.3, 9620) ascent (3930) descent (3196)

Happy Birthday America – and if you do not believe time flies & life is short consider that our bicentennial was 30 years ago. More importantly Happy Birthday Mom. You have been in my thoughts every day & every day has been full of smiles.
The dirty dozen dispersed as quickly as it formed. Mike & Herman headed to Bridgeport while Sunny, Tadpole, Sugar Daddy, Pang, Swiss Miss, 3 Gallon & Rolling Thunder hitched to Kennedy Meadows North for a shot at dinner. Iniki, M&M & I stayed here at Sonora. I know this road well as I have ridden my motorcycle over it many times, and one thing is for sure – getting a ride back up after dark could be tough. Given that it is now 8:00 & not one car has gone by for over an hour could mean those who planned to come back tonight will not make it. I really enjoyed my evening visiting with Iniki & M&M. In the larger group it was difficult to have a conversation & when the language barrier is factored in it was quite difficult. Tonight with just 3 of us we were able to have a conversation about living simply and the value of friendships. We spoke in English & with German & Spanish accents it takes concentration and effort to have a conversation. And this is a good thing as it forces me to listen. Often it is so easy to hear the words but not really hear anything. This conversation was not like that.
Today I completed a life long dream’ to hike across the entire Sierra Nevada mountain range. What an opportunity and what an experience. The transition between the glaciated granitic valleys to the volcanic soils was immediate and dramatic. And the ridge walk into Sonora Pass was incredible with 360 degrees panoramic views and an impression of being on top of the world.
Just before Sonora Pass the guide book describes “lethal” snow. It was a bit too steep to walk across safely so we dropped to our bums & slid out of harms way.
The guide book is an excellent book that describes the route but the author took way too much liberty by adding all kinds of subjective opinions & observations that distract from you having your own experience. It is a big joke among hikers – oh what peril awaits us today per the guide book. Quotes like mosquito haunted, seemingly endless switchbacks, child’s play compared to previous sections are some of our recent favorites. You know nearly anything can be lethal but I doubt very seriously if anyone has actually died on that section of the PCT – so please just describe the route.
Near Sonora Pass we began to see bamboo stakes near the trail & realized these were snowmobile boundary signs. Now this is one of the dumbest things I have seen the USFA Forest Service do. First they open up a proposed Wilderness area to snowmobiles & then when they realize the area contains the PCT and it is restricted to hiking & equestrians they decide to make the PCT the boundary for the use area. So you are riding your snowmobile in a proposed Wilderness are & when you come to the PCT you are supposed to turn around. Oh yea the trail is under snow. So they put up a few of these poles (only one was still standing) to demark the area. Everyone loses with ridiculous compromises such as this one. I support snowmobile use on public lands, but in proposed Wilderness atop a National Scenic Trail – it’s ridiculous. And by the way, how about cleaning up the garbage your signage attempt produced.
Sugar Daddy, Pang & I have taken to removing as many down trees from the trail as possible. I am not sure who started it but at first we would simply flick a branch off the trail with our hiking pole. Now we are moving some pretty big trees and if you are in front you are supposed to hurry & clear the trail so everyone else does not have to go around or go over, or go through. If they are really big we team up. 3 guys can move a pretty big tree. The other hikers look at us like we are nuts but we have the time, it is fun & we are helping a bit. Wonder if I can claim a charitable deduction?
Bridges are a wonderful thing and anticipating them relieves all kinds of anxiety. Each time we knew we had a bridge coming up I would joke that we were swimming because the bridge was out. So I started cracking up when Rolling Thunder & Sunny were heading south on the PCT and told me the bridge was out. Naturally I did not believe them & kept walking only to find the foot bridge over Cascade Creek washed down river. After the very wet crossing late in the day I was told no more jokes that come true.

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