Saturday, July 10, 2010

Mile 998.3: Dorothy Lake Pass


We trekked miles and miles through alpine meadows to get to Dorothy Lake Pass. I like alpine meadows, they're very gently graded, with great views of snowy difficult mountains that I do not have to struggle through at the moment. Unfortunately, they are also very buggy and muddy.

The trail should not to through alpine meadows at all. We PCT hikers are hitting them at a terrible time, when the soil is saturated, vegetation is trying to grow, and there's often a thin layer of standing water. A few hikers go through, and POOF, it's a mudhole. As hikers hike parallel to ruts, we create more ruts. When trail crews come through, they pile brush, logs, and logs sporadically through all but one rut to discourage us from hiking through the alterna-ruts. Here's an idea: put the logs and rocks close enough together that we can step from object to object, avoiding mud and grassland destruction. Even better: don't put the trail through alpine meadows!

We got to Dorothy Lake around 7, ate dinner until 8:15ish, and decided to go over Seavey Pass and camp on the other side. The top of the pass was half a mile away and only 100 feet higher, it would be no big deal, and it wasn't. That was how we ended up on top of a pass at 8:30 at night, turning on our dim headlamps and looking down at the snowier, north side of the pass.

A little ways down, after losing and refinding the trail again through patches of snow and rock, I spotted some rock slabs that we could easily cowboy camp on. But there was still a faint hint of light in the sky, and I was shot down. That was how we ended up rock hopping across a flooded creek in the dark, losing the trail at a bigger snowfield with no good campable rocks. We wasted a lot of time trying to find the trail again, while I got more and more irritated at the factthat we were not yet sleeping. Finally, I found a campable crevice, declared I wasn't going to spend any more perfectly sleepable time searching for a trail we'd never find in the dark, and went to bed. Microburst and Sweet 16 soon followed suit.

- Typoed on my iPhone

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