I began my journey toward Crabtree Meadows when a fellow hiker warned me of an impending snowstorm via his Garmin device, set to hit in two days. Concerned, my trail family and I convened, deciding to forgo summiting Mt. Whitney to avoid the storm. Instead, we planned to hike to Kearsarge Pass in the morning before the storm struck. 

The next morning, I set out early as usual, but encountered altitude issues in my legs. Though my trail family usually caught up with me each day, this time they didn’t. Doubts crept in as I pondered their whereabouts. With no communication and a storm approaching, I faced Forester Pass alone, a daunting task given its steep, icy terrain. 

It was snowing lightly and I was putting my trust in others’ footprints. I navigated the pass, grappling with fear and uncertainty. Losing the trail, postholing, ugly crying, and prayer became my companions until, by some miracle, I descended safely, albeit emotionally shaken. 

That night, freezing temperatures compounded my misery as my air mattress failed me. It was 11 degrees, and I found myself on the ground for the night. With frozen water, frozen food and no sleep, I faced another day of perilous hiking toward Kearsarge Pass. Despite a mishap crossing a creek where I slipped on a log and hit my head, then fell in the creek, and an early heavy snowfall causing whiteout conditions, I pressed on, determined to reach safety. 

Finally, a trail angel rescued me at the bottom of Kearsarge Pass, offering kindness amid the chaos. After experiencing PTSD symptoms following my journey, I decided to take a four-day break in Bishop to recuperate. Initially, I swore never to venture back into the Sierra, especially alone, and considered ending my PCT journey. However, after four days recovering in Bishop, I found the courage to confront my fears. With my trail family by my side and a newfound sense of determination, I tackled Kearsarge Pass once more and headed back into the Sierra, carrying a pack weighing nearly 50 pounds. 

Despite the challenges, I emerged stronger, having braved the Sierra alone during a snowstorm. - PCT May 20, 2021

Comments & Upvotes