Leaving Sage Flats going up the Olanche Pass trail reinforced the conclusion I came to yesterday, no more off PCT trails to trailheads that don’t have a packer station. There is a reason Sage Flats doesn’t have packer, no self respecting horse person would willingly subject their horses to a trail like this on a regular basis. The trail climbs 3500 feet in the first four miles up what can only be described as a truly awful trail, all boulder hopping and sharp rock tender footing.
A mile up it started to mist, I could feel my face and the back of my hands getting wet, but the wind blew the rocks dry before the moisture could build up. Two miles up the rocks were getting wet, still a fine mist though the stiff wind made taking it head on was uncomfortable. When we reached the PCT we had to climb to over 10500 feet, up a treeless ridge, exposed to stronger winds as we climbed the temperature dropped, the mist became a driving snow, the snow turned to ice crystals that made your face feel like it was being sandblasted. BG did not like it one little bit. Ten miles in we crested the hill and dropped down into some timber where we got a little protection from the wind, a few more miles and the clouds began to break up and we could see a little sunshine, though it was weak and did little to raise the temperature. By then my feet were wet, my gloves inadequate so I did a lot of walking to help stay thawed.
After the sky cleared I could see for some distance, getting just a hint of what was to come, but for the time being despite the altitude the grandeur of the Sierras was being elusive. BG and I were glad to see Janis and the rig at the Horseshoe Meadows Horse camp, a blanket, stall, mash and hay for BG, a furnace and dinner for me.
Trip data: mileposts; 0720-0745, miles ridden; 32.3, trail time; 9:47, average speed; 3.3, minimum elevation; 5842, maximum elevation; 10662, total ascent; 8547, total descent; 4346
Total miles: PCT; 2219, Ridden; 2332