Learning to be Flexible in a High Snow Year

A High Snow Year?

If you live on the west coast or have seen any weather-related news lately, you may have noticed that snow levels are unusually high this year.

California currently has the most snow in the country with records surpassing those of 1982-1932! Currently, 13 counties in California are in a state of emergency due to winter storms and snow water content is 232% of average… and there is only more coming.

What This Means For The PCT

So what does this mean for the PCT? It is clear that 2023 will be a year unlike any other for this year’s hikers.

A record snow year means high river crossings, snowy passes, avalanches, risk of hypothermia, hundreds of miles of post-holing, icy slopes, potential flooding and more.

As intense as that all sounds, it is a reality that we as hikers must consider and decide what we are willing to expose ourselves to. 2023 hikers should be prepared to access and mitigate risk by having the gear and skills for backcountry snow travel.

It is March and during a typical year many hikers would be starting their long journeys north this month. However, due to current conditions in Southern California many professionals have agreed that it is not safe to be on trail right now. Over 200 miles of the PCT is closed right now and most of the 2650 mile trail is covered in heavy snow.

What This Means for My Hike

Part of hiking the PCT is learning to be flexible. More than likely, a PCT thru hike will not be a linear journey, and I believe that will be especially relevant this year.

I was originally set to begin my hike this month. After weeks of watching increased snowfall, reading about the dangers of a high snow year, and listening to the advice of local officials, search and rescue groups and experienced hikers, I have decided to postpone my hike until May.

The PCT is will undoubtedly be an incredible and challenging journey. A 2650 mile hike is sure to test your limits, build resilience, and be full of trials and triumphs alike.

I love adventure and challenge but have decided that the added risk of unprecedented snow in Southern California is just not a risk I am willing to accept. I am happy with my decision to start the trail later and am grateful for the ways that this trail is already teaching me to be flexible and unbound to a certain plan.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?