Hit by the Snowcal Blues

I am done. I really thought that the Sierra Nevada was hard, but Norcal proves me wrong.

We don’t have the NorCal Blues. Since finishing the Sierra section, the snowless sections of NorCal are beautiful and feel like a whole new world, but the snow just won’t stop.

Aloha Lake. The snow won’t let us go.

We would love to do more daily miles and we also have to do, to reach Canada on time, but on the last 100 miles, we simply couldn’t.

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I am already sick of the snow since Sonora Pass. Somewhere back then deep inside of me, my hate against snow began to grow.

I have the Snowcal Blues

Since Tahoe, it got even worse because the snow plays with us. It is an on/off story. You hike a few miles on a dry trail and feel like you’re flying, but only until you come around a corner and stand in front of a six m high pile that you have to climb again.

A mix of dry and snow all the way since South Lake Tahoe

Since the nature of the trail changed since the Sierra, we are now facing even more steep tree-well traverses on high mountains. And of course, the trail is always buried.

It gets even absurder.

On the way to Truckee, the Trail was buried, while EVERY other side trail was snow free.

But wait there is more

You can’t even guess on the map where there is snow free trail. There might be a West faced ridge line that is completely covered in snow, while the north-faced dark valley behind it is almost snow free.

All these broken hopes and plans again and again, in combination with 13-hour hiking days in high temperatures, make us come to our mental limits.

The bugs are here!!

I am exploding really fast. Especially when that stupid bear canister on my back tries to kill me.

I was catapulted onto the ground three or four times, just because I slipped and the high weight immediately forced me in that direction.

NorCal, you are so beautiful

It is sad to feel this way when you are walking through the most beautiful landscape. The dry stretches are extremely beautiful. Greens and flowers (and bugs) everywhere. Little creeks mumbling down the hill, the crossings are more like a relaxing foot bath to cool down our hot bodies.

A rare sight: Hikers and Skiers next to each other

But there are better days ahead. Today we sent all our snow gear, except for the spikes. We also sent the bear cans. Our packs are finally back to the weight they had at the border of Canada.

It is also nice to not sit shaking in the sleeping bag at 4:00 a.m. after bringing the bear cans to the tent, but not without putting on soaking wet socks before. The mornings now are warm, dry, and toasty.

Sorry to rant that much, but it is not all fun and games out there, and I would also like to share that. Especially when you have nothing else to think about 😀

A hero we don’t deserve but need right now

We were also lucky, that “Mamacita” (or should we call her “Whiskey legs” from now on?) forgot her bag of tent stakes at Carson Pass and trail angel Laurence picked them up. He met us at Donner Pass, but not without offering us drinks and snacks, we could also recharge our power banks. The still steady navigating through the snow fields drains the phone batteries fast.

Better days ahead: warmth and more and more dry trail

He also drove the pile of stank and dust that we are to Truckee so we could resupply and get the gear we needed.

A big thanks goes out to Laurence, as he recharged our mental and physical batteries.

Finally 20 miles again

With recharged bodies and minds, we started on the 4th of July, intending to make 20 miles toward Sierra City. And it worked! Nasty Cheese and I have a new break strategy. Every hour, we sit down for ten minutes and between that, we fly down the trail.

This is not normal, right?!

While the Sierra afforded long breaks for breakfast and lunch, and often also a nap, we now just take two 30 mins breaks for this. It took us only eight hours of hiking and two hours of breaks to do the 20 miles. And that on still more than 50% snow-covered trail. The snow conditions were quite easy, as we had flat surfaces and no steep traverses or sun cups. Also, even though our packs are full of food and water, they feel like nothing, compared to the last 400 miles. If we had to, we could have even pushed five miles more that day, but we’ll have a certain date to reach Sierra City, so flight mode will be put on after Sierra City.

But still so beautiful

As I am writing this, I lay in our tent on a ridgeline while the sun goes up and a 1,000 bloodthirsty Mozzies swarm outside, longing to get a taste of us.

I am looking forward to the end of this extremely emotional rollercoaster. I think the secret is more rest, and finally leaving California, even though I still can’t get enough of all these flowers. Seriously: The snow has its good side, the super bloom is also here and it is a bomb. We also swam in the Jackson Meadows Reservoir and this hike finally felt like a holiday again.

Snow free soon?

As we slowly approach Sierra City, rumors are (again) that there are just two more days of patchy snow ahead and we hope it is true this time. Wish us luck!

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Comments 5

  • Laurence : Jul 6th

    I think the best luck was that I carry the yellow charge pack in the SUV all the time. It took 6 hours to recharge it on the house outlet, it was completely empty after the encounter with the power mosquitos of Donner Pass, ha ha.
    Anyway, it was so gratifying for me to see the mood and energy of all you change to better after Truckee when we returned to the trailhead for you to go back on trail.

    • Björn "Refill" Dziambor : Jul 7th

      Haha! Power Mosquitos! Whiskey-legs will love it! Thanks again, you had a great impact on our morale

  • Tom : Jul 7th

    C’mon Bjorn , I really think you’ll miss all that slushy snow. It’s made for some great pics , but yes I can understand why you’ve had enough of the white stuff.

    • Björn "Refill" Dziambor : Jul 15th

      Haha! That usually takes about two weeks and til now, I am pretty fine with Norcals sun! 😀


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