I hiked Mt. Baden Powell, on the Pacific Crest Trail, today. I drove from Wrightwood to the trail-head off of Hwy 2, which is closed just beyond the parking lot. From there it is four pretty tough miles up a series of switchbacks to the summit. I didn't make it as far as the summit, this time. the trail is still blocked by snow above 9,000 feet.
I began encountering drifts in the shade about half-way up. Above 8,000 ft I had to cross some pretty treacherous icy drifts. After the 8,800 ft marker the trail was as much snow and ice as dirt. I slipped and fell several times. Clumsy me. Just beyond the 9,060 ft marker the trail disappeared completely under a mounded drift. No previous hiker had left footprints attempting to cross the drift. A confused cow-heard of prints went directly UP the face at that point. I tried it, got about thirty feet with no sign of a trail ANYWHERE. Slipped and SLID -wheee!- several times, ending up with a soggy, muddy bottom.
At that point the rational, fifty-four-year-old side of my brain reminded me that I was thus far ALONE at 9,000+ feet. I started back down.
Good trip down. I met six hikers coming up after me. Four of them--two men, two women--were serious, seasoned, officially geared-up PCT hikers. They were daunted but undeterred by my gloomy trail report. The other two hikers were girls in their twenties. Now, picture this. I and the others are kitted up with backpacks, hand-held GPSs, water, hiking poles, sweaters, hats and coats. These two are traipsing up in shorts and t-tops, carrying bottles of water and bags of chips in their hands.
Ahh, to be twenty again.