Relive 'PCT from Sonora Pass'

Mammoth Trip, 2021

September 23

Pacific Crest Trail from Sonora Pass

We made it to Mammoth this year after all!

One year ago, AQI in the Eastern Sierra was somewhere in the 600s much of the time, basically unbreathable. That wasn't too hard to see coming, but we kept up hope until the bitter end. But alas it wasn't to be. This year we postponed our departure several times, hoping for a clear window, which eventually came, but it was pretty much the last opportunity.

Last year we had trained vigorously anyway, using whatever opportunity we found to escape to whereever in the region the air quality was less bad, covered our faces with Covid masks if not with N95 smoke masks, and hiked. Much of our stomping ground was closed, though, some of it on fire. We watched the big mushroom cloud over Big Basin from our hike on Milagra Ridge.

This year, while not great, things were much better. At least we weren't in the midsts of the fires, and even got some scramble practice at W-Tree. But we had injuries and aging bodies to deal with, and half expected Mammoth would be up in smoke again, so our training series was perhaps fairly long, but not very intense usually. We enjoyed the training series for its own sake now, but the proper motivation was missing without the certainty that Mammoth would happen. -F.