30°, freezing fog, 20+ mph wind gusts and sideways snow/sleet/graupel… in other words, a perfect day to put some miles on my seldom used snow gear!
I came very close to staying home and not hiking. It had been a rough week at work, I wasn’t sure how Riley(my dog) would deal with the cold and I was feeling like I had overdone it at the gym with dead lifts and squats. Overall, I was just hoping to get a good workout some nice pictures.
I woke up at 3:15 AM, with my gear already packed and ready to go. All I needed to do was make a couple of sandwiches and put everything in the car. It took me nearly 2 hours! I checked the weather… I watched the news… I drank a cup of coffee, then checked the weather again. Two facts finally convinced me that I needed to go:
- It would probably be my only chance to do any hiking in the snow this year.
- I knew that Shin and others would most likely be on the trail. I was certain that they would take some amazing photos and I would be upset at myself for not going!
I started hiking around 6 AM. There were only a few inches of snow on the ground, but lots of wet, heavy snow was falling. I thought about leaving my snowshoes in the car, but decided to take them. I put on my microspikes and headed up Falls Rd. I didn’t make it very far before I realized that the likelihood of me reaching the summit was very slim – my legs and back were more tired than I had thought and I was moving very slow in the snow.
A couple of miles into the hike, I was being passed by other hikers. I realized that one of these hikers was Shin, whom I had met once before and had talked with on the Whitney Portal Store Forum. We hiked together until we reached the hut.
I reached the hut around 8:15 and stopped to eat some food. At that point, I noticed that Riley was shivering a bit. I also noticed a dog print with some blood in it (turns out it was not his). I decided that it was a good time for us to head back to the car. I said my goodbyes and wished Shin a fun and safe hike to the summit.
The trip back to the car took around 90 mins. I stopped frequently to enjoy the scenery and take pictures. I also took a couple of long breaks as other hikers asked about trail conditions, as well as Riley and his gear.
As stated earlier, I only hiked to the Ski Hut. I didn’t put in the mileage that I was hoping to, but my pack was heavy (32 lbs) and walking in the snow was tiring. Despite my legs and back being so tired, I still manged to get a good workout.
Mankers Flat to Sierra Hut || Distance: 5.65 mi || Duration: 3 hrs 57 mins || Elevation Change: ±2000′ || Difficulty: Strenuous
- Notes: Average BPM: 155 || Pack Weight: 32 lb (Snowshoes & other winter gear)