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Nancyann
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 9:18 am 
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Tuesday I dropped off a thru hiker with a broken foot at the Greyhound Station in Leavenworth. After I told him about the snow forecast, he was glad to be ending his trip, but was quite worried about a fairly large group of hikers that had already started north up the PCT from Stevens Pass. He had not heard about the weather change, and didn’t think anyone else had either. He said no one was carrying snow gear because the word was that the weather would be ok until October. Most thru hikers are using the Guthook App for directions and information, which apparently doesn’t provide relevant weather forecasts.
After finishing a dayhike, I picked up three more thru hikers at the Pass about 9pm who were trying to get a ride to Hiker Haven in Baring. They were shocked when I warned them about the weather change. They knew nothing of it and like the hiker I picked up in the morning, were really worried about their friends who had already started north. One in the group had only a single wall summer tent, and another didn’t even have gloves! I told them the story about Katarina and they began to consider other options than continuing on the PCT. I had a nice visit with Jerry Dinsmore when I dropped them off and I think between the two of us we convinced them to wait until the weather improves. However, there are still a lot of thru hikers out there trying to finish their trip, so if anyone runs across them in the next day or two, ask them if they are aware of the changing weather!
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RandyHiker
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 9:41 am 
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I saw several thru hikers near Chinook pass yesterday.  I mentioned that snow was in the forecast for Friday.    I also noticed a  Kris Fowler "Sherpa"  missing person flyer posted next to the William O Douglas wilderness boundary. 

If this is a one of storm, NBFD,  but if is the 1st of many, I think it will hard for any hikers south of Rainey Pass to safely finish this season.
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 10:36 am 
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Where are they getting their planning information? Long-range forecasts in the Cascades can’t ever be relied on 100% , but in late September; not at all (not even in the lowlands. At one point, we were supposed to have another hot dry summer).

There may be a particular source they’re using that isn’t giving good advice.  If that can be identified, perhaps a discussion about weather in the Cascades in fall can be corrected for next year’s thru hikers.

That the thru hikers are “not from around here” might be an excuse, esp. if they’re from other countries or a place like Arizona -  if so, there may be a planning source that isn’t strong on its discussion about thru hikers  arriving in the Cascades a few weeks later than as is typical.

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neek
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 10:40 am 
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It would be cool to have coverage data in the apps thru-hikers are using these days (i.e. where along the trail you can pick up a cell signal).  Someone would just have to hike the trail while running an app that measures signal strength and reports location back to a server periodically if reachable.  For each of the main carriers.  They'd need to lug along enough kWh to keep the phone out of airplane mode while moving, but that's no big deal.  I bet a day doesn't go by when you don't have a signal somewhere on the PCT, but most people have their radios off and don't realize they just missed an opportunity to check the weather (not to mention fb feeds etc).  I know - solve over-dependence on technology with more over-dependence on technology - horrible, but if people are going to depend on apps that are giving them bad info, might as well at least think about ways to improve that.

Apparently a lot of folks bounced up to Oregon to bypass heavy snow in northern CA this year.  Those who didn't, or chose to wait, are maybe regretting it.  (Or maybe it wasn't a choice given how the permit system now works.)  Ran into a handful of stragglers near Snoqualmie a few days ago, hope they fare well.  Of course, if you've been on the trail this long, you probably kinda know what you're doing.
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 10:59 am 
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neek wrote:
Of course, if you've been on the trail this long, you probably kinda know what you're doing.

Apparently not, if some are caught off guard weather-wise at Stevens and northward.  doh.gif

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Windstorm
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 11:10 am 
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Kim Brown wrote:
neek wrote:
Of course, if you've been on the trail this long, you probably kinda know what you're doing.

Apparently not, if some are caught off guard weather-wise at Stevens and northward.  doh.gif

Yeah, the problem is that the northern Cascades in October (and maybe a little early this year) are often completely different from what the thru-hikers have been doing for the past several months. Yes, they are good at what they have been doing, but that generally doesn't include hiking into winter storms.
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Tom
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 11:11 am 
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Here's the NOAA forecast for Washington Pass:


Snow doesn't look too bad but I'd be more worried about hypothermia with it not getting above freezing for the next week.
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Nancyann
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 11:17 am 
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Neek, your comment that if you have been on the trail this long, you kinda know what you are doing is true in most respects. I was surprised, however, that the three thru hikers I dropped off at Hiker Haven didn’t feel like they would be prepared to deal with the Glacier Peak area snow. After all, they were part of the group who did make it through the heavy snow in the Sierras this spring. What they said was that the Sierra snow was dry powder, not that hard to travel through, and there was always an established bootpath to follow when they went through in late May. Plus the days were getting longer and it was often warm and sunny. They asked me a lot of questions about our heavy, wet snow common in the Cascades. They were savvy enough to know that the shortened days and dropping temps we are experiencing plus heavy snow did not make for a pretty picture, so changed their plans to proceed any further this week.
Kim, we also had a long conversation about where they are getting their info for planning. They were frustrated that the Guthook app they rely on hadn’t been giving reliable information on a number of issues, including weather updates. They feel that a lot of info dispensed by other thru hikers on the Guthook fb page is incorrect or just heresay. Additionally, they all agreed that sometimes with the thru hikers big egos are getting in the way of common sense.
It would be interesting to find out how many thru hikers coming up from Mexico are from the Pacific NW. I have chatted with or given rides to about 50 this year, and none were local. I know there is an Israeli couple out there one of my friends talked to at Sheep Lake, and many from the East Coast, Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, Texas, another bunch of Germans, and several from the UK. Most have never hiked in the Pacific NW and do not understand its weather challenges.
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 11:30 am 
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Windstorm wrote:
Yeah, the problem is that the northern Cascades in October (and maybe a little early this year) are often completely different from what the thru-hikers have been doing for the past several months.

I wouldn't consider the weather a problem. The problem is a gap in planning. Mountain weather, esp. the Cascades, has been like this for through hikers for many, many years. Decades, even. Several decades.

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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Nancyann
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 11:46 am 
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Well said, Kim. There is a common misconception in the thru hiking community that they will be ok just using summer gear until October 1, according to the guys I picked up Tuesday night. As we all know, that is truly bs. In fact, many years ago when I did the Stevens to Rainy Pass section the first week of September, we were slammed with one storm after another, leaving half a foot of snow on the PCT. And no, we weren’t prepared either...
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RandyHiker
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 12:02 pm 
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Kim Brown wrote:
Windstorm wrote:
Yeah, the problem is that the northern Cascades in October (and maybe a little early this year) are often completely different from what the thru-hikers have been doing for the past several months.

I wouldn't consider the weather a problem. The problem is a gap in planning. Mountain weather, esp. the Cascades, has been like this for through hikers for many, many years. Decades, even. Several decades.

I did the Stevens -- Snoqualmie section in early September a couple decades ago,  I chatted with some SB "Thru" hiker couple that had done something clever -- they had started at the Mexican border about a month later than typical for that era and avoid major snow travel in the Sierras.
They then jumped on a bus around Kalamath Falls up to Manning park to then head south.   This way during October, they were in Oregon,  not in the North Cascades.   They were in their late '60s doing the hike as part of "retirement.

Unfortunately crossing the border SB gets a lot more surveillance in a post 9/11 world and can result in non-trivial fine ($5000) and even jail time.
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 12:04 pm 
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For what it is worth you can get updated spot weather reports on your inReach for $0.10 or so. I have used this feature on thru hikes fairly often.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Kim Brown
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 12:05 pm 
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Well, I don’t mean to post a “gotcha” statement; just wondering if there’s a bad source out there, or if it’s simply folks expressing their imperfect human-ness in the only way they can right now; a bit of a  mistake on the PCT.

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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CC
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 12:09 pm 
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Nancyann wrote:
Neek, your comment that if you have been on the trail this long, you kinda know what you are doing is true in most respects. I was surprised, however, that the three thru hikers I dropped off at Hiker Haven didn’t feel like they would be prepared to deal with the Glacier Peak area snow. After all, they were part of the group who did make it through the heavy snow in the Sierras this spring. What they said was that the Sierra snow was dry powder, not that hard to travel through, and there was always an established bootpath to follow when they went through in late May. Plus the days were getting longer and it was often warm and sunny. They asked me a lot of questions about our heavy, wet snow common in the Cascades. They were savvy enough to know that the shortened days and dropping temps we are experiencing plus heavy snow did not make for a pretty picture, so changed their plans to proceed any further this week.
Kim, we also had a long conversation about where they are getting their info for planning. They were frustrated that the Guthook app they rely on hadn’t been giving reliable information on a number of issues, including weather updates. They feel that a lot of info dispensed by other thru hikers on the Guthook fb page is incorrect or just heresay. Additionally, they all agreed that sometimes with the thru hikers big egos are getting in the way of common sense.
It would be interesting to find out how many thru hikers coming up from Mexico are from the Pacific NW. I have chatted with or given rides to about 50 this year, and none were local. I know there is an Israeli couple out there one of my friends talked to at Sheep Lake, and many from the East Coast, Kentucky, Florida, Indiana, Texas, another bunch of Germans, and several from the UK. Most have never hiked in the Pacific NW and do not understand its weather challenges.

I saw at least a dozen throughs yesterday while I was working on trail just north of Stevens.  I asked all of them if they were aware of the snow and well-below-normal temps forecast.  They all said they were and only a few seemed at all concerned.  So it's not just a lack of info.

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RumiDude
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PostThu Sep 26, 2019 12:35 pm 
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Tom wrote:
Snow doesn't look too bad but I'd be more worried about hypothermia with it not getting above freezing for the next week.

Yea, it is the cold temps that will be the issue. The snows are mostly snow showers rather than driving snow. Looks like Saturday will have the worst windy conditions. If they don't have good layers and rain gear/shell they could suffer some discomfort. For this sort of weather a good base layer, fleece, poofy, and rain shell ususally keeps me dry and comfortable.  If they are carrying anything less than a 20* bag, they are likely to be uncomfortable even if they wear their clothes to bed.

Monday the sun will come back out and moderate the temps quite a bit.

Rumi

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