Nothing seems to occupy the mind of a PCT hiker as much as the dreaded snow of the Sierras. People were just going crazy with fear as early as Kickoff, coming up with schemes to skip up to Oregon or Northern California, doing the Sierras later in the season, and hitchhiking all over the west coast in order to avoid the white stuff. I came up with some convoluted plans at first, but abandoned them when I discovered there would still be snow further north. Then I discovered something that I should have known already: hiking over snow is much more difficult than hiking on bare ground, but it is far from impossible.
Myth 2: Snow in the Sierras WILL KILL YOU!!!
The biggest problem with the high elevations paired with deep snow is not that they are dangerous, but that they can be dangerous. As always, a hiker must exercise caution and make informed decisions about the trail ahead. Going into the situation having taken precautions, dozens of hikers were able to go through the Sierras this year earlier than the usual June 15 start date. There were a few accidents along the way, some which could have had much worse endings than they did, but each of them could have been avoided. The two events I heard of that could have ended in serious injury were both caused by hikers letting their guard down and getting too comfortable with their surroundings. The solution, really, was just to be constantly aware of the risks and not let yourself think that doing something a dozen times makes the thirteenth time any less difficult.
If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are alternatives to going right into the snow. Instead of waiting for days at Kennedy Meadows and hoping for a little bit more to melt, you could take your time getting there from Mexico, either by leaving later than the usual Kickoff date, hiking shorter days, or taking more days off. Some hikers found other ways to kill time if they found themselves arriving earlier than they felt comfortable, such as a trip into Los Angeles, volunteering on a farm for a few weeks, visiting friends in other parts of the state, or hiking other trails in the area until they figured the snow was at an acceptable level. Since the distance from the Mexican border to Kennedy Meadows is about seven hundred miles, there’s plenty of time to figure out how you’ll enter the Sierras and when, no matter when you start the trail.