This trail guide, like the High Sierras, divides itself into ups and downs. Our miles are generally done either going up to the top of the mountain, or we are coming down from the mountaintop into the valley that separates us from the next mountaintop.
This means that the mileages and elevations between the peaks and the valleys are going to be important information determining how many miles we can reasonably expect to cover each of our hiking days. This relationship between distance, altitude, and difficulty will be instrumental in planning where we are going to camp every night, and ultimately this information will determine how many days it will take us to cover a given distance. This in turn establishes our proper food load.
There are 27.88 miles between the Carson Pass and the Ebbetts Pass along the Pacific Crest Trail. Ebbetts Pass is 1355 feet higher than the Carson Pass. But these gross elevation and mileage figures do not describe the series of challenging ups and downs that virtually all Sierra trails present to their visitors.
We have to climb Forestdale Divide, the Nipple, and Raymond Peak between Carson Pass and Ebbetts Pass. We hike around the base of Reynolds Peak, pretty much, and the final climb up to Ebbetts Pass is gentle.
From Carson Pass to Ebbetts Pass the terrain can too be categorized as a roller coaster, but this section of our ride through much more arid conditions than the conditions we experienced in Desolation Wilderness and the Tahoe Basin.
Nonetheless, though I do not find this section particularly challenging, we are climbing and descending almost constantly until we reach Ebbetts Pass. There is a gentle rolling forested segment of trail from where we come off the South flank of the Nipple to where we begin climbing Raymond Peak that will have dry lakes early in the Summer, if the drought continues. (2015)
Remember this important rule to keep our attitude positive:
Every descent route holds many mini-ascents, and every ascent has many mini-descents within its route. Our mileage will very rarely just go up, or just go down. We are going endlessly up and down.
Get used to it. Accept it. Enjoy it.