Wet, snowy winter creates life-threatening hazards for Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Raging rivers and deep snowpack are delaying, detouring and challenging the most determined thru-hikers — including several from Seattle — as they head north from Mexico on the fabled West Coast path.

LOS ANGELES — Anya Sellsted had scaled scary snow-covered passes and forded frightening rivers during her solo hike from Mexico to Canada when the hazards of California’s gargantuan winter finally caught up to her.

While crossing a partly submerged log in Yosemite National Park, Sellsted was sucked under the tree and down the rushing creek. She gasped for air as the weight of her 55-pound backpack pushed her under the frigid water.

No one was within miles as she was battered and scraped on rocks before grasping branches and saving herself.

“I couldn’t stop screaming and shaking and crying,” said Sellsted, who swigged whiskey to calm her nerves.

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Sellsted, 31, who works at a Seattle architecture firm, is one of several hikers who reported harrowing incidents tackling the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail across this year’s massive snowpack, which has fed swift streams and turned the dream trip of a lifetime into a near-death nightmare for some.

Hikers have survived an avalanche, falls on snow and close calls in raging rivers. Most have retreated to lower ground and detoured the hazardous Sierra Nevada — the highest, most rugged section of the scenic trail running the length of California and through Oregon and Washington.

Hiking the trail is an arduous…

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