Mountain Education trains hikers to safely anticipate and deal with all these extremes of hiking. We have been doing this for PCT/CDT hikers and general wilderness users since 1982 and have read many trail journals about thier joys and trials. This account is one of the best we have ever read!
For all who desire to enter the high country before the snowpack melts, what you read and saw, here, is what you will need to prepare for. This is typical of the conditions at that time of year and shows what we like to call, "The Reality of the Trail." It is not easy. You will eat twice the usual amount of food while only covering half your desired trail miles per day. The creeks are bad. The climbs can be dangerous. The glissades are glorious, but you've got to know what you're doing.
Learning what these conditions are really like the year before you do the trail will show you what to prepare for, what skills you need to learn to get through it, and help keep you safe and happy once you start your dream hike. Take it seriously. We teach in the snow from January through July and these videos included in this article show conditions and skills typical of what you will have to do on a daily basis on the PCT north of Kennedy Meadows and all the way to Donner Pass (after winters like the last two...and this one coming up).
It doesn't matter where you get your experience and skills practice, just get it! Local Junior Colleges, Community Colleges, State Colleges, Universities, and Mountain Shops may have courses which will teach you how to do the requisite skills to be safe. The Sierra has a stable, spring snowpack that is consolidated and firm, especially in the morning, but it has its dangers like post-holing, slip-and-falls, steep traverses, tree navigation, and much more. From our perspective, teaching along the PCT from Tahoe south, you should get a taste of these spring conditions in the high sierra along the John Muir/Pacific Crest Trails the year before your thru hike so you will know how to prepare for it.
Great documentation, guys! Now, post to the pct-l to help others know what you had to do and what the next class of thrus needs to prepare for. See you at the Kickoff!