Dropped off in Manning Park at 3:30 a.m. with another person who asked if I was doing the PCT. Have since joined forces with John Rompel, a PhD in computer science currently living in Susanville. John hiked the PCT Northbound over two seasons, 2001-2002, and has a GPS. Yes! By 4:30 John's gear was ready, so we hit the trail which was a bit of deja vu. We made good time to Monument 78, where we met James, who much to his chagrin was not an ultralight hiker. His food bag filled with two and a half weeks worth of food was nearly as heavy as my whole pack! We all signed in at the trail register and I suppose my motto has become "One step south is one step closer to home". I was happy with the amount of snow melt over a week's time but Devil's Stairway was still hellacious and took some time to negotiate and then the slog through the snowfield at Three Fools Cirque. The ice axe was certainly nice to have as it gave me a much greater feeling of security than the trekking pole. John's GPS came in handy as I now know how I went astray on my first attempt. There was a trail junction buried under the snow at Woody Pass and with my faulty compass, I had taken an exposed part of trail 473 which led past Coney Basin. I hadn't even been on the PCT while looking for Holman Pass! A different set of switchbacks were now exposed leading to a section of the PCT that cut across the eastern slope of Powder Mountain. With daylight waning causing the snow on the trail to become hard and icy and slowly being overcome with our own sense of fatigue at the end of a long day, John and I decided to retreat to the bottom of the slope off trail to find an adequate yet lumpy campsite. Zzzzzzz.