Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 8,428 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 23.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 826.2 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 40s 60s
Pain level- low
Days without shower- 8
Hunger/craving- something greasy
I woke up a little later than I wanted to, and Ma-sashi was already almost completely packed up. I hopped out of the hammock and had everything packed almost exactly when Ma-sashi finished. We spoke for a few mins about each other’s homes, and about the trail, before I wished him a safe hike and journey home to Japan. We each took a picture together before parting ways.
Today was an awesome day. I still felt the altitude, but not as bad. I was able to power over two 12,000 ft passes, and rack up over 20 miles.
I had an intense climb over rock and snow up Pinchot Pass, spent maybe 5 mins at the top, and made for the bottom.
I hit the base of the next climb around noon, and stopped on a rocky ledge for an hour and a half to have lunch and dry out my sleeping bag.
Every morning, the outer shell of my sleeping bag is wet from condensation. So every morning, I pack it up damp, then every afternoon, I take it out during my lunch break, and let it dry in the sun. This is one of my daily rituals that I don’t really write about.
I dug into the next 6 mile climb to Mather Pass around 1:30 pm. When I reached the final climb towards the pass in the late afternoon, it was easily the most challenging so far. I lost the trail, blazed over some snow packs, spotted some switchbacks high on the pass, then climbed hundreds of feet over granite boulders to get to them. Not the trail, but infinitely more fun and challenging. I was in a bear crawl position the entire way. The most impressive and scary thing about Mather Pass, was the giant wall of crumbled granite that hung out over top of you. How it all held together without falling is beyond me. Every time I looked up, I got a strong dose of vertigo.
After finally conquering the climb, I was met with my latest “most dramatic view.” I took a picture, as you can see below.
I made up my mind that I was going to descend the entire 10 miles to the base of the next climb, tonight, no matter what.
I set out into the evening and the long descent. The first couple miles were mostly snow. I found myself butt sliding down a lot of slopes, and post holing through the gradual declines until I reached solid trail again.
As I got back into the tree line, the deer were out in force. Waterfalls, lakes, and streams abounded. When I reached what I considered to be my favorite view of the entire trail so far, I happened to cross paths with another southbound John Muir Trail hiker. He offered to take my picture, if I took his; I agreed. I won’t even try to describe the scene to you, just look at the picture below. Surprise, surprise, it doesn’t do it justice.
I hiked into the dark, and didn’t reach my desired location until around 9:30. I felt very calm hiking at night here, by myself; even though every corner you turn is a picturesque spot to see a Grizzly or Cougar, perched or on the prowl. The abundance of deer made me feel safe. If they weren’t worried, then I definitely wasn’t worried.
Tomorrow I’m supposed to go over the toughest mountain pass of the Sierras supposedly; Muir Pass. What makes it tough, is the 11 mile climb on the south side, and the 20ish mile descent on the north side. The fun doesn’t stop there, 3 miles on the Southside are all completely in snow, and 4 miles down the Northside are all snow. So 7 miles of the top of that pass will all be snow. I’m not sure how far I’ll get…