Today I for once actually got a bit of condensation in my tent, but nothing serious, I can just dry stuff out later.
As previously mentioned, I wanted to cross Muir Pass early today so that I could avoid slushy ice and post-holing through it, so I got going before the sun. It was cold as usual, but not as bad as yesterday.
First obstacle of the day was a creek fording that I had seen on the map yesterday and expected to give me wet feet, but going a bit upstream, I found it dividded in four, which despite its significant size allowed me to cross without getting my feet wet. Cut to a bit later, and there was another, but smaller fording, with nice stepping stones. Luckily, I was cautious and remembered the ice covered stones of yesterday and checked the friction before settling foot, as there was none, and I would definitely have slipped if I carelessly had tried to jump from one to another. There was no way around getting my feet wet, so I took off my socks, crossed, squeezed water out of my shoes, put my socks back on, and walked further.
Next, the hiker I went up Mather Pass with yesterday showed up. We followed each other for a while. A creek was completely covered in a thick layer of snow and we opted to simply walk across it given the fact that there seemed to be no other good option and it seemingly was what everyone else had done based on the footprints. This was somewhat uncomfortable for me, as you never know how robust such a snow bridge is and you would be in a very bad situation if you fell through. But it went fine, and the snow was very hard. Next another small ford. Here the creek vanished under the snow/ice. That definitely wasn’t somewhere you would want to be swept away into if you slid. Good thing it wasn’t deep at allI therefore opted to just walk through it and be very careful as opposed to attempting the icy stepping stones. As before, I tried to dry out my shoes, but by the time I was finished with the first one, the shoe laces had frozen on the other one. Didn’t prevent me from trying to dry it out, but just to give an idea of how cold my feet actually felt. I had to keep moving to keep everything warm. Luckily, things got a bit easier after that. It was
Mostly a matter of putting microspikes on, walking a stretch on snow, taking them off to cross some rocks, putting them back on to cross another stretch of snow etc., and the slopes weren’t steep either. Eventually, we reached the top of the pass where there was a nice little hut, that simply was open for everyone to use, and in deed some hikers had been sleeping there. I celebrated the ascent with a Milky Way bar that I had kept in my shirt pocket so it wouldn’t be too hard and cold. Note that the contrast to the desert section here isn’t the choice of candy bar (the supermarket simply was out of snickers bars) but the nature of the temperature problem obstructing optimal candy bar ingestion. I seem to have flown out of a tangent here.
Going down, there was still a mile long stretch with snow interrupted by patches of rock/ground eventually turning into patches and snow and these patches eventually disappearing. It wasn’t dangerous in any way but just time consuming including a ton of small creeklet crossing, scrambling, and pathfinding. The sun was up and my feet were no longer hurting from the cold, and shortly after I was in my shorts. The temperatures, and the situation in genreal can change really quickly here in the Sierras in the summer.
A bit later, anting to cross a creeklet dry, I eventually was fooled by a partially iced rock and mildly bruised one of my ankles. Nothing serious, though, and before I knew of it, the trail was back to normal. There was first some nice lakes, but I might have been slightly too agitated from the somewhat unpleasant awakening of today. Afterwards a long further descent from the pass with switchbacks followed. This was somewhat strenuous as it was rocky and you resultantly needed constantly needed to be mindful of your footing. Eventually it flattened out as the trail reached the bottom and going got both much quicker and easier.
Next obstruction of today’s agenda was a fording of Evolution Creek, which sometimes is treacherous, but an alternative crossing at meadow wasn’t way off, so like most other people l, I simply took that, which led to a meadow where the creek was slow and very manageable. After the crossing I took my shoes and socks off and sat on the soft grassy bank and had lunch with the gentle flowing of the river as a soundtrack. That was nice and relaxing and probably the first time I properly relaxed after Muir Pass.
I felt that I still had some milage left in me today and wanted to go to the Muir Trail Ranch tomorrow on an alternative route to the PCT to check it out and maybe have a drink tomorrow, but a paper note posted on the junction to it stated that it wouldn’t be open for another week, so instead of going part of the way there toncamp and subsequently backtrack I instead pushed on and climbed ??? almost to another pass to the next proper camp site. It was a somewhat tough end to a long day, but So much progress: Muir Pass and 27.5 miles done. Wasn’t expecting that kind of mileage in the Sierras, and it meant that I could probably make it to Vermillion Valley Resort tomorrow. I camped and went almost instantaneously to bed.