Destination: MM 852ish
Cumulative Miles: 2382
So technically Mather Pass was our last pass over 12,000 feet, as it stands 12,087 feet above sea level. Muir Pass, our challenge today should get a fair mention though as it is 11,976 feet.
Apricots woke first this morning and crawled out of the tent to do the necessary. While squating in the dark, she saw eyes looking back at her, reflecting her head lamp. She came back to the tent to tell Psycho that there was a bear roaming around, but upon further inspection with the head lamp, we realized it was just one of the deer that had been roaming around our campsite all night long.
As we made our six mile climb up Muir Pass, we were given a false hope. We saw a dip in the ridge and assumed we had made good time to the pass. Unfortunately, just as we achieved that point on the trail, we realized it was not the pass. We still had another mile to go, and another 700 feet to climb.
At that point we passed a large flat lake, casting a perfect reflection of the mountain ridge wrapping the water. The only disruption to the surface were several ducks swimming here at Helen Lake. Occasionally they would dive under the water seeking food. Circular ripples grew out from them, calming shortly before they popped back up to the surface making new ripples.
Passing by the ducks at play, we made the final climb to the top of Muir Pass, named after John Muir the naturalist who first postulated that the Sierras were glaciated mountains at one time. Atop the pass, a small stone hut is built in honor of him.
We took a short break at the top, chatting with Giraffe, a southbound PCT thru-hiker. Then we made our long gradual descent down the pass towards evolution valley. As we passed Lake McDormand, we scared several frogs off into the water. Leaping from the bank, where the trail skirted the lake by a few feet, we watched as they kicked their little legs to flee from our wrath.
Late in the day we arrived at Evolution Creek. Signs directed hikers towards a location for a safer crossing when the creek is more like a swollen river. Our friends who went straight through the Sierras had one of their most difficult stream fords with this creek. For us, it was more or less a rock hop across, where our feet barely got wet.
We made the last bit of a descent down a rocky and root filled trail, arriving at a campsite with four other section hikers. We talked with them over dinner before crawling into our tent for the night. Tomorrow we have a long hike before going over Selden Pass late in the day.
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