Thursday, September 12, 2013

day 21: 12th day on the JMT, below Muir Pass to campsite (location unknown)

Happy Father's Day!  We love and miss both of our dads very much!  Today we began our slow ascent up Muir Pass that stands at 11,955 feet elevation (we needed to go 2000 feet over 9 miles).  Vegas hiked with us again.  We started going slowly up and out of Evolution Valley.  It was pretty and nice to hike through.  Oh yeah, John's thermometer said it was 27 degrees this morning!  Ahh, so cold!

frosty morning

Hiking the trail (center/right of pic) up to Muir Pass

On our way to Muir Pass, not bad to look at, right?

Anyway, hike hike hike slowly up.  We saw a lot of PCT hikers.  We passed some beautiful lakes: Sapphire Lake (the water did look like sapphires), Wanda Lake, Helen Lake (both named after John Muir's daughters) and plenty of other little ones.  The last 1000 feet is near and we go up, up, up and across some snow (of course).

(trail to the left)

Still hiking up to Muir Pass

I'm thinking this might be Sapphire Lake (I'll have to check with John)


Since it was Father's Day I mentally dedicated this climb to my dad.  It may seem silly but I thought of him the majority of the climb, how lucky I am to have him for my dad and how proud he would be of me.  So, I did good, Dad!  The climb was hard but not too difficult, I think I'm getting stronger.  At the top is Muir Hut.  A little stone hut the Sierra Club built in honor of John Muir and it provides shelter for hikers who are hiking through that very long, very exposed part of the trail.  It was pretty cool (the hut), John and I ate our lunch inside.  It felt really odd and very comforting to be inside a building after being outside for so long.  It's funny how you begin to notice things like that, that you would never realize in your regular day to day life.

 Still going up to Muir Pass

360 view at the top of Muir Pass

Muir Hut in the distance (middle of picture)

Muir Hut up close

We ran into some PCT hikers as we were packing up and they told us the other side of Muir Pass was the most difficult one they've crossed.  Great.  Because we were just about to begin doing that in about 2 minutes.

 Snowman at the top of Muir Pass, created and left by previous hikers

Looking back on the landscape we'd just hiked

John overlooking where we just came

Difficult it was.  It was heavily covered in snow.  John had to try and figure out where the trail might be because so much of it was covered, so we just started hiking in a general direction.  I hated it.  Descending on steep, snow covered mountainsides is scary.  But we got through it!  We had to cross a lot of creeks and snow covered areas but we finally made it out of there.

Going down the other side of Muir Pass

Still going down

Rocky trail (trail to the left and curves to middle of pic)

Trail to the left, packed snow and stream to the right

After that we descended a lot (2400 feet).  Then we came along a great camping spot a little earlier than planned but decided to stay because getting down from Muir Pass was more difficult than we planned.  Plus mine and Vegas' feet were killing us (blisters).

So happy to see grass and little wildflowers!

Then we were greeted by rain and a little hail.  We all set up our tents really quickly and ate dinner under some trees (out of the rain).  After awhile the wind started to blow something fierce and the temperatures plummeted.  Now we are about to go to sleep (at 8:45 p.m.).

Again, yay grass!

What hurts: blisters on my feet!!  So many new ones.  John's feet are sore too.  Other than that, we're good.

Campsite for the night

Total JMT miles: 131

*Side note: This may sound silly but I am just now thinking I can complete this trail.  I haven't had much confidence in myself and with 6 days left I'm thinking I might be able to do this.  6 days...

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