John Muir Trail – What is up with all this up?

Day 13 (7/11/2017)

Muir pass here I come.  I ate a bar and was off.   Mosquitoes did not move as fast in the morning, so taking advantage of the morning chill was essential!  It turned out I was only 0.5 mile from the middle fork junction.  At the junction the river was deafening. I was so glad I didn’t have to cross it.  I checked my map again to be sure.

It’s silly, but I believe, that if I’ve been good, then karma will reward me.  As I hiked up the Leconte valley the path was flooded on and off.  In one section I stopped dead in my tracks to watch a hummingbird give itself a bath in the morning light.  Thank you.

Up and up some more.  It wasn’t steep, but it persisted.  I watched two deer cross the trail and eat the new leaves off the trees.  Their slobber glistened in the sun.

I ran into the ranger near the Dusty Fork Bridge.  Now I knew why such small branches and sticks were cleared from the trail — the ranger went out daily to clear avalanche damage with a bow saw only.  Consequently, only small branches would be cleared. Massive trees and boulders from the winter’s avalanche remained. What a job!  I was also struck by the fact that the bridge over Dusty Forks was in the middle of nowhere.  Who the heck built this thing?  Who carried in the cement and steel?  Absolutely nuts, but hey, thank you.

More up.  It wasn’t bad, but gradual.  Eventually the turn towards Muir pass. But it kept going.  It hit snow drifts again, and finally the ROCK MONSTER.   “Come a little closer and look in side so I can eat you up.”

At every time I was certain I was on the final approach to Muir Pass, there was more up.  After an exhausting zig zag, I stopped by a waterfall.  The ground was soft, I had been at it all day, nap time called.  I awoke with a woman eating lunch beside me.  She was talkative.  She told me South Fork Kings had swept her down a few hundred yards.  Her legs were all beat up and she lost some of her gear.  She had to walk out over Bishop pass to order more gear and was to receive it at Mammoth.  This PCT trip was her present to  herself for finishing high school.  Her goal was to get to the Muir hut that night to sleep because she had no tent.  Rugged!

At the top there was a river crossing.  My feet were dry and warm, and it was getting close to the end of the day.  I evaluated what to do.  I went up river.  It grew steep and I didn’t want to keep going.  There was an ice bridge across.  I could hear Middle Fork roar under it.  The ice bridges were getting sketchy and in the words of Ramses: “Yeah, well they are all sketchy, so what….”   For one, I didn’t want to fall in a river and be pull under ice.  I decided to cross.  Crunch, crunch, CRACK.  I fell three feet into the water.  A four by four section of the bridge went with me.  Like a cat, I hoped up and clung to the ledge of the river bank and pulled my self up.  My heart was pounding in my throat.  I went upstream more and found a section of ice bridge that was more solid and crossed.  I came across a little lake.  I looked onward and there was more up. Sun cups and snow traverses.  Shoot.  A hiker on their way down said it was about three miles of intense snow hiking to the pass, and another six miles of snow after that.  I would not make six miles and 1,200 feet to the pass and beyond before night fall.  They said there was kind of a campsite up farther, but this was the last decent one. I pitched my tent. and made myself some Ramen and tomato soup with vegetables.  I still had enough food, and I had about two days to my food drop at MTR (Muir Trail Ranch).  The campsite reeked of urine, but I didn’t care.  It was beautiful.

It was one of my favorite sites of the trip.  If I had looked just 20 yards to the east, there was something better.  Lesson learned.  Walk around more before settling on a site.  I was behind schedule.  Day 11 should have been the Leconte Ranger station, and here I was Day 13 and just a few miles beyond the ranger station.  Moments like these I thanked my lucky stars I brought stove to heat up soup and Ramen.

Miles today: 9.3 (pathetic).   Elevation gain: 2760 Elevation decline 435.

I had hiked about 135 miles thus far.  I was at the half way point (give or take).  I had a food drop coming up in 20-30 miles.  This excited me.

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