PCT Day 158 – Monday, September 18
Mile 826.3 to Evolution Lake Mile 843
PCT Miles Hiked Today: 16.7
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1713.3
Feet Ascended Today: 4203
Feet Descended Today: 1723
Current Elevation: 10874
It was so nice to awake without frost on my tent this morning. Sleeping at a lower elevation has its advantages. I really wanted to make it over Muir Pass today so I moved quickly this morning. Muir Pass is the last of the major passes in the Sierras near or over 12000 feet and will be the last time that I’m at such a high elevation on this hike.
I hiked a mile down to an elevation of 8000 feet and then spent most of the day climbing uphill, following the Middle Fork of the Kings River to its source. It was another hot, cloudless day and this time I put sunscreen on my face and on the back of my hands, and I put a bandana under my hat to protect my neck from the sun.
It was a long hike uphill, climbing 4000 feet in elevation. The Kings River spilled down rock faces into spectacular waterfalls as it flowed down the mountain. I climbed up to a lovely meadow and spent lunch there while I rinsed out some of my clothing.
After lunch I kept climbing until I reached the tree line. There the scenery changed and I was in a world of granite cliffs, alpine lakes and snowfields. I climbed higher and discovered another alpine lake and then another, each one higher than the last. The highest lake is named Helen Lake after one of John Muir’s daughters.
After I reached the highest lake, I kept climbing up some switchbacks and soon the Muir Hut came into view. I lost the trail under some snow but climbed across the rocks straight towards the hut. It was really windy on top and I put on some extra layers while I took in the view. The inside of the hut was bare and empty, but provided some shelter from the wind.
I was about to head down from the top of the pass when Mongoose (Elise) and Gilligan (Sevie) came into view, hiking southbound. What a happy surprise! I hiked with Elise and Sevie for a week back in the desert just prior to Wrightwood. It was so nice to see them again. So I stayed an extra hour at the hut with them, catching up.
It was 5:00 when I began my descent from Muir Pass, and already beginning to get cold. I made it as far as Evolution Lake when it began to get dark so I set up my tent. I was still at an elevation of 10800 feet so it was going to be a cold night.