Mile reached: 844.4 (+9.4)
High: Stopping and taking time to enjoy all of the things I would have not noticed otherwise.
Low: I was a little slow getting over the pass and ended up in a posthole quagmire on the backside.
I was only 3.5 miles from the pass, so I could afford to sleep in until 7, right? Well, I was the last one out of camp by probably an hour or two. Much to my dismay there was a stream crossing almost immediately after I got started. Rock hoping was possible, but some of the rocks were covered in clear ice, which almost resulted in disaster.
Muir Pass, the objective for the day, is notorious for its gradual approach through extended snowfields. Having gone over four other passes, it was hard to believe how much snow was in this pass. However, it did make the accent fairly easy, since it was possible to take a direct line up.
In the pass I ran into “Catfish John” and “Ramblin Rose”, to whom my dad had given a ride a few days back. They assured me that going down the pass would be great and there would be awesome glissading. After spending a few minutes in the pass, “Phoenix” and fine others slowly trickled in. “Mermaid” generously shared a Mio snow cone with me. We waited around a bit as various people ate snacks, and probably waited too long.
I was ahead of schedule and the best stretch along Evolution Creek is widely regarded as the most beautiful section of the JMT. So, I knew I would only be doing a short day and decided to head down with the group. I learned that I had finally reached the front of “The Herd”, the big bubble of thru-hikers attempting the PCT. They had all started on the 5th or 6th of April and were in Wrightwood when I was in Campo! All that were in front of them were the really fast people and those that started ridiculously early in the year.
Despite the glissading being terrible, everyone was in good spirits until the first person postholed. Very quickly every third step would plunge that foot down to the knee. Multiple times I punched through into a river of meltwater beneath the snow. The terrain was so flat that there was no escape, and the four miles to the snow line lasted forever.
After a long lunch, I went a few miles more before finding a spectacularly beautiful place to camp. It was still early afternoon, so I had plenty of time to explore. I napped next to a powerful waterfall and listened to icebergs go over it. These gorgeous purple flowers were in bloom contrasting against the sterile rock and snow. I even enjoyed observing clouds scrape over Mount Darwin. I finished the day camped out in the open watching the sunset down the Evolution Valley and listening to frogs croak at 10,000 feet.