June 18: unlike he previous 2 valleys which had lakes and meadows interspersed with boulders, the valley I climbed out of today was a pine forest. Beautiful, shady, full of deer and squirrels. Today I was going to claim over Muir Pass, named after John Muir- naturalist, author, tireless defender of the environment, and founder of the Sierra Club. Muir pass is often sites as the hardest of the Sierra passes because of its steep bowls on either side where deep snow tends to stick around into late summer.
I, again, was questioning why I had bothered to buy the "guidebook" which offered such useful tips as: "Many hikers end up going the wrong direction in this area, as there are two passes. Make sure not to take the wrong one." Excellent. So much more useful than, say, "you must cross over the Kings River at mile 823 before the climb to Muir Pass." Remember- if you are writing a guidebook and overcharging people for it, be sure to keep your instructions vague and confusing.
Useless guide aside, the climb to Muir Pass was beautiful. Again, not very strenuous this year, but I can imagine how difficult this section would be in high snow years. There was still larger patches of snow, and some of the lakes were around 70% covered with ice. The sun was quite strong, though, and I walked along with a strange sensation ps being hot and cold simultaneously.
At the top of the pass was a stone hut, which sometimes hikers use to take shelter, sometimes to sleep in. I imagine that would be an extremely cold night! I sat outside the hut with around 10 other hikers, eating lunch and sharing trail stories.
On the way down, we passed several more half frozen lakes and enjoyed super cold, great tasting water during breaks. The soundtrack to The Sound of Music was playing in my head all afternoon!
As the elevation dropped, we found ourselves back in the forest. I camped at a beautiful campsite next to Bear Creek- swim able for up to 60 seconds at a time! And providing a nice babbling sound to mix with "My Favorite Things" as I drifted off to sleep.
Peace, love, and trail magic!