It’s hard to get up this morning – I’m usually racing Sprinkles and Homegrown, but they didn’t make it in last night. I hope they’re okay, and I hope Sprinkles is feeling better. Maybe we’ll see them today.
Muir Pass is on the docket – it’s the only one of the five main passes that’s still snowbound, so even though Pinchot should’ve sucked way more re: elevation gain, it’s likely that this won’t be a breeze. Having had very little so far, I’m still not used to snow travel.
First, though, we meet the nicest monster.
Then it’s up, up, normal-like at first.
Then comes the snow, and the ice bridges.
Then the snowfield crossings, and finding end losing the trail over and over again.
I use my microspikes for the last bit, especially since a JMT hiker chose to glissade down the stairwell everyone had made. Womp womp.
But then, the Hut!
And an overly friendly marmot!
And a thunderstorm rolling in and threatening to cross the ridge!
I don’t stay long before I’m antsy, need to walk away from the building clouds – but going down is going into a slippery minefield of slick, melting, posthole-y snow and boulderfields to clamber over in between. There’s no place to glissade at all, and I find myself on my ass twice – the whole thing’s physically and mentally exhausting. And once we’re out of that and beside a lake, the trail is pretty much a feeder stream the whole way. My feet are wet, but at least it’s pretty.
I stare at the ice-filled water of the lake, the reflections of the clouds, the mountains, the rocks clearly visible at the bottom. A part of me wants to jump in, as stupid as I know that would be. I hate the cold, for one; I don’t want to be wet, for another. Still, the desire lingers, like the faint pull of all distantly dreaded things.
As I’m descending, I fall into a sort of reverie, a waking dream that’s hard to shake, hard to explain. The Sierran landscape has a way of making me feel so small, so utterly insignificant, that I find myself shrinking back from the grandeur into my body, forced back into all my aches and pains and anxieties. I don’t know what I’m meant to do, meant to be, but I feel like I’m on the verge of something big – or maybe that’s just a reaction to feeling so small. But the longer I feel small, the lighter I get, until I feel like I’m going to blow away in the breeze. It’s a very pleasant feeling, though maybe it should feel otherwise. It kind of sort of feels like letting go.
Letting go of the fear, of the fuckups, of the inadequacy. Of the rips and tears in my gear, in my muscles, in my soul. And where the fear has gone, as Dune once promised, there is nothing. Only I remain. But it is a fledgling I, so new, so strange, and I only see her for a moment before the fear of losing her comes pouring back in and she’s gone.
I push the fear back out, but she’s still gone. She’s apparently not one of those things you can look at directly. So I’m just here, in this place, in this moment, one foot in front of the other.
I catch Yoda and Outro almost immediately, sunning themselves on a rock. As this is one of my favorite pastimes, I join them, curse myself for not soaking my food earlier, leave it and my wet socks and shoes and gaiters and insoles out in the sun. It feels so good to be in the sun, with nothing to do, nowhere to go. Kind of. 7.5 more miles, but who’s counting?
They roll away under my feet, lakes to forest to river/creek. So many views!
The creek is Evolution Creek, to be precise, one of the rougher crossings on the PCT. We’ll stay on this side tonight, cross when it’s lower in the morning. Or, at least, that’s the plan.
The campsite next to the crossing is full up, so we go to the one that’s supposedly on the south side – which is very much on the north side. Yoda, having slipped and gotten wet atthe last stream crossing, does everything short of yelling YOLO before also hopping into Evolution and making it across with ease. Outro is next, then me – I struggle to put my trekking poles into the sand below a couple times, but then I’m through the deep part and onto the shore. Yoda starts splashing, but the evening is too cold for that.
We find a place to camp just uphill with a mixed bunch – some PCT hikers and some JMT hikers. The picardin mosquito repellent mostly seems to be working, and until they cloud up around 7:30 I’m able to eat – well, to put down two snickers and a Builder Bar. The clouds are just too much for me; flailing around like a madwoman takes too much energy. So it’s off to bed, arranging the tent just so and getting stoked to sleep in tomorrow.
Start: 832.6 • End: 850.9 • Day: 18.3
Notable Accomplishments: Survived the last of the 5 major passes • Survived an evening crossing of Evolution Creek • Got to spend another day in the Sierra. Yes, they’re that great.