Last night we woke to flashlights on our tent. Someone has been hiking in the dark! Who is it, I thought? PCT hikers…? In the morning we learned that the threesome had never had any backpacking experience. The JMT is their first hiking attempt! Talk about jumping in with both boots! I called them the JMT Rookies of the Year.
All the passes in the Sierras are spectacular but my favourite is Muir Pass and today we will be going for it. Passing beautiful alpine lakes, we eventually stopped at Evolution Lake for lunch. Then hiking past more alpine lakes including Wanda as we headed up the Pass. We put on our rain gear as the sky was looking ominous.
The last miles are open rocky terrain. We can see the Muir hut in the distance through the rain and mist. As I scrambled up the last couple of feet, a baby marmot ran across the rocks in front of me.
Its been raining a little but the sun came out again as we reached the the top.The John Muir hut is at the 11,969 ft summit of the Pass. We weren’t there long when dark clouds brought wind and more rain, which quickly turned stormy. We ducked into the hut for shelter. Lightning and thunder cracked around us. Inside we feel safe and warm. There were 5 of us in the hut, chatting and laughing. As we got to know each other, it turns out Ken and daughter Sarah are also from North Vancouver…and used to live in our neighbourhood! ….and we went to the same high school a year apart! Our younger brothers had been ski friends. Here we are, far from the hustle and bustle of crowded cities, in this remote hut the world just got smaller. We had a swig of Ken’s whiskey to celebrate our meeting and to our adventures. As we waited the storm out, fellow hikers Shaggy and Fuel Gage came in from the rain to join us.
After about 45 minutes the storm subsided and we took the opportunity to start the long trek down. Lots of snow and creek crossings to keep it entertaining.
The rain came down in earnest. More thunder boomed above. Paul and I decided to pick up the pace knowing there are tent sites under the protection of the forest canopy at a lower elevation.
We entered the dark forest and reached Monster Rock to make camp. We were cold and wet, but happy. My hiking legs are feeling better and stronger today. We managed to pull off 20.5 miles and went over magical Muir Pass.