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PCT 2015 Day 52: Muir Pass

  • Start: 831.5
  • End: 852.2
  • Miles: 20.7
  • Camp: South Fork San Joaquin River

It’s not every day that begins with a deer staring at you while you’re on the toilet. The campsite was by the water so both of us were limited in where we could go in the immediate vicinity. I didn’t mind.

The supposed “long and gradual” climb up Muir Pas was a lie – it was relatively steep all the way but not unpleasantly so. My backpack was feeling good, and the terrain was varied throughout the climb. The trail followed the North Fork of the Kings River with a powerful flow and big falls. I can only imagine the Kings River once the two forks meet. 

Helen Lake on the south side and Wanda Lake on the north side of Muir Pass are apparently named for John Muir’s daughters, and there is a stone hut at the pass called Muir Hut erected by the Sierra Club which he founded. One of the early advocates of the Leave No Trace principle, creation of National Parks, and preservation of wilderness areas, he is who I have to thank for the places I’m walking through right now.

The descent followed the incredible Evolution Valley. Deer, marmots, birds, lakes, waterfalls. I didn’t want to hike, but just sit and look forever. It made me upset to think I had miles to complete before the end of the day to make town with the amount of food I was carrying. As the trail moved into forested areas, I was happier to hike fast again. Strange that a beautiful area should make me antsy whilst a relatively dull section should improve my outlook.

The end of the day saw us fording Evolution Creek, one of the most notorious of the Sierra. Whilst I can see how it would be exceptionally scary in high water, with rocky cascades only a short distance from the trail, it was totally fine today (except for the atrocious mosquitoes).  The sun on the creek water as it fell down the steep hill after the ford was mesmerising, and I stopped to watch the sun sink over the peaks. I’m not sure the camera can do it justice.

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