Beginning Elevation = 8,250
Ending Elevation = 10,850
Elevation Range = 8,250 – 11,950
Weather: Sunny and clear with afternoon rain storm
Wanting to reach Muir Pass as early in the day as we could and knowing we had a long climb ahead of us, we got going a little earlier today.
5:40am, birds chirping, deer grazing, Cheer packing up…
All was starting off nice and peacefully, except for one thing. The zipper on Cheer’s puffy had gotten stuck and she couldn’t get it off!
I’d like to say we got it no problem and moved on our way. The truth is we struggled for a while and eventually did get her out, but not without breaking the zipper in the process. A frustrating situation for sure.
It was a quiet morning walking up through the valley/canyon being surrounded by towering giants of peaks.
By 9:00am we were already needing second breakfast. Energy from the food always helps. Our spirits were lifted and we found ourselves joking around, posing for some hiker vogue-like pictures (professional photography by Calzone)…
The first six miles or so, we followed nearby to the Middle Fork Kings River, every now and then getting views of it cascading down…
Other times it would be calm and slow where the terrain flattened out. Here’s one of these calm areas where we filled up for a late morning water fill-up…
A little before 1:00pm, we reached what I thought was Helen Lake. Turns out we still hadn’t made it there yet, this was just a smaller unnamed lake, but either way we had about 1.5 miles to go to reaching Muir Pass. Rather than take lunch, we opted to keep trekking and make it to the top.
I can’t remember why I took this picture with my pack/sleeping pad included. Maybe I was trying to be artistic and failing, but it’s funny I did because it would turn out that my headphones would fall off at that exact spot. We continued on and about the time we made it to the other side of the lake, I realized I was missing them. Having a vague recollection of setting them on top of my pack loosely, I told the girls I’d catch up and ventured back to look for them.
Well… I found them. Then, turned around and leapt up the trail like a mountain goat in pursuit of catching my friends. As I neared, still hidden behind a bend in the trail, I gathered some nearby snow and launched a couple snowballs towards Cheer and Calzone so as to appear that they were falling from the sky. My aim was slightly off, but I succeeded in getting them a little peeved with me from the unprovoked assault I’d waged.
Here’s Calzone going by the actual Helen Lake. The trail wrapped around and then headed up toward the right to Muir Pass, which lies at the base of that big peak.
Just after 2:00pm, we finally made it to the John Muir Hut. Clouds were darkening as we took a few celebratory photos.
We decided that rather than try to get down the other side quickly and outrun the potential storm, we’d head into the hut, eat lunch, and wait it out!
At one point, I was nominated by the team to be sent out into the elements and report back my findings…
We ended up hanging in the hut for about two and a half hours! After sitting for a while it did start to rain and even snow a bit outside. It got a little chilly too, but the time seemed to pass quickly with our competitive card playing and such. We even got to welcome two sobo backpackers in for a while and had a ton of fun chatting with them! Eventually, we make the call to keep pushing to make our miles though…
Off we went… Cheer leading the way, followed by Calzone and her trash bag rain fly, and me in the back taking all kinds of photos. I love this part of trail! Walking next to Wanda Lake and then going by Sapphire Lake and eventually Evolution Lake is one of my fav sections.
Looking back, the sky was already starting to clear up!
This wall of mountains leaves quite the impression too!
Time laps of the team trekking along…
Can you spot the coyote?
I tried my best to get some nice reflection photos in the still water
Crossing Evolution Creek…
Nearing the last leg of the day, I found myself in front as we wrapped around Evolution Lake to our intended campsite. I stopped and watched a few different groups of deer for a while and got a magical view of the sun going down over the lake.
We finished the last bit hiking together. The spot we’d been hoping to camp at was at the very far side of Evolution Lake and as we neared we saw tents scattered all about the place. We were quite spent after another big day and it was nearing dark, so after a brief look around we each picked a flat-ish spot that wasn’t too near to others and set up quickly. It was around 8:20pm when we finally gathered for dinner.
Another outstanding day on the PCT! And another amazing spot to camp with some beautiful alpenglow-esque colors for viewing!