Day 71 & 72 – Another day, another pass
Monday 8 July 2019
Location: Middle Fork Kings River (mile 835.5)
Distance travelled: 4.5 miles (+8.4 miles off trail)
We woke up relatively early as we still had over 2 miles of snow hiking before we would reach Bishop Pass again.
When we reached the bottom of the pass, it was fairly clear that snow conditions had not changed much from when we descended the pass a few days ago.
After assessing the options, we decided to rock scramble up the switchbacks again rather than attempting to climb up the snow covered slope.
Going up seemed slightly less intense than the way down and we had reached the top of the pass before we knew it.
We made our way down the other side of the pass, stopping to chat with a few other hikers on their way through to Bishop.
The switchbacks down seemed to go quickly, and before we knew it we were back at the spot that we camped at on the way up to Bishop Pass. We stopped for lunch and a break (and a nap, for some of us).
Once we reached the PCT again at the bottom of another set of switchbacks we had to change gears as we were done with downhill and would now be climbing again for the rest of day. My legs weren’t happy about this and the afternoon dragged on as I pushed myself up the hill one step at a time.
Eventually, we reached patchy snow and my pace slowed again.
After crossing one final river, we set about looking for a campsite which was harder than expected with all the snow and damp ground. Eventually we found a nice flat spot just big enough for a two man tent and decided to call it a night.
Tomorrow we would be going over another pass, Muir Pass.
Tuesday 9 July 2019
Location: Evolution Creek campsite (mile 848.4)
Distance travelled: 12.9 miles
We were up with the sun again today to get the best conditions for Muir Pass. The going was pretty good all in all as this was the most gentle incline of all the passes so far.
The trail took us past a number of frozen lakes on the way up and we stopped from time to time to watch birds walking on the frozen surface.
We reached the top of Muir Pass by mid morning and stopped at the emergency shelter to chat with a few other hikers.
We had been warned by a southbound hiker that there were 5 miles of snow to contend with on the other side of the pass. As it was all downhill though, it wasn’t too much of a concern initially.
As the day went on though, the sun started to soften the snow and the walking became much more difficult for me. I lost count of the number of times the snow would give way under my feet, causing me to topple over. It was super frustrating.
As beautiful as it was, I was glad to see the end of the snow after reaching the stunning Evolution Lake and put my feet back on to solid ground. We still had to drop a bit of elevation to reach our campsite for the night, near Evolution Creek. It was a nice change of scenery to leave the alpine environment for more foresty areas.
We heeded the advice of some local hikers to camp a bit back from our planned campsite at Evolution Creek in order to avoid the worst of the mosquitoes. They were still out in force where we ended up camping so I can only imagine how bad they would have been further on down the trail.