Jackrabbit Hikes: PCT Day 57-58

Day 57: Lake Marjorie Tentsite (mi 808.6) -> Grouse Meadows (mi 828.5)

Another sunny morning in California. No surprise. So far I’ve had a total of one day of rain, so sun is always the expectation.

After we packed our damp tents we put our also damp shoes on and headed north. It didn’t matter our shoes were damp because they were soon to be soaked again. The morning was full of river and stream crossings.

And these were not the little ankle deep guys flowing at 2mph. These were the big dogs. The ones we had heard about. A lot of whitewater and finding the best spot to cross up or down stream. Seldom did the water offer rocks up for a dry crossing; the water preferred to invite you into its fast current to find the one or two rocks springing up for hand holds.

It was a blast.

As we ascended out of the forest stream crossings we finally saw the approach to Mather Pass. We had heard about this one, too. However, in my experience 95% of FarOut comments are blown way out of proportion so I wasn’t too worried.

Me and Truncle made our ascent and finally reached the part so many described. It was a pretty steep wall of snow and ice with a huge climb of sandy, loose rock adjacent. Pick your path.

Well, we did both. We zig-zagged up bootpacked snow until we reached a dry portion. Then we diagonaled our way through the granite and loose sediment to the saddle itself. Mather Pass ascent: complete. Definitely the funnest pass yet.

The descent added even more fun. Massive glissades partnered with sprawling views. The valley was blanketed in snow. There was running water everywhere and the trail is the path of least resistance. This made the trail a continuous stream of snow melt and ensured your feet stayed wet. What a contrast to the desert.

We continued our descent into the valley and found some of the best views yet. Massive waterfalls fed by mountain faces of melting snow. Tons and tons of tiny waterfalls flooded the trail.

I could go on and on about the views today. They were some of the best of my life. I’ve been saying that a lot the last week or so. I mean it makes sense though. The Sierra’s are unbelievably beautiful. I mean that adjective when I say it. Unbelievable.

Today I shared a meadow with deer and marmots, I climbed a steep mountain pass and descended into a frozen flooded valley. I gazed out at snow peaks and shadowed a waterfall in step. I crossed crystal clear streams and – oh yeah, I haven’t filtered my water in 3 days.

I love it here. Each mountain pass I cross brings new landscape and terrain. I can’t wait to see what Muir Pass has to offer tomorrow.

Day 58 – Grouse Meadows (mi 828.5) to Tentsite (mi 846.0)

Exhausted. My whole body is spent. Plus I feel sunburnt even through my clothes.

Today me and Graham did Muir Pass. We reached Muir Pass Shelter at the summit around 11:15 AM. We had postholed some of the last 2 miles of the ascent but there was lots of boot pack that made things easier.

The descent was a whole different animal. Constant and consistent post holing for 5 miles. The mountains created a quarter-mile wide valley where snow was piled against almost every inch. We began our descent at noon and knew it was not going to be ideal.

It was a slog. 3.5 hours for 5 miles. Every 4-5 steps the snow would give and your leg would instantly become encased in ice. You push off with your other leg to pull the trapped leg out and then the ground beneath that one gives. Then you try and use your arms to pull both of your legs out of the snow and the snow gives beneath them as well.

Over and over we fell into the snow. It was so hard to stay positive mentally, I was getting so agitated. All the meanwhile, the giant bowl of snow we were hiking in was reflecting the sun all around us and back onto us. We were grilling as we slid through the glimmering white valley. Postholing for hours is something I thought I was prepared for but it was way more debilitating then I was expecting. The sun grilled my skin and my eyes with no remorse or relief. Hours and hours passed.

I can barely keep my eyes open as I write this entry and it’s 7:45 pm here. I’m peering out the bug net of my tent watching the last hour of light fall on a granite peak beside me. The mountains are a perfect canvas for the sun’s wide strokes.

The Sierra’s set such insanely high expectations each day and each day it beats those expectations. It blows them out of the water. Today they showed me you have to earn it.

That Knorr instant rice hit extra, EXTRA hard tonight.

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