PCT 2007 Day 81
Day 81 / 6-14-07 Cowboy Camp 8050′
Unnamed lake NE of Helen Lake – Piute Pass Trail
18.4 miles; 854.4 (45.6) total miles; 2741.6 trip miles
70’s sunny hot
Marmot count is 40
Deer count is 36
Pika count is 2
Bear count is 0
I slept great last night but woke up around 4 AM, so I went back to bed until around 5:20. Vortex and Blue Sky were first out of camp but I caught up to them at one of the major stream crossings between Helen Lake and where we camped. Vortex actually threw his pack across a stream to me, so he could jump across without it.
As we approached Helen Lake it was clear the information the couple gave us was correct. There was snow and rocks everywhere and no place to camp. The lake was mostly frozen as well.
Route finding from this point on was tough. I lost the trail many times while post holing in some of the softer snow. Most of the snow was firm enough to walk on, which made life easier. I rounded a switchback near the top of the pass and got my first view of the Muir Hut. It’s a stone hut that looks like a yurt on top of the pass. Muir Pass is 11,955′ in height but was not too bad to climb. We all hung out in the hut admiring the work it took to make it. Then we all climbed on top of the hut one at a time and had our picture taken.
The descent from the pass was a lot more difficult than the ascent. The snow was super soft by now and we post holed all over. The other issue was the runoff from the snow melt. For the first time I hiked in wet shoes. It was wet all the way past Wanda Lake. The lake was mostly frozen but the edge wasn’t and the water was so clear. It was like looking in a glass of tap water.
We were now on a 19 miles descent and the hiking was easy. We had lunch shortly before McClure Meadow. Vortex and Blue Sky joined us. They left after lunch but we took a nap. The mosquitoes were bad enough that I curled up in my bug net to nap.
McClure Meadow was beautiful and so green. We got to our first ford at Evolution Creek. I took off my shoes and walked across in my Crocs. The water was about thigh deep where I crossed. Once across I emptied everything from my pants and went back in. I dunked myself twice and it felt great despite the coldness. Ed did the same and used the crossing to clean himself as well. The mosquitoes were unbelievable. You couldn’t stop moving or they got you! (I have at least 20 of the buggers outside my bug net right now).
We dressed and made our way further down the mountain and as we did we passed all kinds of beautiful water falls. At the bottom we crossed the South Fork San Joaquin River and had a mostly flat hike to camp. We planned to go to some hot springs near Muir Trail Ranch but decided to stay here. Yeti, an 68 year old hiker who started May 7th, joined us in camp. Since we’re so low, the bugs are terrible and it is warm. I’m sweating inside my bag but can’t get out due to the bugs. I hope it cools off soon.
The hike was an easy one compared to the last week of hiking. The scenery was great as well. I did not see any wildlife except some sparrows which I haven’t identified.
Scatman 2011- This was a great day compare to yesterday. Yesterday was mostly up, while today was mostly down. I saw many amazing things and was humbled the whole way. Muir Hut was very cool unlike the soft snow on the north side of the pass. The creeks which had plagued our dreams since Kennedy Meadows proved to be simple and straight forward. Though I can see how they could be very dangerous with a heavy snow melt.
Get out there!
You can check out my Appalachian Trail or Continental Divide Trail journals too!
Those crossing are going to be pretty scary this year. Interesting you had snow on the north side of Muir. I don’t recall seeing any. I was there on the summer solstice, so if there had been snow I’d have gotten burned on the underside too!