Day 176 (Oct. 13): Mile 850.2 – 829.6

Marvelous Mr. Muir

Beginning Elevation = 9,250
Ending Elevation = 8,350
Elevation Range = 8,350 – 11,970
Weather: Sunny and clear, high 60°F

Today was a stand out day, as has been this section as a whole it seems. Although, I struggle with the topic of what thee most beautiful section of the PCT is (they all are uniquely amazing I’d say), this stretch today certainly put in the effort to make sure it was a contender. Indeed, prior to starting the trail, I was most excited to see and be in the High Sierra parts…and today I got to experience that.

The elevation/terrain profile for the day was pretty simple. First, climb 11.6 miles and around 2,700 feet up to and through Muir Pass, then decend 9 miles and around 3,600 feet to camp. Here’s how it went down…

It was another 5:55am wake up. This time I got going at 6:55am. I haven’t gone into specifics about temperatures over night recently and that’s because I really have no idea what it’s getting down to. Regardless, for me, I’d say it all fits under the cold category. This morning seemed to be colder than it’s been the past while, which led me into my first pondering of the day…

Does the moon provide us with heat? I know it doesn’t itself, but via reflection of the suns rays? It seemed like it was daylight last night, but toward early morning hours, around 3-5am, it seemed the moon had run its course and disappeared, thus making things dark once again. Curious, I thought, that this correlated with the same hours that I’ve been observing the arctic tundra temperatures within my tent. Maybe this is a known thing that everyone is aware of, but it’s not something that really impacted my life until now, yam saying?

The morning trail was very gradual uphill following Evolution Creek and snuck along the edge of some beautiful meadows…

I would end up seeing 18 deer throughout the course of the day. The first were out in the meadow where they had been the night before, but here’s a group of seven that were just hanging out along the trail. I must be one with nature now because they didn’t seem to be alarmed by my presence. That, or they have been witness to friendly hikers passing by once or twice before.

My breakfast spot was a bit up the trail after leaving the creek and starting the steepest “up” section for the day. I had quite the view…

Prior to setting up to cook, I found evidence of how cold my morning trek truly had been…

And, I suppose, how much of a mouth breather I am…gross.

About a mile and half further on, I came to Evolution Lake. I’d end up cruising along this rad lake for about a mile and a half. The first photos show what I thought was the entire lake, but as I walked ahead I’d learn this was just one cove of it. It curved around and opened up behind a rock structure that blocked my initial view.

I had another herd (aka flock…school…gaggle…gang?) of deer go by me here. The herd was on the move…

I snuck between the lake’s shore and a tall mountain wall. I felt as though I were at the footing of some giant stone fortress…like Helm’s Deep…

Here’s the rest of Evolution Lake…

I experimented with my time lapse feature going forward from here. This first attempt shows the walk from Evolution Lake up to the beginnings of Sapphire Lake…

This second one goes along the shores of Sapphire Lake with Mount Huxley in the background. It’s also at 5x my speed, rather than 10x like the previous video.

I continued along the shore and then up and to the right past Mount Huxley. It was quite bare looking here, a lot of rock and low dry grass, but no trees. It’s really an amazing setting, but not sure if the pictures capture the feel of it…

Next up was Wanda Lake! The water was so clear, I could see down 30 feet or so. It very much reminded me of peering down into the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

I feel now is as good a moment as any to discuss something that I’ve wondered whether has been controversial in the community of those following the Stevie Wonder chronicles… listening to music/podcasts, etc… while hiking. I’m going to go on quite the tangent, so if this is gibberish to you, skip on ahead…

I imagine some might have wondered why I feel the need to do so, shouldn’t being in wilderness be enough!? I had these thoughts towards the beginning of the journey, but lately have not only come to peace with listening to varous audio, but have enjoyed pairing certain music listenings to my particular mood and the terrain and such…

For example, this morning…

I opted to have the music from the movie Gladiator and this is how it played out. First, it’s all instrumenal, which I typically reserve for areas that are especially beautiful and where I don’t want to be distracted and have the music detract from the experience. As I walked by Sapphire Lake, there was a bit of slower tune that seemed to fit the majestic feel perfectly. Then, I began climbing and coincidentally, the music picked up, transitioning into the classic Gladiator theme where I could picture in my head good ole Russ Crowe aka Maximus dancing around in the skirmish in the belly of the Colloseum. Fast, short notes…action music, very fitting to motivate me up the hill.

As I reached the top and the gentle path of Wanda Lake there was another transition. This time, it was an ominous tune, sort of like a, “what’s going to happen?” feeling. And then, looking ahead, I had an unexpected encounter with this guy. Is it White Fang, I wondered? A coyote? A wolf? Is it going to attack me? Or attack a marmot?

The music continued to fit my hiking experience with a series of triumphant music following the “narrow escape” from my coyote encounter and then it ended as I approached the final push up to Muir Pass. The final music was emotional, I believe the long, soft notes from the scene where Russ aka Maximus is walking through the field towards his family.

Ok, my music ramblings are done. It doesn’t always fit as nicely as my Gladiator experience, but sometimes it does. The last stretch up seemed to go on and on and was much steeper than I’d anticipated, but I conquered it…

Muir Pass is marked by the emergency shelter, Muir Hut, which is pretty neat looking….

Here’s my “summit” video…

And my “summit” pose…

“Abby Wambach – Header Upper 90, Muir Pass, 1:00pm”

And here’s a shot looking down on the lakes from the pass…

After a lovely lunch, restful break, and much tooling around at Muir Pass, I began my long walk down. Here’s looking down towards Helen Lake…

And once down closer…

I was pretty dang tired on the way down. Kind of felt like I’d been hiking for the past 6 months or something. It was lovely though. Here’s another lake…

And one of the very few snow patches I crossed over the trail…

Eventually, things transitioned from the grayish rock landscape to more green and colorful again…

I entered into a wonderful canyon with steep walls and a river cascading down within…

Towards the end of my hiking, I was eyeing camp sites using Guthook’s and not seeing many options due to the steep slanted valley. So, around 6:00pm, I spotted a flat-looking rock outcrop as a potential option and went rogue venturing off trail to investigate. As far as flatness, it wasn’t great, and there were lots of small rocks, but in terms of viewage and scenery, it was top notch…

Today’s Music:

Gladiator – Soundtrack

Simon & Garfunkel – The Concert in Central Park (Live)

3 thoughts on “Day 176 (Oct. 13): Mile 850.2 – 829.6

  1. Kevin Kroondyk

    It’s amazing…having spent some time in the Sierra’s myself, just looking at your pictures and videos, I can almost feel the cool, dry air on my face, smell the outdoors and feel the intensity of the sun. It’s a wonderful thing. And the concert in Central Park! Music selection is on point today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ruth Prins

    LOVE that photo of you with frozen bits in your beard!
    Wonderful to see the deer (and coyote?) running freely and without a care in their habitat……looks like a nice life for them.
    LOVED the summit pose, heading that rock. Again, I cannot fathom how you get those photos!
    As in every post, the scenery (and your photographic skills) are beyond amazing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Brian Beach

    Per my last post, this place takes my breath away. Crazy encounter with the wild beast! Glad you stood your ground. That definitely made me nervous. I couldn’t tell what it was…

    And to speak to your question about the moon giving off reflected heat, I haven’t heard this concept before. I did hear it was made of cheese though…

    Like

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