Miles: 18.07
Camping: Muir Hut on Muir Pass PCT mile 838.55
Elevation: 11,974

I woke up in the middle of the night and looked out of the mesh ceiling of my tent. There were more stars than I could fathom, and I lay there just looking in awe. I really have a hard time getting my head around the infinite beauty in this world and just on this trail. It is awe inspiring.

Upon waking up for the day, I watched the sun go through its morning routine of touching upon the world, inch by inch. I made coffee, ate a trail bar and made my way back to the trail before Pockets was even awake. We wanted to get just below Muir Pass today so we could go over in the morning. The seed had been planted, however, to stay in the hut on the pass to watch the sunset and sunrise. We figured we would see how the day went.

The day started out as magical as ever. I climbed down a steep cliff via switchbacks, as a lush valley opened up below me. Everything was teeming with life, even the mountains as they burst forth in giant waterfalls. The mosquitoes were rather hellish, so I kept moving down lower into the magical world of the Sierra without stopping. There were so many different plants and trees today. I stopped and enjoyed the different varieties, including groves of Quaking Aspen. I learned that if you stand real still amidst the shimmering leaves and close your eyes, the trees will whisper their secrets to you.

As has become common, we followed a rushing river for most of the day. It was raging forth in places, placid and serene in others. Sometimes it meandered through a grassy meadow, other times through rugged cliffs and giant boulders. The constant sound of flowing water, along with the songs of the birds and the secrets of the Aspens made up the soundtrack of today. I also spent some time enjoying the company of 3 deer who I periodically found grazing on the trail ahead. It was fast becoming my favorite day on trail.

The day was hot so I sought a spot to take lunch where I could get in the river. There was a great spot about halfway to the pass, so I made myself comfortable there. The water was a bit swift, so I got in thigh deep and washed myself in the cold flow without giving up my footing to the current. This cooled me down tremendously, though temporarily. I made lunch of noodles and veggies with jerky, and lounged a bit with my toes in the river.

After lunch I was surprised I had yet to see Pockets. I walked a bit slower with the idea of making it over the pass today. It was easy walking, and we would save a lot of time if we got some extra miles in today. My idea is to skip VVR (Vermilion Valley Resort) and head straight to Mammoth. This will put us out here for a whole week without the luxuries of town, and I love the idea. The only issue would be food. As I pondered the option of a 3 mile hike to Muir Trail Ranch to raid the hiker box, I came upon some folks out for a 4 day backpacking trip. We got to talking, and wouldn’t you know, they had too much food! They offered to give us some, which would make it possible to stay out here longer. Pockets still hadn’t appeared, so I waited to consult with her. I found a neat campsite with stone chairs and waited in the shade until she arrived. She was fully on board with my plan, and we aquired fresh provisions from our new, wonderful friends. They were happy to give up the weight, and we were happy to save time and money on a side trip to VVR.

We also decided to get to the hut on the pass and stay there tonight. The trail up was by far my favorite hike so far. I’m running out of adjectives to describe it all. It’s simply Wonderland. We hiked through snow, around lakes, across many streams and up boulders to the quaint hut on top of the pass. Here we met Dan, an 80 year old attempting the John Muir Trail, though he is ready to quit, as it is too much for him. He’s competed in Ironman before and looks the part! Good on him for attempting this hike, and especially making it this far! Go Dan!

We watched the sunset over the mountains and are now curled up on stone benches in the hut. Time to sleep in order to catch the sunrise…though I continue to wonder how tomorrow could ever follow today.

Muir Hut