I slept like a baby last night. 12 hours of uninterrupted sleep next to the river. The sound of the rapids was soothing. People pay money to hear this kind of shit on a CD in their living room. We all slept in knowing today was mostly downhill and flat through the forest. We planned to hike just to the base of Muir Pass and do it tomorrow. This was our second day on dry trail through beautiful forest tunnels, with raging rivers all around us violently fighting to get down the mountain. The water super highway is what it feels like.
We cruised so fast through dry trail after weeks of snow that we already were 3 miles south of our destination by noon. Because of this the group decided to push over Muir Pass and shave a day off the trip. We saw several JMT hikers who told us what conditions were like so we pressed on.
I didn't realize it at the time but the climb to the summit of Muir Pass is long and brutal through frozen snowfields. We slowly made our way up and it was getting late in the afternoon. Climbing from 8,700 ft to 12,000 ft in one day is taxing on the body. But I've never seen so much beauty. I took a boatload of pictures today. Ascending up the summit to the Pass was liking hiking through another planet. Most passes are razor sharp and cleanly divide two separate valleys. Muir Pass sort of snakes around a couple ranges so you can't ever actually see it until you reach it. There is tons of snow up here. It looks like December.
While hiking up, I had a weird moment of existential clarity. I was washed with emotions, a recurring thing for me out here. I have to stop and just stare. Climbing up took every ounce of energy out of me. Not like on Mather Pass, where I was just scared shitless from the steeps, but not exhausted. Muir Pass makes you tired. You want to quit. But everything around you keeps you moving.
On the summit there is the iconic Muir Pass Hut that was built by the Sierra Club in 1930 - before they became a shitty non profit. The weather was so clear and we were soaking wet so we all decided to pile in the hut and stay up here tonight. I've never camped at 12,000 ft with 360 degree views of the beautiful High Sierra. This is the best and most grand of passes. That's why it's named after John Muir.
Hanging out at the hut was fun. Everyone was farting on each other and smelling up the place. I stayed out of the fray. We all piled outside for the sunset and cheered on two JMT hikers who were crazy enough to summit at 7:30pm. It's cold so we have to huddle tonight. Me plus 11 other smelly hikers lined every crevice of the 40 square foot hut for the night. Weird smells and all. Around midnight me and another hiker named Harley got up to take some shots of the Milky Way over the pass. It was so calm and beautiful.