Day 52 – the most difficult of all the passes

I started the day by incorporating my alarm into my dream. It was going off for 4 minutes before I woke up. In my dream I had all sorts of random people trying to help me stop the noise. 

Eventually we left camp and I walked the remaining descent we didn’t complete yesterday with Growler. 

Then it was the start of the epic ascent. 4100ft of up to Muir pass, cited to be one of the most difficult passes on the trail (more elevation gain than Whitney!!). The trail was varied, long and winding, steep in places, pleasant in others. Amazing views with every step. We walked along the river – it’s so nice to hear the rushing of the water. 

            

I had in my head we would be there by 2. We were on track until we hit the snow! My legs were in intense pain today – after the last couple of days of post holing through the snow in shorts, the backs and fronts of my lower legs were all scratched up from the ice and snow, they sting when anything touches them, even the air. So I stopped to put my long legs on before going through the snow today. 

There are lots of JMT people coming the other way, some of them speak, most of them don’t! At one point I found myself on the wrong side of the river with the trail on the other side. I was post holing through snow when I didn’t need to be! I got annoyed and just waded across the fast flowing river up to my thighs. My feet were going to get wet in the snow anyway! 

      

One I had caught up to Cool Breeze and Growler we manoeuvred through the snow together which was long and arduous. At one point we moved half a mile in an hour!! So much snow, so much laughter. Growler got stuck in the snow and performed a very well executed drop and roll to get to the safety of the rocks. Cool Breeze and I broke through the snow into a river which was freezing (and not funny) and we squelched our way to the top. I’m so glad Cool Breeze was there as he cut steps for us and made the whole journey and route finding so much easier – ie, I didn’t have to think about it at all, he did all the hard work! 

              

I got stuck in the snow, my whole leg sunk and my toes slammed into and then got wedged under a rock, my other leg was bent underneath me. Had a little panic as I couldn’t move anywhere. Cool Breeze came and dug me out!

After what felt like an eternity the hut came into view. The John Muir shelter was built in 1931 in honour of the man himself and can be an emergency shelter for hikers. We got there at 3:30ish and stayed in the hut for a while because it was warmer than it was outside (although it did smell a bit like wee). 

  
  



A couple arrived in the hut who were going south, we stayed and chatted for a bit, then it was time for the descent. We couldn’t see the trail so we went from rock pile to rock pile trying to avoid as much of the snow as possible. Although a nicer option than the snow the rocks can sometimes be precarious! 

We had lots of river and stream crossings today, you spend the morning being really careful about where you put your feet and in the afternoon you just wade right through as your feet any get any wetter! 

      

We walked to a planned camp site but it was really windy, an icy wind. I just wanted to stop and take my shoes off but Cool Breeze wanted to push on another .9 miles. I was not happy, I had a little strop because my body just wanted to stop. But we carried on and the camp site was amazing, so beautiful and serene, not windy at all – ok I’ll give you this one Cool Breeze! 

  

There was just about enough time to collect water and eat and change clothes before it got dark and very cold and we retired to our tents. At 10779ft it’s going to be a cold night but I’m prepared with my gloves on my feet! 

Muir pass is definitely the most difficult of all the passes so far, tomorrow we see what Selden pass brings…

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