Sierra High Route – Day 9 (20 miles)
It was a good night. We were expecting it to be cold, but it turned out both warm and dry. We woke up a little bit later than usual this morning as our day will be spent almost entirely on the trail.
We eat breakfast as the sun climbed over Evolution Lake and then set off to Muir Pass 5 miles away.
Early on we spotted a glacial polished slab that was sticking out of the surrounding rocks. We made a detour and began our re-enactment of Simba being presented to the world from pride rock.
Muir Pass is the most gradual climb on the JMT once out of the Evolution Valley. It winds its way up through three huge lakes, and the top is a flat knob with a hut built in the 1930s.
We reached the hut and started to talk to a couple of guys planning their summit attempt of a nearby mountain.
Eventually, I got cold enough to say goodbye and SB and I headed down Leconte Canyon. Th the first section witness its way between small lakes on very shaley ground. Then we turn and head down into the valley proper. The valley has awe-inspiring slick granite ranges on both sides. I think it is my favourite on the JMT.
We stopped about halfway to our turnoff towards Bishop Pass. Here we had lunch and we caught and released some rainbow trout. I’m terrible at fishing but it was fun to give it a go.
After over an hour break we continued down the remaining couple of miles to the junction to Bishop Pass. Here we went to the ranger station. We heard whispers that a storm was approaching. The ranger informed us that this was correct. A bug storm will hit tomorrow and the next day, with snow expected well below the elevation we planned to be.
This gave us plenty to think about. Tomorrow we will be above treeline all day and neither of us wanted to ride out a storm that high.
In the end, we thought to give the next section a try with a couple of contingency plans in place. First, we would go over an extra pass tonight. This will mean we have to go over tomorrow or back one to safety.
As we were discussing our options Furball rounded the corner. I have been running into her all the way up the PCT. I talked with her for a while before she headed to Muir Pass and we headed up to Bishop Pass.
It was a beautiful climb. I would stop and take a photo of the valley we just left behind only to find a better view a little higher up.
We reached the last ledge. The trail to Bishop turned left and we turned right to Knapsack Pass. This pass turned out to be easy. We stayed high and missed all the talus at its foot. We also found a nice riff that we walked almost to the top.
On the other side, we were greeted with the Palisade Range. They are different to what we just left. They seemed older and more worn.
We started down the other side on awful talus. Arriving at the bottom I rolled my ankle. I hit the ground in a bit of pain and looked back to see that a tuff of grass did the damage. Go figure.
We took a 5-minute break for me to recover and then pressed on the few hundred yards to camp.
My ankle was slightly sore but not very swollen. I don’t think I caused any damage but it might be tender for a while.