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Separated into different levels, Muir Pass is a sustained 12 mile ascent, and plays like a video game. Each level with its own boss- either snow, or fords, or steep grade, or photo opportunity (the hardest one!). Muir Pass is the last crucible in the High Sierra, the last rocky behemoth standing between you and the tamer passes of the north.
The climb starts easily enough, running next to the Kings River, slowly ascending, then flattening out, ascending, flattening out. Helen Lake, a large chunk of dark, blue water tucked away in a granite cirque, marks the halfway point of elevation gain, and the threshold of the more difficult levels. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Discovering Evolution with John Muir”
Pinchot and Mather: Double Pass Day
Despite Pinchot Pass being named after a man who would have wanted a casino at its summit, it is wild, craggy and untouched. To the northwest, the trail falls away into a tarn filled basin, each gem of azure blue water connected by a swift stream. Pinchot was relatively gentle going up, and just as gentle going down. The blaring reflection of midday sun off of Lake Majorie caused us to shield our eyes as we skirted along its granite shoreline. The trail drops away suddenly and hits the valley of the Kings River, running along the water for several, well graded miles.
Doing two passes in a day is not common. Most hikers will find a natural one pass rhythm, sleeping either low or high, depending on style and preference. There are certainly hikers doing 30 miles per day, but I am not one of those hikers, especially in the Sierra. 15 to 20 miles a day, which most thru hikers consider a ‘hard’ day in the sierra, will get you where you need to go. If you want to camp high, your mornings are spent descending, and your afternoons, ascending. If you want to camp low, well you get the point. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Tales of the Trail – Sierra Edition”
After hiking so many miles, living on the trail becomes second nature. The towns become harsher and more abrasives to the senses, and the speed of conventional travel, culture, and all around general activity seems to teem around you, pushing you back into the calm embrace of nature. In the dust and the rock of the desert, you move not as a human, but as a mammal. You eat for calories sake and you lumber from water source to water source. You become the purest form of human.
This section of trail is nothing like that. In fact, if you can manage the miles, you could walk from house to house, or more accurately, party to party. I have spoken about Hiker Heaven and the Saufleys, a cool place to stay and get down, but still a place that asks for a modicum of decency and responsibility. 28 miles layer, sits Casa De Luna, or the Anderson’s. This hiker haven demands respect and deserves it by all means, but it is safe to say that Terri Anderson is into a little more, dirty fun. Hikers sit around on ratty couches the whole day. I did not move from my seat for 8th hours. All around, hikers laze about in one state of intoxication or another, wearing the trademark uniform of the Casa, an Hawaiian shirt. It is a rougher kind of place than Hiker Heaven, like a biker bar is rougher than just a regular pub. There is the hint of debauchery and danger in the air, held aloft by the rumors, both fantastical and realistic, spread between hikers about this place. And boy, does the Casa De Luna deliver. It is well worth the stop, and we’ll worth the zero you will most likely need the next day. I can best describe it as the Hotel California. You van check out, but you can never leave. Continue reading “Pacific Crest Trail Thru Hike: Aqua Dulce to Tehachapi”