17.1 miles (Miles 830.5 – 847.6)
Kings River (middle fork) – Evolution Creek
Today. It was my favorite day on the PCT so far. Strong words, I know, but it’s true. It was as hiker’s holiday, it was fun, challenging, indescribably beautiful, there were river fords, climbs, descents, snow fields, marmots, deer, tears of joy, and a full-on spiritual moment. So much happened!
I don’t know how to even break it down into a cohesive blog entry. I’m really struggling to find justified words to describe what I’m seeing. So I guess I’ll start with the simple and straight-forward stuff first.
At camp this morning, we had deer visit us – we counted five of them, including one six-pointer in velvet. We quickly discovered why they came in so close to us, too. Every spot where one of us had peed – that’s what they were after. Crazy salt-fiends! We also unfortunately awoke to find out that Mr. Green was sick. Throwing-up sick, too. I felt so bad for him I wanted to cry. He was still bundled in his hammock when we left. I sure hope he’s feeling better and we see him catch up to us soon!
So today is the summer soltice, but in thru-hiker terms, it’s also known as naked hiking day. I don’t have any idea who started it, but it’s been around for a while. I saw a few brave, full-on nude hikers, and one guy in his boxer-briefs. Most people that talked of participating were going to rig up bandanas that could quickly be dropped over privates in case they came upon someone that would be uncomfortable… but I don’t know if that would help anyway… I mean, if you’re naked, you’re just naked. I thought hard about whether or not to do it. I have insecurities about such activities, but then again, I’m in the woods among awesome, down-to-earth people that would certainly support such shenanigans. How brave did I get? Fifteen minutes-worth… and that’s all I could do. But I was proud of myself for letting go of those insecurities, even if only for a short while.
Tears and I stopped for a swim on our way up to Muir Pass. It was a small, unnamed lake, and it was take-your-breath-away ice cold. We jumped in, swam as fast as we could to shore and got out to dry in the sun. We sat there for a while and watched three cycles of frog life along the shoreline. Giant tadpoles, pollywogs, and full-grown frogs swam around in front of us.
We had several river crossings, and one was even mighty enough to warrant unclipping my hipbelt and sternum strap (in case I were to fall in I can wiggle out of my pack easier), wade through in my shoes, take it slow and make sure I had my three points of contact the whole time. There were several other crossings that weren’t quite so dramatic – mostly just fun rock-hopping or log-balancing.
Our day hiking basically consisted of climbing our way to the Muir Pass summit, then working our way back down to the next valley to camp. The scenery we were in during that time, though… amazing perfection. There were a few times that I just stopped in my tracks and looked all around. I couldn’t even take a photo because it was all-encompassing. The beauty was everywhere. It was so pretty that I didn’t notice aches and pains, and I almost didn’t want to get to the summit – I wanted to keep going around each corner with something different and even more pretty. When I finally saw the Muir hut on the summit, I cried a little of happiness anyway. Muir pass. Wow. When we left there, we found it was the same down the other side – prettier and prettier as we went.
John Muir once said, “the mountains are calling and I must go.” I’m so glad the mountains called me, too. And I’m glad I went… because here I am!
I’ll just toss in a few more shots from today. It’s the best way I can show it for now. There’s just too much perfect detail to explain. We’d be here forever!
My spiritual moment today, in a nutshell, had me feeling fluid with my surroundings – I could almost sense the care and love God put into the creation all around me, and I thought to myself, “I’m His creation, too.” That was the moment I felt like I was exactly where I wad supposed to be. Right here in these mountains, and in life.
Wow, what a day.
One random weird thing from today: we saw one lonesome seagull floating down below on a small mountain lake above 10,000 feet. I’m thinking he got lost, then realized what a magical place he ended up in, befriended some marmots and decided to stay. Smart little bugger, right?
Tonight I love John Muir, an inspirational, true mountain man, who knew exactly what to write to describe these places. He was also a Christian who appreciated nature as God’s creation.