Date: Monday, 11 September 2017
Start: Camped near Muir Trail Ranch, 1.8 miles from Mile 857.7, 7694 ft
Finish: Camped by the trail at Mile 874.5, 9874 ft
Daily Miles: 16.8 PCT
Total PCT Miles: 2195.2
Weather: Mild and sunny in the morning, with occasional thunderstorms and rain in the afternoon and evening.
Breakfast: Cliff bars and Snickers
Dinner: Chicken noodle soup, rehydrated chicken & dumplings.
Aches: Nothing new.
Highlight: The alpine lakes and forest approaching Selden Pass were exquisite.
Lowlight: None really.
Pictures: Click here
I enjoyed my sleep in and was waiting at the gate of the Muir Trail Ranch for when they opened at 8:00am. Inside, I found a long row of plastic drums labelled with the kinds of food/gear that hikers had left for others to use. I scrounged around and found some food for an evening meal and some snack bars for the day. After chatting to a few hikers, I set off just before 9:00am on the long climb up to Selden Pass (10910 ft) within sight, for the first couple of hours, of four trail riders/fishermen (who had been staying at the ranch) and their guide as they rode up the same trail. With the spells the guide gave the horses, I was pretty much travelling the same pace and was held up several times. Finally, I took my morning break and let them get ahead. Later, I saw them fishing in two of the alpine lakes approaching the pass. It would be a nice vacation, but I’m guessing the day’s outing would have cost several hundreds of dollars each.
Perhaps it was the snacks, or the good night’s sleep, but I really enjoyed the last part of the climb up to the pass. The first hours were relentless steep switchbacking trail up the side of a mountain, but at the higher elevations the grades were gentle and the forest beautiful, with the final mile or two up a series of rocky bluffs. The pass itself gave fabulous views over wild alpine country, mostly rocky crags and lakes but while I was there it began to spit with rain, and a thunderstorm passed by as I descended the northern side, past some of the lakes.
Soon the trail was back in the forest, but it was still wet and cold, and I felt sorry for those hikers I saw heading up to the pass, some already looking pretty miserable. However, I still got to “enjoy” the ford of Bear Creek, which required switching to my running shoes, and on the advice of a hiker crossing from the other direction, kept them on for another mile to a second ford, which annoyingly I could have easily managed in my boots. Sploshing along in cold wet sockless insole-less running shoes carrying a pack on sometimes rocky trail was no fun.
From there I walked until 7:00pm when I found a camping site beside the trail as the ominous sounds of thunder came nearer. I quickly got the tent up and things stowed away as the rain arrived, and later ate my dinner sheltering under a tree as the rain intensified. Some things got a bit damp, but generally my gear stayed dry. I didn’t get as far as hoped today, with the late start, long climb to the pass and time lost at the fords. I’ll try and get further tomorrow, thougb I have another pass to cross, in the hope of having a shorter day on Wednesday, the day I plan to get to my next resupply at Mammoth Lakes.