Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Day 60 - wacs835 to South Fork San Joaquin River

On the way up to Muir Pass
What a night. I don't know what time it was, but I started feeling a bit chilly around my neck, so I took my headlamp and searched for my neck buff. It wasn't in the tent. In fact, I noticed that neither were my hat and gloves. I usually take all of those items off as soon as I get to camp, so I figured I just left them outside before setting up my tent, and forgot to take them in.
I wasn't that cold, so I tried to fall asleep again. But something was nagging me - I usually put down my camera along with my hat as well. And I didn't see it in the tent either, when I was looking around earlier. To make matters worse, I didn't want to get outside in fear that I wouldn't be able to zip my bug net again after unzipping it. I was really in a fix.
I tried sleeping, but the thought that my camera might not be out there kept nagging at me, and wouldn't let me sleep. Finally I got up, unzipped the bug net, got outside, and found the hat, the gloves, the neck buff, the camera and even my sunglasses, all laying right where I dropped them, to the side of my tent. I even managed to zip the bug net again after I got back in the tent. Whew.
In the morning, we got up a bit earlier to make good time for the long day, and to get up Muir Pass as early as possible, before the snow melt too much. We left camp at 6:30, which is very impressive for us.
The climb up to Muir was long and hard. We had to find trails to cross streams, and hike around snow covered bits. We also hiked in many snowy sections, some of them were a bit scary.
With Signal and Harmonic Wave up on Muir Pass
From the top, we saw a big frozen lake, the trail was supposed to pass along. The way down to the lake was not steep, but it was even more snow covered. And it was late enough that we post-holed most of the way. We dashed from icy cold slushy snow to small boulder fields, following Idan's lead and his GPS. Finally we reached the lake and found the trail along its banks.
The decent didn't end there. After we started climbing further down from the lake, the snow came back. More post-holing, more boulder hopping and some more creek crossing, and we slowly went further down and away from snow.
After a short break on the shores of Evolution Lake, we headed on down the valley, towards the dreaded ford of Evolution Creek.
It took us about 4 hours to go all the way down to the ford area. Whenever we stopped for a break we were attacked by hordes of mosquitoes. The head net was very useful, and I was happy to discover they can't bite me through my hiking clothes. But it was annoying.
When we got near the ford, we decided we'd take the safer alternative, since it was late in the afternoon. The crossing was rather easy and shallow, even though the water were cold. The trail further down the creek went along some very impressive waterfalls. But sadly, all of our cameras were tucked safely inside our bear canisters, in fear that the fording would be deeper. So no pictures were taken.
We kept on hiking for about 2.5 more miles, getting down to the San Joaquin River. We debated whether we should do 2 more miles today, all in order to make an easier day on the day after tomorrow. But the constant thunders and ominous clouds hanging over us made us decide to camp here for the night, so we won't be caught hiking in the rain.
After setting up camp, we just started boiling water for Idan and me (we just boil a full pot of water, and then pour it into our meal bags for the actual cooking), when the rain finally started. We waited for the water to boil, and then ran to eat inside our tents.
The tents held out OK, and now, an hour later, it seems the rain had stopped. I will head out to get some more water for the night, and go to bad. Tomorrow we go over Selden Pass, and later ford across Bear Creek. I hope the day will be as successful as today.
Update: last night I thought we were near the steel bridge over the river, when in fact we were near the wooden bridge, almost a mile back. Bummer. One more mile for tomorrow.