Day 14: In Which We Decide Muir Pass is Really Cool and the Deer Will Lie Down with the Green One

Daily: 11.4 miles
Trip: 136.9 miles
Camp: Bishop Pass Trail

Yesterday’s suffering is today’s early start. That means we get to enjoy one of the most iconic points of the JMT without interruption. Ignoring the ice on our tents in the morning, gearing up against the high-20° temps, packing up and walking. It’s worth it. The Muir Pass Shelter is a round, rock building sitting on a ridge overlooking rock valleys. It’s stark and I love it.

We started with the gentle climb up 12,000 foot Muir Pass. That’s not true. I started by hiking out of camp ten minutes before my brother. Than I stopped and went looking for a place to take care of business. Those lovely, clean solar privies of Yosemite are far behind us. Up here it’s all rock. When’s the last time you dug a cathole (6 inch deep ideally) in rock? I had almost as much luck, bending my snow stake/trowel while levering a rock out from among the other rocks & dirt. The good news was that, despite there being no shelter anywhere, there were also no other people up here. The other good news was that I had a nice view!


Green One caught up with me as I returned to the trail and we climbed past 3 lakes before reaching the pass. If the weather were threatening, I might have a different opinion of the area and understand why it warrants a storm shelter. But it’s 60° and sunny. It’s awesome. Go see it.

And that was the end of our climbing for the day! We descended on a huge range of trail surfaces past all kinds of waterfalls. At first the trail dropped slowly, then we plummeted down Leconte Canyon, past crashing falls.

Finally we wandered past Big & Little Pete Meadows and hit our campsite around 3pm. Have I mentioned I like early campsites? We set up tents, letting the ice (now water) dry out. I got a very much needed sponge bath out of my bear can. We met the local rangers who were returning to their station only a couple hundred feet away. I thought it was really neat that the ranger’s wife and daughter were able to stay in the shelter with him. His supervisor and a friend were there as well. Then it was time to eat, drink, eat, and play Scrabble. I won this time and tied up the series. Not only that but the Packit Gourmet Gumbo is excellent!

We talked to a guy trying to hook up a friend’s friend with a resupply (he missed him). And Susan and Marina, the two 70+ year-old hikers, came in late and joined us at our campsite. Nice to get to know them and inspiring as all hell to know they’re doing a 120 mile hike at their age.

Coolest part of the afternoon was when a deer came within a few feet of my brother and hung out with us for a while. I learned later that a deer was feeding a couple fawns just a few feet from Green One’s tent at dusk. Not only that, but G.O. got up at night and found a deer bedded down just five feet from his tent!

Day 15: In Which We Climb the Golden Staircase But Don't Find the Hidden Pot of Rainbow Trout