Wednesday June 4th 2014 (Mile 815)
I slept rather well and I’m soon up and packed, okay Mather pass to do today. I think to myself, it can’t be that bad too go down. I set off down the valley that leads to the pass the trail is covered in snow but I stay to the east of it, I cross my first stream but being early it is not yet raging with snow melt, I pick my way along the trail crossing a field of muck and rock. Mather looming ever nearer, I begin to climb, but being morning the snows crust is much firmer so I’m not yet post holing .At the next water source I camel up and fill my bladder probably too much water but I’d rather have it and not have to stop again
Soon I am at the base of the pass, where the trail makes a sharp left and curves up the mountain. From gut hooks I know that the trail becomes a set of sharp switchbacks that work their way up the vertical face of the rock, I trudge on and soon reach a wall of white, and footprints that cheer me up, people! not sure how far in front but it is foot prints They seem to go straight up rather than the switchbacks, that’s exactly how I climbed forester pass so here we go. I tightened the straps of my pack took a huge slurp of water and set off on the climb adrenaline is pumping through my body come on Snail.
It is mainly scrambling and crawling as make my way up the side of the mountain, my pack feels heavy but I’m doing okay. I follow one set of footprints but as I go higher footprints tend to fan out across the face of the climb. The sweat begins to pour out of my forehead and soon my bandana is soaked ,I’ll stop when it is safe or my jacket will be soaked too
.At last I’m on a firm switchback I remove my pack and sodden jacket wipe the sweat from my face, put on a dry bandana slurp lemonade then I’m off .I’m making good time and the top is getting nearer well I’m hoping that’s it is the top as some of these climbs are deceptive .
At last I am at the top the views are stunning I stop and stare before venturing down the other side .The trail is fairly easy to follow through the immense snowfields dotted with huge boulders and the obligatory melt water stream I need to push on as , as the sun will soon make the snow soft and hard work to cross and the rivers torrents .
I follow the footprints slowly, slow is safe , the snow is firm but slippy so I am moving as quickly as I dare .I’m not post holing yet but I’m not confident at crossing this stuff with my crappy shoes. I heading down towards a load of boulders, thinking to myself that’s must be scary when they fall!!!
I slowly pick my way over, but once across I am greeted with a scree, great I’m not sure what is worse snow or scree , buts it’s not long till I’m wading back through snow still following footprints
Finally I leave the snow behind and begin to pick up speed as I move on unobstructed, although the trail is so mucky. Ping goes my watch yes lunch time I walk on looking for a dry spot to sit then arrive at a gorgeous lake. I find a spot and drop my pack removing my shoes to air my feet and switch to dryish socks before having lunch tortillas, salami and cheese and a glug of lemonade
I hike on through a sunlit forest that then turns into a grassy, flower-filled meadow as I walk I’m joined by a flat, winding stream The sun is now warm and beautiful smells fill the air and in the distance I notice deer grazing this is just perfect
I stop, on the trail, and just look at the flowers and listen to the birds singing and bees buzzing it is if I am in a different land .
I spoke too soon as again I am back in snow fields which seem to stretch for miles.
I wanted to get to Muir pass but the suns beginning to melt the snow making my progress slow and painful as it is peak post-holing I plod bravely into the snow ,soon realising that I was right and this is just mad. Come on Snail lets finds a camp. I hike on till I come to a stream my feet are still fairly dry and want to keep them this way so walk up stream to find a better crossing. Hurrah still dry. But I am now beginning to come across numerous but as I approach the afternoon they are becoming torrents fuelled from melt water.
I spot a group of trees and make my way over, the ground is clear and snow free, perfect. Yes it is early and I could go on but it is better to do these snow crossings in the morning when the snow is hard as post-holing just saps my energy I’m done I say to myself
My tent is soon up and water boiling for my tea. you’re doing okay Snail I say to myself I then eat rice with tuna I feel good and I’m soon snuggled up in my bag night all.