Day 76: 6/23/14, PCT Mile 831.6

Miles hiked: 18.4
Camped at: a little beyond Bishop Pass Trail, with Mad Hatter and 2 section hiker guys who built a wonderful fire (allowed under 10000 feet) to keep the mosquitos at bay!

Mather Pass – check! The ascent was incredibly gradual and even I with gimpy lungs made the 3.5 miles up in well under 3 hours. The descent had a few snow traverses, and boulder scrambles, the worst was once when I couldn’t tell what others had done (not common) so turned around and then saw a way down to the trail. Mad Hatter and I leapfrogged all day, including on Mather, and it was very reassuring to know I wasn’t up there completely by myself. The worst part of the day was the descent called the Golden Staircase – seemed unrelenting but that might have been because I was hungry for lunch and wanted to get to the bottom first. The way down paralled the Palisades Falls, which were gorgeous when visible – they were nearly always audible. I also ran into several trail crew members before the staircase – it was so nice to thank them for their work! Still incredible to me the great condition of the trail considering the remoteness of this area.

The goal today was to get enough miles in that Muir Pass would be doable tomorrow morning, this my highest day in the Sierra yet. Happily the terrain after the staircase until here was rolling hills and much easier at below 10000 feet, despite some exposed areas which were quite hot this afternoon – umbrella to the rescue! Somehow I was convinced I’d catch up to Writer today, and that didn’t happen, but the trail does provide. I really didn’t want to camp by myself, and when I got to this spot the guys were already here and very welcoming. I do like a small group camp experience, especially when there is a legal fire to keep the mosquitos away! If only I could have taken the fire to the bathroom with me. Yep, a nasty skeeter got me right on the bum!

1 year ago today I was in Harper’s Ferry celebrating the psychological halfway point of the AT, with horribly aching feet from a pair of shoes that shall not be named, and a big grin on my face. What a day!

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