Campsite at mile 140.4 elevation 8035 ft to Evolution Lake elevation 10874 ft
This morning I’m up and ready before Luke and get going knowing he will quickly surpass me. I make it to Grouse Meadow and am glad we chose to camp early…the campsite was crowded. About a mile afterwards I see some rustling near a tree and think to myself there must be some deer behind it. I’m within 20 feet of this tree so I slow my pace to allow it to pass the trail. Many people who know me understand that I often mistake out sight deer for bears. Well to my surprise and for the first time ever what I thought was a few deer ended up being to most magnificent black bear I have ever seen. It was coat was as black as night with a perfectly tan snout. It came from behind the tree to the trail, jaunted about 5 feet up the trail before moving up the hill to graze of some type of tree that smelled like a combination of popcorn and feet. I was able to snap a picture of it in these bushes. For the next several miles I felt completely giddy. When Luke caught up, he said he too saw the bear.
The trail continues to proceed upward regaining most of the elevation lost yesterday. I had to take an hour or so break due to tummy upset and blame the power bars. Afterwards I’m feeling good and decide to challenge myself and see how many 100 paces (for me every two steps is a pace) I can string together. The longest is 15 and I find that I quickly have made to Helen Lake…after an unexpected detour as there are a lot of “trails” once I get to river crossing and take the wrong trail up.
The trail up to Muir Pass becomes one of favorites, the grade is steep with sections of flat for active rest breaks, Helen Lake and outlets are beautiful and offer refreshing hydration, and the views are wonderful.
About a mile and a half to the pass I start to notice dark clouds lingering over Muir pass and the clouds on the periphery moving together. The Sierra is notorious for afternoon thunderstorms and I become worried. I push hard to make the summit and when I arrive there is only a southbound couple there. I ask them to take my picture at the hut and record a quick video of the inside and skidattle.
The clouds continue to darken and winds pick up. I know Luke has been waiting for me, longer than normal due to stomach upset I had early on that he had no clue I was experiencing. So I push on, stopping only to pee and make a peanut butter and Nutella tortilla wrap and eat while walking. I cross paths with a couple going uphill who ask if I was eating chocolate…why yes…I then ask why…guess it’s all over my face, oops! I find Luke sitting by a rock waiting. I need and request to have a seated rest break, but he declines. I can tell he is ready to roll having had to wait for me in an sun exposed area so I continue on.
Just before Evolution Lakes I know that I’m done for the day and we start looking for campsites…Luke is openly hoping to hike more after we eat but I just can’t…walking 11 miles up and over a pass without a physical rest wiped me out. He sees this, but thinks I’m upset…but I’m just exhausted.