Kings River Camp (811.4) to Grouse Meadow Camp (828.3) via Mather Pass
From my first steps out of camp in the morning I knew I felt stronger and more energetic than yesterday. KC, Outland and I followed the trail through the meadows, pine forests, across streams and eventually to the alpine areas above the treeline. Our goal was Mather Pass, at 12037 feet.
Mather Pass is 12037 feet. The climb over Mather Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail or Jon Muir Trail is one of the toughest and longest days on the trail. We hiked over 16 miles with 1000s of feet of elevation gain and loss for the day.
The 3 of us arrived at Mather Pass just after 10am. We absorbed the views of the peaks, lakes and valleys from whence we came and studied the landscapes ahead. It was 11am when the last of our ragtag crew of hikers stumbled to the top of the pass. The descent was a combination of slushy snow and rock until the trail finally revealed itself.
Once down from Mather Pass the scenery was better than any I have seen so far. To the west of the pass were jagged snow covered spires. Avalanche debris littered the lower slopes. Past the spires were glacial carved valleys, the rocks polished smooth. Below was a clear blue alpine lake. I spotted hundreds of trout in the lake, one of the small streams was crowded with trout. This lake was stunning, I could have easily set up the tent and stayed for several days.
I continued down the golden staircase into the u shaped valley. Again the views of the mountains were stunning. The valley slowly crowded in with shrubs then trees until we made our camp in the pleasant Grouse Valley. Deer and Bears were in the valley. Mrs Smith went for a toilet break near camp only to find herself 5 yards away from a Bear. They looked at each other then went their separate ways! The bear seemed unconcerned but Mrs Smith was.
For the first time on the hike we had a campfire. All very social, except when I went to bed early. Sleep should come easily tonight.