PCT: Day 244: Muir Pass: Day 1

Direction: Southbound
Trail location: 1813
Cumulative miles hiked 2019/2021: 2470
Cumulative miles hiked 2021: 453
Miles hiked today: 11.59
Elevation: 11454
High/low temp/humidity: 60/39/60
Spinning on the turntable: George Harrison: Let it roll

Today is a climbing day. I’m heading up towards Muir Pass. This is the first time on this part of the journey that I’m really, really excited to be headed up a hill. It’s a big hill. It’s a 20 mile hill. It’s a 12,000 foot hill. Yet, at the top of the hill resides Muir Pass and Muir hut. Muir Hut, in my mind, symbolizes the PCT. When I think of the PCT, I think of Muir Hut.

Warming water for my morning oatmeal

I recognized last night that I’m eating too much food. I brought out 1.5X normal sized portions, but I could easily eat 3.0X sized portions. This isn’t a great sign. I can’t chow down through all my food too quickly. I have another week to go before I resupply. I’m just going to need to be a little hungry and moving forward. It’s the same ole discussion we’ve had before; hike faster and carry less food, or hike slower and carry more food. I’m content to stick to roughly 12-14 miles per day. We’ll see how this plays out.

..And so today I climbed up…and up…and up…

As I’ve begun to cross over more and more streams, I’m acutely aware of how fortunate I am to pass over them in the summer when the weather is warm and the water levels are low. So far I’m doing OK keeping my feet dry. It’s really hard to imagine this portion of the hike in the snow and ice. It’s interesting though; when I talk with locals about PCT thru-hikers, most will say something like “I really admire them, they’re a little crazy, they’re committed…” When I’ve pushed a few folks a bit further, I think, perhaps, just under the skin, is the impression that a lot of the thru-hikers are idiots to try to pass through these mountains during heavy snow years. Just my impression, so I could be wrong. So far, I’ve experienced nothing that would convince me to try this myself during a high snow year. No thanks!

How many points do you see?

This fellow was by far the largest buck I’ve seen this year. It’s amazing how well he blends into the surrounding flora and fauna.

I passed an older hiker, perhaps in his mid-70’s this afternoon at Evolution lake.

He didn’t look so great. In fact, he looked exhausted. To me, he symbolized perfectly what I’ve observed in so many of the JMT hikers that I’ve seen recently; grossly overfilled backpack. Grossly. I paused for a moment and asked him how it was going, but didn’t stick around too long. He didn’t seem like he was having a heart attack, nor did he seem like he needed help with a spreadsheet, so my support options were a bit limited. I hope that I’m out hiking in my mid-70’s, but with a day pack.

Still climbing

I opted to camp for the night at Wanda Lake, around 11500 feet elevation. In the image on the right you can see my bear canister snuggled in for the evening. I’m guessing there were five other campers within the same area.

I was a tad bit surprised at one point when I was cooking dinner. I looked over at my camp mates and one of the fellows, perhaps mid-60’s, was buck ass naked washing himself. Once again, I was a bit surprised by someones nakedness. It’s just strange to me, this business of older male hikers stripping off their clothes. It’s not a men’s locker room. On one hand I’m kind of like, well, they’re just comfortable with themselves. On the flip side, I’m curious if it’s a subconscious “boys club” kind of thing. I don’t see the females stripping down outside their tents to cleanse themselves at night.


  1. Heidi Halverson

    Would you feel more comfortable if said make hiker asked your permission before getting naked? I’m thinking it’s a free country. Away from regular civilization and normal activities there’s more leeway. I’ve heard of ppl stripping down to birthday suit to change clothes in the midst of an Ironman triathalon.

    I read about heather Anderson who wore a skirt with no underwear so she could pee on the trail without squatting and messing with her pack or underwear in the interest of saving time. She achieved unassisted FKT on the PCT. I m not sure it’s fair to judge another from doing what makes sense in the moment.

    Now that being said – taking a dump in the middle of the trail or campsite is whole different animal.

    • mcgarveysan

      Thank God I haven’t seen anyone taking a dump in the middle of a trail!


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