Mile 811.3 to mile 832.4 (21.1 miles, 34km)
An early start was greeted by some friendly deer early on in the day.
Easy crossing over Mather Pass. The approach was fairly much snow free but lots
of snow down the other side. Several sections sections were really steep. Micro spikes required for a fair portion of the descent and ice axe at the ready. The actual trail disappeared under snow multiple times. It was a case of choose the best line down the snow to pick the trail up again.
Once off the snow the lower valley was gorgeous. Picture perfect. Meadows with stunted trees looking like manicured gardens. Alpine lakes. The deepest indigos and the brightest turquoise coloured the lake in the sun light. Plenty of trout waiting patiently at the mouths of stream entering the lake in their hunt for insects fallen into the water.
The exit out of the valley was painful. The lake outflow tumbles downhill in a series of waterfalls, the trail following the river down hill along the longest switch back section encountered thus far built straight into a cliff wall. It would have been a mile of trail to 200m horizontal distance gained but loosing 300m in height. Another engineering marvel really. The sheer amount of hand work to build trail in these areas all those years ago astounds. Lots of grunt work for sure. And they take horses up and down this section – crazy.
The switch back descent was hard. When ever these things are built they make the rock steps way too high and it jolts on the knees either up or down, in this case down. At the bottom it was time for some lunch.
Pushing on I made it to the Middle Fork King River just after 2pm. This was my initial stopping point for the day with 14 miles in but it was way too early and the site wasn’t particularly appealing so to make tomorrow’s crossing of the Muir Pass a little easier I pushed on for about 5.5 miles to the where the mountain starts to kick up to ascend to the pass.