We finished the descent down to 8000′ this morning, following Palisade Creek downstream, and then started right back up to hit Muir Pass at 11978′, following Middle Fork Kings River upstream. It was another beautiful valley, with tons of waterfalls and lakes and meadows.
The trail wound its way very slowly up to the pass, frequently becoming lost in the snowmelt. When the trail is made of the same stone that the creek next to it is running through, and then water starts running down the trail as well, it’s sometimes hard to distinguish between the two. There was some snow here and there but nothing hard to get through.
Today is the summer solstice, which in the thru hiking world is also Hike Naked Day! We did not see any naked people until we were almost to the pass. Stretch and I heard a yell and looked over to see a naked guy jumping off a cliff into the lake below. We had our own plans and were happy to see at least one other person participating.
We made it up to Muir Pass and the very cool John Muir Shelter there. After checking out the shelter, having a snack, and chatting with the other hikers there, Stretch and Nutella and I started getting naked. We had strategically placed bandanas hanging from pack straps in case of children passing, a few of whom we’d seen this morning.
Lazy Bones came along and asked what we were doing. He had been the guy jumping into the lake and he didn’t even know about Hike Naked Day. He decided to join us and led the group down the pass. All the hikers we passed coming in the other direction were confused and then amused, but we did not see anyone else participating.
We made it down to Wanda Lake and had to jump in. The bottom was rocky so it was more of a stumble-slowly-in-and-then-keep-falling-backwards-as-you-try-to-get-out-of-the-freezing-cold-water kind of jump. The lake was around 11400′ so definitely on the colder side of water I’ve been in.
It was still very warm out, despite it getting later in the evening, so we kept going until the mosquitoes came out. Clothes back on, it was just a few more miles to camp at Evolution Lake. I set up, cooked dinner, and then went with all the other hikers there to an amazing sunset viewpoint next to a massive waterfall. Along the way there, I saw tons of Golden Trout jumping out of the lake water, twenty and thirty at a time.
There were also some very unusual clouds today. I’m told they’re unique to the area and called the “Sierra wave.” I’ll have to look into it more.
19.7 miles today. What a perfect first day of summer!