There was a lot of downhill from Evolution Lake today. After a few miles, I saw a cabin off to the side of the trail and went to check it out. It turned out to be the McClure backcountry ranger station. Fixie was sitting outside talking to the ranger so I joined them, and Stretch soon walked up too. I am always fancinated by the jobs where you get to live in the backcountry for months on end. The ranger told us how he got the job, lots of cool ranger stories, and he gave us each an orange! It was so appreciated, especially since I know he carried them in himself at least fifteen miles, the minimum distance for him to get to a trailhead.
He also mentioned that he’d be going up to Muir Pass tomorrow because it’s the 80th anniversary of the shelter being built and they’re having a celebration there. A little while later, I passed a group headed up with lots of cameras and one guy carrying a cello on an external frame pack. I talked to the cellist and he said he’d be performing at the pass. They didn’t seem to have much other gear but I soon saw two cowboys leading strings of pack horses up the trail too and they said they had everyone’s gear and were taking it to Evolution Lake. I seriously considered turning around and going back up with them, but I don’t have enough food, and I don’t want to reclimb what I’ve already done.
I had my first water ford today, at Evolution Creek. Apparently in normal water level years, it can be chest high. Today it was only knee high, and moving fairly gently. I took off my pant legs, socks, gaiters, and insoles to keep them dry, but still forded in my shoes. They dry out slightly quicker if I put dry socks and insoles back into them.
I followed the South Fork San Joaquin River for a while downstream and it was gorgeous. When I got to Piute Creek for lunch, I took a quick dip to cool down before eating. All of this water was followed by a supposedly dry stretch.
Southbound JMT hikers were warning us that there were seven miles of trail coming up with no water. That’s completely laughable considering how far I went between water sources in the desert, but it was also untrue. There were three great water sources in those seven miles, including a waterfall!
I eventually made it back uphill to Sallie Keyes Lake to camp. Everyone was already in their tents when I got there due to the mosquitoes. I quickly set up my tent, got water, and then contorted myself in order to get in the tent while opening the zipper the least amount possible to avoid letting mosquitoes in. 19.2 miles today.