Day 50 (20180519): 812.96-833.57

Today we were passing Mather Pass which is considered one of the most difficult on the trail. We had camped pretty much as close as possible to the pass to make climbing the pass easier.

Early morning hiking between the snow patches

Early morning hiking between the snow patches

We got started around 0600 to hopefully hike most of the day on good snow. To our horror we discovered that the snow has not frozen during the night and we started post holing straight away.

Everyone is struggling in the snow conditions and stream crossings

Everyone is struggling in the snow conditions and stream crossings

The sun is starting to show itself behind the surrounding mountains.

The sun is starting to show itself behind the surrounding mountains.

The post holing was periodic and in some places absolutely horrible. Luckily the snow did improve some on the way to the pass and for most of the time we were able to walk on the snow. On the way to the pass we meet a Swiss hiker Phoenix who seemed strong and was hiking alone.

Looking back at Avocadoo and Sensei moving across the snow towards Mather Pass

Looking back at Avocadoo and Sensei moving across the snow towards Mather Pass

Once we got closer to the pass we could see the impressive southern face of the pass which was very steep. Once we got to the pass we chose to go pretty much straight up to the first switchbacks in the snow instead of following the trail. This proved very tough and following the trail would probably have been better. The snow was very soft and this made progress slow and exhausting.

The impressive Southern face of Mather Pass

The impressive Southern face of Mather Pass

After trying a few of the snow switchbacks I decided that climbing the rocks was better and I made much better progress that way. The rest of the way I switched between crossing snow and scrambling up rocks.

Climbing up the pass was quite the task and a few different strategies were employed

Climbing up the pass was quite the task and a few different strategies were employed

The view from the top was impressive but as always too quickly we had to start our descent to try and have as good snow as possible.

The views from the top of Mather Pass were amazing

The views from the top of Mather Pass were amazing

Initially going down was easy as you could plunge step on your heel to descend quickly. As we progressed further we started the same intermittent post holing which gets really annoying.

We made slow progress but finally started seeing more and more of the trail. There was still lots of snow to cross and navigation was a challenge both in staying on the trail and in finding the most efficient way down.

Lovely lake on the way down from Mather Pass

Lovely lake on the way down from Mather Pass

Close to 10000 ft in elevation we reached a rock with an amazing view where we had lunch. From this vantage point we could see a valley with hardly any snow which was a welcome sight. Also the trail down looked mostly snow free.

Our lunch spot with an absolutely amazing view of the snow free valley

Our lunch spot with an absolutely amazing view of the snow free valley

From here on out there were only few snow patches. I hiked down with Phoenix who would be leaving the trail over Bishop Pass to resupply.

We had agreed on the camp for the day so I agreed with Avocado that I would hike on to the camp. There was a bit of climbing but it was generally easy hiking. The weather changed all the time with both rain and hail.

Some of the snow free trail showed signs of avalanche damage

Some of the snow free trail showed signs of avalanche damage

When I arrived I waited quite a bit for Avocado and Sensei. When Avocado arrived he told me Sensei had stopped with some others earlier. This made me very sad since I did not want to split Avocado and Sensei up. I had already agreed with myself as I was hiking on alone that I would make an effort to not hike ahead for the rest of the Sierra.

Hopefully we will meet Sensei tomorrow so we can see what he wants to do. It might be for the best if I just hike on alone. I have generally pushed the pace a bit to try and keep us to the plan we agreed upon. It can be difficult to hike in a group when I seem to hike faster than most of the people I meet.

Hopefully tomorrow the snow is good so we can do Muir Pass without too much trouble. After the pass it is quite a few miles before we descend in elevation but eventually we do get quite low so we should have some snow free hiking tomorrow.