Distance hiked today: 21.2 miles / 34.1 km.
Another day, another pass. Another cold morning, starting our routine of getting dressed, packing up, having a cold breakfast, starting to walk with our warm jackets on, and taking them off a couple miles later when we warm up. Out here, we really are at the mercy of the elements. Cold nights keeping you awake, hot days sucking your energy, the sun relentlessly beating on your face, and the rocks pounding on your feet. It's taxing, and yet the fresh air, panoramic views, and beauty in the smallest of flowers or patches of moss fills the soul.
We got an early start up Mather Pass. Snow covered the switchbacks on the south side, so we followed the footsteps in the snow mostly straight up the pass. The North side was also snow covered and still in the shade, so we put on our microspikes and walked straight down on the icy snow, which is easier than going on a side angle. I felt like a mountain goat, sticking my spikes to the steep incline and walking down what would have otherwise been an icy slide.
This pass had the best view so far, with a big lake stretching down the valley to a dropoff, like an infinity pool. As we walked down closer to it we could see crystal clear to the sandy bottom, where little fish swam about. Marmots sun tanned on the boulders along the shore, keeping an eye on us until we got too close and then waddling away into their caves, or booking it across the open shores up the mountain, their plump and fluffy bums wiggling as they go.
The best thing today though was trail magic: rare, even unheard of in the Sierras on trail since it's too remote. We passed a section hiker (named Sections) who was planning to do trail magic on Muir Pass tomorrow morning, but since we would be ahead of him he gave it to us today: little mini bottles of Fireball. Just enough to warm your insides on a cold morning. We opened them up right then and had a sip, saving the rest for the pass tomorrow.
The mountains just get more and more majestic, and the rivers get bigger. We camped quite high up a few miles before the next pass, ready for an early morning.
Total trail mileage: 835 miles / 1343.5 km