Distance hiked today: 22.3 miles / 35.9 km.
After a morning walk through the forest, with leafy trees that I've barely seen so far on trail, we reached Miller Lake for lunch where about 6 other hikers had the same idea. Lounging on the small sandy beach, it was a nice spot. We don't always hit scenic places for lunch/breaks because it usually revolves around daily mileage (wanting to do a certain number of miles before mid-day), water sources, or being out of the wind and sun which usually doesn't involve a view. But the Sierras are pretty scenic everywhere so it's been better than the desert.
A swim was in order, and this lake wasn't even glacially cold despite the snow that still lay on the rocks that rimmed it. Refreshing to rinse off the sweat, although I'm not getting nearly as dirty here as in the desert.
After lunch we had another river crossing too wide to hop, so we took off our shoes and waded across. While we rushed to beat the mosquitoes while getting our shoes back on, another hiker napped contently under a tree, having drenched himself in DEET bug spray with no regrets.
The meadows were wet with snow melt, the trail too muddy to follow sometimes but we tried to stay on it as much as possible to not trample the fragile grasses and plants.
We climbed Benson Pass at 10,107 ft, with minimal snow. The descent was steeper than usual, since the PCT is actually graded as a horse trail and usually has long switchbacks to keep the trail fairly gradual. We shuffled down the steep dirt, which eventually flattened out near a lake that was now flooded. Occasionally the water overflowed onto the trail and we climbed up and around on the rocks.
At the tent site the mosquitoes were crazy. We put on our head nets to set up camp, and had dinner in the tent to escape them.
Total trail mileage: 970.6 miles / 1561.7 km