John Muir Trail Trip Report

Day 11

August 30, 2011

Colby Meadow to just after Starr Camp

11.6 miles

Day 11 Profile
JMT Day 11
Day 11
Google Maps Terrain

Up at 6:45, hiking at 7:30
44 for the low last night
Tons of condensation on the inside of my tent last night. It was a pain getting the tent wiped down, and some of the water wound up on me and my sleeping bag. Bag is treated so no big deal, but it was not fun.

The hike from Colby Meadow to Wanda Lake was beautiful. On the way I passed by Evolution Lake and Sapphire Lake, which were also gorgeous. I stopped at Wanda Lake and took a long break. I sat by the water’s edge, and just soaked in the beauty and serenity. I was the only human being in this incredibly amazing valley.

Evolution Valley
  Sunrise looking back at Evolution Valley
Evolution Lake
  Evolution Lake
Rock trail
Trail like this is hard on the ankles!

Sapphire Lake
Outlet from Sapphire Lake
  Sapphire Lake
  Sapphire Lake

Unfortunately, the rest of the day went downhill from there. Not literally, since I had a LOT of uphill left to go to get to the top of Muir Pass. I guess it was a combination of my being tired, hitting a pass at the end of the day, and that the topography was less than inspiring. The trail turned rocky, the terrain barren and desolate, and the view from the top of Muir was not one of the best. The only cool thing about Muir was the hut at the top. I did meet Noah and Katie on the top of the pass, and it was fun to see them again. There was a large group of mountaineers on the top of Muir. They were going cross-country. Amazing athletes. You should have seen them scramble to the top of the Muir Hut. Like trail monkeys.

Wanda Lake
  Outlet from Wanda Lake
Muir Pass
  Just before Muir Pass
Muir hut
Muir hut

I thought that the South side of the pass would be like the other passes I had crossed. Easy, downhill trek where I would make great time. Not so! I finally found the snow fields everyone had been warning about. The snow was no longer a big deal, but it did slow me down. The real issue was the trail itself. By far the worst section of trail on the JMT. Rocky, rough trail. I turned my ankle 4 times, lost the trail 3 times (only partly due to snow), and fought the water for the right to use the trail (the water won). In some sections, the trail was totally consumed by the stream, and in one spot the stream became a raging river complete with waterfalls. I had to scramble on the side of the mountain to try to get around the stream dominated trail. None of this was really all that difficult, but it did take extra time and was not fun after an already long day. My planned goal was to camp near 'Starr Camp'. I had thought maybe I would do extra miles after descending Muir Pass, but by the time I got to Starr Camp I was beat, so I stopped at the first level site after the Muir Pass descent and made camp. After I made camp, a guy stumbled down the trail. It was getting dark, so I told him he could share my site. Jim took me up on the offer and we chatted for a bit as he setup camp. Nice guy.

South side of Muir Pass
  Hard trail on South side of Muir Pass
Starr Camp
  Starr Camp
Marie Lake
Campsite above Middle Fork of the Kings River

First third of today was one of the best of the trip. Last 2/3 not so much. Tomorrow should be at least an easier day. I only have 11 miles planned, but I think I will push it and get a little more miles in. That way I have fewer miles the day after when I climb the Golden Staircase and Mather Pass. We will see how I feel... my ankles are in a bit of pain from the rough trail and turning they did today.

One of the things I heard about doing the JMT is that there are likely to be days when it gets hard mentally, as well as physically. Today I found out what they were talking about. I was dirty, tired, in some pain, and it was an exercise in discipline to stay focused and overcome the negativity that was starting to influence my attitude. It always helps to put things into perspective. Would I rather be sitting at my desk at work, or here?? Easy answer...
Despite the tough day today, I am in good spirits and would rather be here than just about anywhere else.

Previous Day
Next Day
Previous day
Next day

Videos from Day 11

Additional pictures from Day 11