Woke at midnight to a soggy bivy. I thought I had picked a reasonably dry spot for cowboy camping, but evidently not. It might just have been a cold night – the dew turned to ice before dawn. I was increasingly uncomfortable in my clammy sleeping bag and was up and hiking well before sunrise.
It was still early morning when I made Mather Pass, where I dried out my wet gear. The weather has reverted to classic Sierra blazing blue skies, marred by neither wind or storms. So different from hiking the Rockies.
Began the long descent from the pass, some 4000 feet in all, including a very steep descent below Palisades Lakes down a baking hot headwall that must have had 80 switchbacks. I felt truly sorry for the JMT hikers who had to go up that pitch. Including the one who apparently lost his sleeping bag at the bottom- it was just sitting on the trail. Someone is going to be pretty upset when they get to camp.
Probably seeing 50 JMT hikers every day. Although the JMT is some 210 miles, nearly all of them look clean and well-groomed. They even smell good. It’s not hard to tell them from the PCTers, who are pretty much feral at this point, having long since stopped trying to be presentable.
Seem to be getting my trail legs at last, had little problem making 22 miles. I’m just 4 miles/2400 feet below Muir Pass so I should be over it early tomorrow.
Today is the 3rd anniversary of Dad’s death. He was never much of a backpacker, but he loved the outdoors. We had so many great times on camping trips, from California to Maine and Canada to Mexico, and quite a few in the Sierra. I miss you Dad.