Day 77: Mather Pass

Miles 815.0 – 831.6

July 2nd, 2017

Upon waking up to find that my shoes had frozen over into two solid bricks of ice, I also realized by looking at our maps that today was going to be a rough one. Just a few short miles to the north lay Mather Pass, which is regarded to many as the most difficult of all passes on the Pacific Crest Trail. When your shoes are frozen you only have one option: shove your feet in and immediately start walking. The first mile or so hurts, but after you get moving and the blood starts flowing you forget all about it, and once the sun peers over the mountains from the east and shines down upon your feet all is well once again.

There is a long, slightly uphill stretch as you get closer to the ascent up Mather, and it was at this time that I felt Mother Nature’s call for relief . . so I let Lt. Dan, Rooster, Pistons, and Dixie head out in front where they gained a substantial lead on me. Afterwords I scurried up the trail in attempt to catch, and as I peered up the trail I saw that Lt. Dan and Rooster were way ahead, but Dixie was within reach. About halfway up the steep climb I caught her, at a part of the climb where you’re constantly switching from hiking on top of ice and rocks. This is when the climb got intense. One slip here and you would surely fall hundreds of feet over the jagged granite rock. I went on ahead of Dixie, making sure that I never had too big of a gap in between us . . I not only wanted to be near in case she slipped, but I trusted her to help me if I were to fall. About two hundred feet from the top, I heard her mumble some words of discontent, and I turned to see what was the matter. She had gotten herself in a tricky situation, having tried to cross over a boulder – she was facing away from the slope. I hurried down to help her and grabbed her arm, pulling her back towards the mountain and away from the unnerving situation.

Photo Cred: Tomas Mann IG: adventureguy_tm  This photo was taken from the very top of Mather Pass

We were celebrated once we made it to the top, our trail family was sprawled out basking under the hot High Sierra sun. We thought that worst was over, but once you see the other side of Mather on the descent you realize that the real challenge hasn’t yet begun. Although the trail itself isn’t extremely steep heading down, it is far easier to slip hiking down on snow and you would slide for quite a ways. I was nervous, far more nervous than going up.

We made it down below the snow level where it felt really good to be walking on an actual trail once again, even if the trail was flooded. A nice little jaunt through a creek is good for the soul, plus it cleans you shoes and makes them look brand new. Once we got to camp, which was at the Little Pete Meadow at mile 831.6, we were all feeling terribly footsore. There comes a point in a day’s hike where your feet fall heavily, your bodies feel as though they have been extremely abused, jarred to an extent that you’ve never felt before. Dead tired we managed to pick a few wild Sierra Onions and toss them into our Ramen before falling fast asleep.

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