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Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's the Mather?

Day 102 9/22
Mileage 19
Camped near South Fork Kings River

The miles really flew by today. The morning was shaded and gradual, following the Kings River through a wide valley. Aspens lined the trail, revealing autumn's arrival with hues of yellow and orange. Then, the trail turned sharply upward toward Mather Pass. Straight up the canyon wall we went, with more and more sweeping views of the valley spread out below us. We reached the top of the first steep section and entered another valley with a small chain of gorgeous deep blue alpine lakes. I pulled ahead and caught up to Joe, one of the JMT hikers we met in the Muir hut yesterday. We chatted our way up the last bit of climb to Mather Pass, which made it go by quickly. When we crested, a whole new landscape spread out before us. We could see the trail winding down the mountain, and a new valley lay ahead. We hung out on top of the pass for a while, and Joe headed on. This pass was splendid. Such a cool place to be. I waited for Peter and Kyle, and we lingered for a while. I was out of water so I filtered some from a little puddle in a dip in the rock, presumably from yesterday's storm. We then headed down the most absurd set of switchbacks I have ever seen. Go, trail builders! Looking back, the trail was almost invisible, and we seemed to have just descended a massive vertical wall. We stopped for a reinvigorating dip in the lake at the bottom, and strolled the last few easy miles through the open landscape to camp. Pinchot Pass tomorrow!

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