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Sierra High Route - 1998

On to Muriel Lake

Sunday, August 30   (Map)   God, it had felt good to sleep. We had all needed the rest to recover from jet lag (except Tim and Diane, who live in MST all year round). We got up and had a very leisurely morning. Our goal for this day was to try to get to Muriel Lake by noon, so we could have a pseudo-layover day there. I discovered that some critter had eaten a big hole in my towel when it had fallen to the ground at night. I am just glad he had not found my new light purple shirt. We had a nice breakfast, split up into about 2 or 3 cooking groups. Susie and I were underway by 9:30 am.

We took it pretty easy: the trail is very gradual up to Piute Pass. We encountered several parties heading up or down, including day hikers. If you want solitude, the Piute Pass trail is not the place to find it. As we approached the pass, we came on our first vivid reminder of the power of the 1997-98 El Nino: even though it was practically Sept 1, there were huge snow drifts on Piute Pass. There was nearly a tunnel through which to walk (actually a deep trough), that had been made by hundreds of hikers and horses. We pushed thru, avoiding stepping on big piles of horse manure, seemingly incongruent with the "purity" of the snow which surrounded us. We arrived at the pass (11,423 feet) at about 11: 15 am, with only Will and Barb M behind us. Mark stopped to wait for them. We looked at the scenery abit, and then headed SW on a use path, toward Muriel Lake. The path stays at fairly constant elevation, until it gets near the lake. As we neared the lake on the path, we found a little duck, with a note from Ray, telling us to head south along the lake shore. After maybe 150 yds or so, we came to a very nice spot, with a good overview of the lake, and several flat areas for tents. Most everyone was in the process of putting up their tents. It was a beautiful, sunny day, with just a few clouds.

After a luxurious lunch (any lunch where you sit on your butt, and don't have to worry about picking up that 70 lb pack afterward, is luxurious), Susie announced that she felt like climbing up into the Lost Lakes basin, to the SSE. Boy, it is amazing what 24 hours had done to her disposition, both mental and physical. Yesterday, draped over a rock, and today, spunky as hell. I, on the other hand, realized that I needed to rest more than I needed to explore. I kinda putzed around the lake, taking photos of flowers, and basically relaxing. After a couple of hours, I noticed some figures high up, descending a big talus slope. It was Andy, Sue, and Susie, on the right, with Tim and Diane on the left. The former group was having a little easier time of it, but it was still slow going for everyone. I knew we would have plenty of that stuff starting tomorrow, and felt no compulsion to work so hard today.

Our afternoon bath was interrupted by rain. Susie ran back to the tent, while I stayed out, and just sort extended my shower. It let up a bit, but then started up again, so I dove into the tent, and Susie and I just relaxed inside, waiting for the rain to stop. It just seemed like the cloud hovered right over our camp. About 6 pm, it finally let up, so we got started on dinner. There was lightning and very dark clouds to the east, down in the valley we'd hiked up yesterday. After dinner, Barbara A surprised Ray with a Little Debbie cake, and used a flashlight as a candle. It had been his birthday yesterday. We all sang Happy Birthday out under the stars. A great way to end an easy day.

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Roger A. Jenkins, 1998