Day 48: Friday, June 21

Tenting at some campsite past Evolution Creek (852.2), walked 24.7 miles today

Got out by 7 this morning ... the valley floor I was walking up was in shadow for at least another hour and a half, resulting in a lot of magical moments with the local deer population. Slow ascent paralleling the Middle Fork of the Kings River, making me wonder if I was in the namesake Kings Canyon. Climbed with my shirt off for awhile along with a guy named Stumbling Beef, as a way of easing into Hike Naked Day. Ran into the first fully naked hikers coming the other way around 10, which gave me the impetus to try it for myself. I had missed this very important holiday on the AT because I was off trail with my family, so I'd never actually tried backpacking in the buff ... I have to say it felt very nice but I was too concerned the whole time about sunburn, especially as I was getting above treeline at that point, so I only spent a mile or so lettin' it all hang out, and I didn't even have the good fortune to run into any JMTers or weekenders during that time.

The climb up to Muir Pass above treeline was stupidly fun and beautiful. There was about 5x as much snow as anywhere else on the trail, but not enough to be troublesome. Just fun. The lakes near the top were beautiful (as most of them tend to be), and it was unlike the other passes, which always make you finish by switchbacking straight up some crazy steep rock wall ... this one just wound around some lakes and slopes for awhile and then finally I crested a snowfield and there was the pass and the hut. Stripped down for that last part too, because you just HAVE to do any high Sierra passes au naturale if you happen to be there on June 21, but there was no one around, just two JMT dudes in the hut, and it seemed weird to run in on them in the nude so I put my clothes back on. Hung out in the hut for an hour or so, during which time about 6 more PCTers showed up, the last two (won't name names) very much naked.

Struck out on my own from the pass around 2, was feeling good and really only took one break all afternoon, at Evolution Lake. The landscape, as it has been coming down from every pass so far, was jaw-dropping, but the area around Evolution and Wanda Lakes felt extra special for some reason today. Eventually made it down into what seems by comparison a lush, low-elevation forest but is actually still at 9,000 feet. Evolution Creek, which in some wet years comes up to people's midsections when they have to cross it, came up ALMOST TO THE MIDDLE OF MY SHIN at 7 pm. Death-defying. Had planned on camping there at the creek, but the mozzies were brutal so I moved on another mile or so to this spot, your garden-variety wooded Sierra campsite with a nice little brook babbling by. No one else around. Been tenting the last few nights because of light mosquito traffic, and to reduce the condensation on my down sleeping bag ... same deal tonight.