Today started like the previous few days, waking up to my alarm at 4 am, packing up gear and on getting on the trail by 4:30. The first thing we had to do this morning was to climb up and over Mather Pass. The climb to the base of Mather pass was not too difficult and it looked from a distance not to be too crazy of a climb to the top. Overall, climbing Mather Pass turned out better than expected, but it was still the most challenging pass we have encountered so far.
Part of the difficulty today came from not having a single route to choose from but many. There were a couple straight uphill climbs and sketchy traverses. When we were almost to the top, we ran into a man cowboy camping on a section of trail that was free of snow. It was kind of odd, but he helped to point out where the trail was from his sleeping bag.
Just like all the other passes, the view on top was really spectacular. You could see the valley you came from, down the one you we were about to go through, with the surrounding mountains all around.
As we hiked down into the valley from Matthew Pass, we often followed the path left by other hikers and not the PCT, so we had to reorient ourselves to get back on the trail.
About 4 miles from the top of the next pass, we hit an almost completely snow free trail. It was incredible how much faster we could hike without any snow to slow us down. We did 21 miles by 2 pm, where we decided to call it a day. Part of the reason we got to camp so quickly was that we only took two real breaks on the hike.
While we were hiking today, I broke the tip of my trekking pole. Our group has not had the greatest luck with poles, Oliver broke both his trekking poles the day before yesterday along with his tent pole last night. He was able to quickly repair his tent pole, but no luck with his trekking poles. We only have three good trekking poles between the three of us. Almost like being up a river with no paddles.
I spent the time at camp figuring out what gear I was going to be swapping out when I get out of the Sierras and no longer need to carry a bear canister. Happy thoughts of not having a cumbersome bear can!