This week’s photo challenge – Ambience – serves me two ways: it gives me a chance to show off a few pictures, and it helps me find a new perspective on our last hike in the Sierra Nevada.We hear these names, like Devil’s Post Pile, Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite. Great authors and poets, legends of the wilderness and ground-breaking photographers have walked these very paths. They each infused the forest with mystery and texture that only time has hatched.We would encounter five major passes: first going north from Mammoth, we approached Donohue Pass. Then, coming back south from Mammoth, we first encountered Silver Pass, then Selden and the Muir. And then, finally, Mather Pass – the beast of them all. We knew these names well before our hike. These are often the areas hikers speak about when they speak about hiking, at least those we’ve met. And we have been anxious and excited to finally be in arguably some of the most pristine wilderness still existing in the Continental United States.The aura of the trail in this section is embracing. It is both quiet and loud. It allows you to wallow quietly in its meditation but then wakes you with a jolt with babbling water or wild birds squawking and chirping all around. This wilderness carries its own ambience sometimes with memorizing effects. It’s no wonder so many before us have enjoyed these miles.These are hallowed grounds, travelled by thousands of hikers over centuries. When we summited Muir Pass and approached the famous Muir Hut, I could almost feel a pulling bringing me closer. I climbed the few steps into the hut. It was cold and dark. The air was thin and smelled like wet clay. There were a few other hikers there already, all sitting along the stone bench outlining the diameter of the hut, excepting the sealed off fireplace. I put my palm against the stone wall. It seemed to vibrate like a purr. I sat on the bumpy stone bench. I could feel the cold stone chilling me.
We look forward to our next trip in June. We’ll be taking off from our last northern most trailhead at Tuolumne. We will be meeting up our our daughter who will be attempting a thru-hike with the class of 2017. I think we keep this blog up because we enjoy sharing the spectacular experience of hiking the PCT. To be able to share this together with our daughter will be a thrill.