September 6 (~08:10 – ~19:40)
Fish Creek – Evolution Creek crossing (21.5 mi / Total: 850.9 mi)
Total PCT miles: 2504.1
Weather: Cloudy. Overall not too hot or cold, so nice hiking temperature.
Today is simple. A long, slow ascend over less than 7 miles to Selden Pass, down the other end, and then the faintest uphill towards Evolution Creek. There’s not much sun in the morning but it hasn’t rained, and it looks as though the weather has cleared up after yesterday’s disaster. It’s cloudy, but snippets of sun and a cool temperature make for nice hiking conditions.
The day starts with an incline, the trail meandering through and carved out of smooth rock, and I follow the strengthening sun to slightly bigger mountains and brighter views and pristine little creeks. It’s a nice start of the day, and I feel happy, I feel relaxed. I pass Marie Lake before the final ascend towards the pass, and it’s yet another perfect setting. On the far end of the water the climb continues, the lake silver in the distance, the rock a little pink, everything is so alive here.
The pass itself is small. It doesn’t read as anything significant, while on the other side enormous vertical formations of rock orchestrate a descend towards Heart Lake, which sits almost like an infinity pool on its high plateau.
Then the way down takes me through anything and everything else again. Meadows, forests, and a long exposed sidle that ends in more open spaces with some beautiful big red trees. Unfortunately the downhill causes some problems. The pain next to my right shin comes back, and by the time I’m on level terrain, my leg has started to hurt a lot more – shooting pains on top of the lingering sharp pain. It seems as though I can’t get through any days over 15 miles anymore. It hurts so much I simply can’t continue to walk, so I sit down and take out the Ibuprofen I bought in Mammoth as a last resort. I wasn’t going to take these – I don’t take painkillers, but I have no choice. I need to finish this trail. I open the bottle and take two.
After a short rest I feel okay to continue slowly, and it doesn’t take long before I’m thrusted across Piute Creek Bridge and into a whole new space. I’ve entered Kings Canyon National Park, and suddenly everything is just a little more. The river is fierce, and a trail carved from rock follows alongside it. The pain in my leg begins to dull, and now I just need to be careful not to overdo it. There are so many good views here but the weather has gone grey and everything is a little murky. I watch people set up their tents next to the trail but I decide to keep going, to go up that intense set of switchbacks I wasn’t sure I was going to reach and then everything turns a little pink, and the sky is in love.
I finally meet the infamous Evolution Creek, and as I loosely follow it further up the mountain, I watch as the water slides across the smooth rock, cascading down waterfalls, manoeuvring effortlessly. The Evolution Creek river crossing is coming up but I plan to camp before that, and I scout the surroundings in the poor daylight, but fail to find a spot until I’m at the crossing. It’s almost dark now but I can see the water here is shallow and wide and calm, and it’s a world of difference from what it’s like earlier in the season, when this river is one of the most dangerous ones around – deep and wide, and when the current is too strong there’s an alternative route further south, that’s supposedly a little safer. My only regret with ending up here is that I haven’t been able to find a truly scenic campsite in days, and it’s a little sad with all this beauty around – I really hope I’ll find more before the Sierras end.