John Muir Trail Day 10 – Grouse Meadow over Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie.

hiking down from Mather Pass

Day: 10 | Distance: 20.1 mi | Mountain pass: 7/11 – Mather Pass (12,080′)

Waking up at Grouse Meadow, I couldn’t help but appreciate the serene beauty of my surroundings. The calmness of the morning provided a great opportunity to work on my morning routine. However, Don was already two steps ahead, showing his mastery of our daily routine. He’s up and ready for our hike over Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie today before I even have a sip of coffee.

As we were packing up to leave, we met a hiker who had a footwear emergency. He needed his wife to send him new shoes to his next resupply, as his current pair was coming apart at the seams. In a true act of kindness, Don offered him some duct tape to hold him over and even used his InReach to help send a text to the hiker’s wife. The good deed bought me some extra time to prepare for the day, and soon enough, we were on the trail again.

Morning light breaking over Grouse Meadow
Morning light breaking over Grouse Meadow

Grouse Meadow to Mather Pass: The Golden Staircase

We soon began our ascent towards Mather Pass, climbing up the Golden Staircase. While on the staircase, we ran into a group of trail workers who were spending their summer working on the trail. They were sweating it out by smashing, lifting, and rolling granite boulders around to improve a section of trail made in 1938. Their efforts were aimed at ensuring that the trail would be safer for hikers and lead to fewer injuries in the future.

Climbing the Golden Staircase to Mather Pass
Climbing the Golden Staircase to Mather Pass

As we approached the top of the pass, we heard a loud pop in the distance, followed by the unmistakable sound of boulders crashing. We quickly spun around to pinpoint the source and realized that an enormous rock slide had started to careen down the mountain, approximately a quarter-mile from us. Standing on the side of a mountain with thousands of large, precariously balanced boulders above us after this was unsettling, to say the least.

Climbing the Golden Staircase to Mather Pass
The rock slide took place on this mountain range a couple minutes after this shot was taken.

Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie

We finally reached the top of Mather and began our descent towards Lake Marjorie. The trail led us below the tree line and into the valley before eventually climbing back up towards Marjorie Lake. When we arrived, we managed to find a campsite, and although it was not even sundown yet, most hikers around us had already retreated to their tents.

As we quietly set up camp on a hillside near the lake, we couldn’t help but whisper for fear of breaking the deafening silence. Tomorrow’s hike over Glenn Pass and Pinchot Pass is bound to be epic. For now, I just need a little sleep.

camp at Lake Marjorie
Don setting up his shelter next to Lake Marjorie

My Backpacking Meal Plan

After a long day on the trail, I was looking forward to dinner. Although it was not my favorite backpacking meal, I was still excited to have Pesto Parmesan Noodles. As much as I missed Mac & Cheese, the meal would do for the night.

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