John Muir wrote a book about his first summer in the Sierras. That first year he provided inexperienced help for a shepard, who really didn't mind John hadn't done that work before.
The descriptions of what he saw in 1869 still resonate with me in the present day. In many cases his descriptions are quite verbose, as to hammer home the imagery. Instead of copy-pasting his words, I'll just show you my pictures instead.
But before I run off with the pictures, I'll leave you with one of Muir's comments from that first summer:
"Our flesh-and-bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us, as if truly an inseparable part of it, thrilling with the air and trees, streams and rocks, in the waves of the sun,—a part of all nature, neither old nor young, sick nor well, but immortal."
PCT Mile 789.
Running water has been hard to come by the first 700 miles. Now there's so much of it I have to take my shoes off just to cross the creek a couple times a day.
Sunrises and Sunsets
The PCT demands most of the day's time. As a result, no matter the environment, there's a good chance of catching a sunrise and/or sunset.
For the first time since Mt. San Jacinto, I encountered packed snow beneath my feet. I expected snow on the Mt. Whitney summit, but snow also significantly impacted my ascent and descent of Forester Pass (elev. 13,153 ft). On the way to Forester, the trail was completely covered to the extent that the "trail" turned into a route. And the route was more or less the direction of the first person's footsteps, which wasn't always the most efficient or practical approach.
After Kennedy Meadows, PCT Mile 702, there was a noticeable change in topography. I spent most nights over the last week above 10,000 feet, with three of those nights above 11,000 feet.
The highest elevation in the Lower 48, Mt. Whitney peaks at 14,505 feet. I left at 2:30 AM to just miss sunrise before 6 AM. The hike was unforgettable none the less.
In order to reconnect with civilization I had to exit via Kearsarge Pass, which added 7 extra beautiful miles to the PCT (one way). I even met a search and rescue team running exercises. I'm not particularly thrilled about having to go back up Kearsage. It's beautiful but the round trip adds 14 tough miles, essentially a whole day.