John Muir Trail: Muir Pass

August 17th, 2012 → 3:30 am @ // No Comments

Thus far I have described how Donahue, Silver and Selden passes all got their names. I don’t suppose there is much mystery regarding who Muir Pass is named for. Who gave the pass that name, however, is a little less well known.

A route suitable for man and stock, extending from Yosemite to Kings Canyon, was a dream long before the current John Muir Trail existed. Portions were already established by the Sierra Club and the United States Geological Survey in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until 1907 that the last segment was mapped and proven passable.

An image of Davis, who named Muir Pass on the John Muir Trail.

George R. Davis (Center, Right)

That last section of the route was the stretch between the Evolution Basin and the Middle Fork of the Kings River.

George R. Davis, of the USGS, led the team that first reconnoitered and later traveled the route. In 1907, he named the pass which separates the Evolution Basin and the Middle Fork of the Kings River as Muir Pass.

Davis was described as tall, easygoing and as possessing a “dry wit.” As an aside, he was also one of the first outsiders to enter San Francisco on April 18, 1906, just after the great San Francisco earthquake. He went there to ascertain the status of his father, who was staying a hotel within the city. (It turned out he was fine.)

Muir Pass is probably best known for having the famous Muir Hut, which was built in 1930 by the Sierra Club and acts as a temporary shelter for those exposed to storms.

The pass is at nearly 12,000 feet of elevation, so during my thru-hike this was one of the last places I expected to have a wildlife encounter, but I did! I was sitting on the steps of the hut, eating an energy bar, when a doe and fawn walked right by me, heading west. (The trail actually runs east-west at that point.) They paid little attention to me, looked as if they were not exerting themselves much at all, and headed down towards Wanda Lake.

Good hiking, Ray

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