JMT, Day 16: Sunset on the Silver Plateau

This past summer, we hiked the John Muir Trail in California. For an overview of our trip, and links to other posts about it, go here.

September 9, 2015
Bear Creek Junction to Silver Plateau



We eat breakfast in camp, sitting on a small rock ledge side by side drinking monstrous amounts of coffee. After what we took from MTR, we have enough to basically drink as much as either of us could ever want, and we do.

Krista’s still feeling sick, but we’re both fast and jittery as we start the thousand foot climb out of the Bear Creek drainage, into a long waterless section of dappled aspen and juniper.


We break near the top to eat some fruit roll ups (still great) and snickers (still greater), then continue on down toward Mono Creek. There are a bunch of people coming up – most having just resupplied at Vermilion Valley, most carrying a whole bunch of food, most very unhappy to be in the middle of a several thousand foot climb.



We descend a few dozen switchbacks to a massive alder grove, the leaves just on the cusp of autumn, still strong and green except around the edges. It’s flat for half a mile, and the walking feels enchanted.


Then it’s up and down in the day’s rising heat until finally we reach the Mono Creek Bridge, where we take a long lunch break and I take a quick swim. Swimming in the middle of the day! It’s so wonderful not to be in a rush.



I know, I know…



We sit around for a while. I wash some clothes, lay them on the hot rocks to dry, make some more coffee – Krista seems to suspect, rightly, that anything’s possible with enough caffeine. Then finally it’s time to go, and we follow the trail over Mono Creek and up a fork of it, through a broad granite valley, baking in the afternoon sun.

We pass a couple of wonderful women headed the other way. PCT hikers, doing most of California. They don’t say much to me, but talk to Krista for a while. After all the Bro Nonsense the other day, this seems fully justified.

The valley thins and steepens as it makes its way to Pocket Meadow, stairs cut into the smooth white granite.






Past Pocket Meadow, the trail turns toward Silver Pass Creek, up a steep series of switchbacks, leading to a beautiful high plateau. We weren’t planning on doing this climb today – we’d planned to camp at Pocket Meadow, but found it full of large groups – and we both struggle a little. But at the same time it’s easy to forget, as the views open up to the north and east, toward the Silver Divide.




After the climb, we wander off trail, scrambling through Silver Pass Creek’s narrow gully to a large granite field just on the other side. We set up camp on a still-warm slab, and decide to call this place The Silver Plateau. It’s my favorite campsite we’ve had.


We make dinner at the edge of the plateau, listening to Mono Creek a few hundred feet below, and watching the sun set on the Silver Divide.



As it gets dark we look south to see rows and rows of mountains – a few hundred miles of passes – all behind us. This all will be over before we know it. It seems too soon, and so we sit out on a rocky ledge long after the sun has set, watching the stars. Maybe if we don’t go to sleep – if we just stay here, eating dried mango – it will last forever.


3 thoughts on “JMT, Day 16: Sunset on the Silver Plateau

  1. Thank you for reading! We have a backlog of posts that we’ll be publishing as soon as less fun things such as work and general life responsibilities simmer down. Stay tuned!

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