Grouse Meadow, my camping spot, had had plenty of deer tracks in its deep, silty mud. I inspected them on the night of 6/26 on my way to the nearby creek for water. Just deer tracks.
Because I'd been hot in my big sleeping bag for the previous few nights, I decided to cowboy camp, leaving the bivy open with my head and arms exposed. I watched Meadow TV until I was tired enough to remove my glasses, then passed out after rolling around for some time. Some incomprensible, yet vivid, dream was modified to include the sound of a pig snuffling around. It woke me, and I must have twitched as I opened my eyes. The black bear blur that had been standing over my prone body took off in a hurry. I yelled to Far Out, who listened to it crashing off into the trees near our bear cans. Not much more sleep that night. Truly an awesome experience.
And then, first thing, as I was assembling my crap, Terence and Philip. Like me, they wanted to find a clear pawprint, but there were only big impressions in the duff. Not much to be done for it, but I really wanted an idea of the bear's size. They took off; I decided to catch them later as a goal for the day. So we set off for Muir Pass a little late, shaken up.
Muir has so many false summits. Somewhere after the second, climbing huge stone stairs for many uphill miles, I heard myself wheezing. It took a few more miles for me to decide that the allergy symptoms hidden behind a wall of Claritin D for the past few days wete actually head cold symptoms. Now it was in my chest on mountain passes over 10000'. The feeling of overheating from the day before, still with me, must be a lingering fever. Damn you, Bishop Hostel!
Miserable day past beautiful lakes on the way up. I just wanted to continue breathing. Lack of oxygen from my low-functioning lungs was giving me some altitude-sickness type symptoms. After the last lake on the south side, the final ascent came into view. Switchbacks up talus in the distance. Somehow, coughing and wheezing, I made it to the little stone hut on top, dedicated to Muir and placed there as an emergency shelter. I looked at it, took a couple pictures, and headed immediately downslope. The need for more air was too pressing. Wanda Lake, still above 10000, but lower than the damned pass, was as far as I could get.
Rocks had been used to buttress small boulder campsites on the north end of the lake. Eerily, there were no plants, just boulders, smaller rocks, and a lake with lots of fish rising. Wind was whipping through the campsites, so Far Out and I used our packs to make a third wind-blocking wall. I went to sleep hacking loudly in the crisp air.