Monday, September 30, 2013

John Muir Trail (part III)

Today's post will cover a lot of ground (in a literal sense), however being as I have a TON of pictures, I'll let them do most of the talking (if a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, then this post is HUGE!) In case you missed the first 2 posts on this trip here are links:

Part I
Part II

It's now Saturday morning, and the beginning of our first full day in the mountains. We awake into the chilly high Sierra at about 10,500' of elevation. I think Greg crawled out of the tent first, which is a very hard thing to do early in the morning when you are so nice and toasty in your torture bag. We slept 'ok', though I know for sure that we both did a fair amount of tossing and turning. We make a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and 2 pots of coffee (my Jetboil stove also has a French Press we have TASTY hot coffee in with our breakfast).

 This is our view as we leave our campsite headed west towards the John Muir Trail. That's Bullfrog lake in the middle, we go just to the right of it and soon after connect with the JMT and go left (south).

 And here we are at the JMT intersection. To the north lie the Rae Lakes, and continues on and  until you finally get to Yosemite and the northern end of the trail (about 185 miles or so from here). We of course are headed south towards Mt Whitney, which we will hopefully hit 2 days from now.

Here we are looking south. The trail goes to the left of that pointy peak. We are currently descending from the Onion Valley down towards Bubs creek and the Vidette Meadows.

 The deer here aren't very afraid of us. They hardly take notice...other than to make sure we continue hiking.

I believe this is Center Peak. If that is true, then our trail passes left to right in front and then we switchback up on the right side heading towards Forrester Pass.

You can see our trail on the left, and we are near the very top of the treeline, right about 11,500'. 
Yes, just another beautiful valley in the High Sierra, ho hum.

Some of Bubs creek flowing thru Vidette Meadows. It's just gorgeous up here!

 You can sure tell these valleys were covered in glaciers long ago.

Now we're back above the treeline. Very desolate terrain here...quite the opposite of the earlier meadows.I feel that at every turn we could see the Mars explorer Curiosity creeping along looking at rocks.

 This part reminds me of the Highlands of Scotland...nothing but moss and rock and water. It's hard to believe that all of these pictures today were only in a 12 mile section of trail (and we're not even at the 12 mile point yet!) Our trail came thru the valley on the right, WAY back there somewhere!

The trail now goes up steeply towards Forrester pass. Here Greg takes in the view as he catches his breath. He's been hiking like a madman all day, driving a mean pace.

 Looking back from where we came from earlier in the day. Kearsarge lake is a LONG way from here.

And FINALLY we make it to the pass. It's been quite a hike for us, that's for sure. Looking thru the crack to the south the terrain looks surprisingly similar to what we just left!

The trail descending on the south side goes down a near vertical face. You can see Greg ahead forging on, and below him the switchbacks making this trail possible. You wouldn't want to fall off the trail here, that's for sure!

This shot gives you an idea of the wall of rock we are descending. That's Greg almost dead center.

Greg has FINALLY run out of gas. That's Forrester Pass behind him (the notch in the middle). When I finally got down he was sitting on a rock, hoping I'd want to stay the night right there (there was a small lake, and 2 other guys had already pitched their tent right off the trail by it). I was hoping to get a bit further down this plain towards Tyndall Creek (back into the treeline and in some shelter). However it wasn't in the cards...Tyndall Creek is 5 miles from the pass, and we were pretty tired.
 Heading south from the pass, the trail and terrain are about as desolate and unforgiving as can be. Tyndall Creek is still about 4 more miles from here.

About another mile south we find some water and a small patch of moss to put our tent. I had no intention of putting it in a rock garden and had we not found this would have kept on. So this was our Saturday night campsite. We're still at about 12,500' elevation, and pretty much NO cover if any kind of weather comes in, but we didn't really care at that point...we were TIRED!

The sun has set and it gets cold QUICK! But hey...all the comforts of home...a rock to put the stove on, our 2 bear cans (certainly NO bears will be up this high, there's NOTHING at all for them), and the 2 platypus water storage bottles. We have a good system: while I pitch the tent every night Greg filters 4 liters of water for our dinner/breakfast/hiking slackers up here for sure! Behind me is my pack covered by my new home-made tyvek pack cover. In the morning when we pull our covers off we find our packs were frosted heavily under the tyvek. It got a BIT chilly during the night up this high out in the open, but we were just fine in the tent and our down bags.

And that pretty much wraps up day 2 of our odyssey.

1 comment:

  1. That steep section of the trail just before Forrester Pass --- recognized it immediately! I was moving VERY slowly there, so I observed it well!
    I am not surprised that you had frost, seems that I always experienced at least a flurry of snow (plus the every afternoon rain). And I never was up there any later than August.

    I loved my little GAZ stove, so sad that the butane cartridges are no longer available (I used up my last one 2 years ago and was shocked to find I couldn't replace it. I searched the web high and low)

    Cathy, I found the Pacific Crest Trail challenging enough, can't imagine trekking in the Himalayas...although, 30 years ago, if you had asked me, I likely would have though about it. What a great experience for your husband!