Friday, September 27, 2013

day 25: 16th day on the JMT, Rae Lakes to just below Forester Pass

(I forgot to mention that yesterday we saw a team of horses [about 20] come down the trail carrying supplies, it was pretty cool.  They also left us nice little "presents" along the trail that we had to dodge.)

Rae Lakes in the morning

Fin Dome in the morning

Panoramic of Rae Lakes

This morning we woke up and Dr. John had to bandage my feet again before we got out of the tent.  We broke camp and started to get ready for the hike up Glen Pass.  We had to walk 3 miles up 1500 feet elevation.  At first it was rolling, then uphill, then major uphill.  I was worried about this pass, I think some PCT hiker said it was bad (snow wise) or something.  There was some snow on it but it wasn't that bad.  The steepness is what kicked my butt.  I was stopping more frequently than I had on the other passes.  And this one wasn't clear so I couldn't see exactly where the pass was farther along.  I just had to follow the trail.  Anyway, up up up and we finally got there!

Heading towards Glen Pass

Me hiking up Glen Pass

The view from the top of Glen Pass

Us at the top

Once we reached the top, some PCT hikers came up the other side and we talked to them for a bit.  They were doing the JMT within the PCT.  The girl's trail name was "Wacka Wacka" which made me think of my sister, it's one of our jokes :).  So what happens after you summit a pass?  You descend.  Oh yeah, the view up top was really beautiful.  The fact that all of these mountains and lakes exist is just awesome!

Going down the other side

The view going down

Wonderful flat terrain

So we descended and it was steep (no snow!) and my feet were really pissed.  Then we went through rolling terrain and more descending.  Much like the previous few days: ascend the pass, descend steep switchbacks, descend more and rolling terrain.  We dropped all the way to 9500 feet (Glen Pass was 11,900 feet), which is the lowest we'll be for the rest of the hike. 

 Just incredible

Heading towards Trail Magic

While we were taking a break with Vegas some PCT hikers asked us if we knew about Trail Magic.  Of course we had no idea and we were a little skeptical at first.  Then they said it was a group of people who hike in with food and feed thru hikers.  Yay!  And they said they thought they were serving spaghetti today, wahoo!  They were located about 1.2 miles from where we were so we high tailed it down that descent.  Y'all, when you've been hiking for days (ok, weeks) and there's a promise of food at some point, come hell or high water you're getting there.  I was a woman on a mission. 

On the way down a PCT hiker (I assume) hiked past us wearing just her underwear!  Just the bottoms!  Ahh!  So bizarre and uncomfortable. Why?  Why would you do that?  Anyway, we kept going until we reached Trail Magic, which we found out is just 6 guys who hike in with tons of food and feed thru hikers.  No actual organization, they receive no donations, just do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  How nice!  They seriously made my day!  They were so kind and selfless.  They served us spaghetti and bacon and cheese quesadillas.  Delicious!  It was fun to talk with them and some of the other hikers. Truly, trail angels.

With full bellies we thanked them and continued on.  We ascended 2500 feet over 5 miles.  We found a campsite near Forester Pass (hiking that first thing tomorrow!) and set up camp.  We made dinner, cleaned up and were in our tents by 7:30.  After the sun started going down the temperature went down to 40 degrees! (It was 30 degrees when we woke up this morning)  So, Forester Pass tomorrow then we ascend Whitney!!  We may try to make it to the top and camp up there.  We'll see if these battered feet can get me there.

Campsite view

What hurts: feet, blisters seem to be spreading. My back is starting to hurt some.  John is fine, shocking.

Our campsite near Forester Pass

Total JMT miles: 185

Monday, September 23, 2013

day 24: 15th day on the JMT, Lake Marjorie to Rae Lakes

Last night was the worst night we've had on the JMT.  The wind was blowing so hard that it kept whipping the tent around.  Obviously, the tent was staked (we added rocks to the stakes as well) but the walls kept whipping in and out and hitting both of us a lot.  We kept waking up and definitely didn't get a good night's sleep.  And it was really cold (because of the wind).  I slept in my Under Armour, toboggan, gloves and fleece jacket.  Anyway, we woke up when the alarm went off and John bandaged up each of my toes with gauze and duct tape.  Then the guys decided to give me my trail name--"Bubbly Toes" because of all of my blisters.  Fine with me (even though it's a little gross) because it's the name of one of my favorite Jack Johnson songs.

Leaving Lake Marjorie

Heading towards Pinchot

Going up Pinchot

So we broke camp and headed to Pinchot Pass.  We had to hike up 1000 feet over 1.5 miles.  Pinchot Pass stands at 12,100 feet.  We were shocked by how fast we did it.  It wasn't easy but it wasn't as hard as I expected it to be.  Oh, on the way to the pass we walked over a lot of ice, I was scared there would be some ice on the pass but there wasn't, thank goodness.

View at the top of Pinchot Pass

Us at the top of Pinchot

Frozen mud at the beginning of the day

My feet were feeling better but they always hurt the worst when descending.  So descend we did down the other side of the pass.  Talk about some steep switchbacks!  I was a little afraid of some of them but we were fine.  John moved most of the food to his bear vault so that mine could be lighter (the food is the bulk of the weight we carried) and that has made a huge difference!  So we descended down to 8490 feet over the course of some miles (7-8?).

Going down the other side of Pinchot

Beautiful Sierra mountains :)

We crossed a really cool suspension bridge that was way more wobbly than I thought it would be.  Then we had lunch--peanut butter and honey tortilla wraps.  There was a family of four there doing part of the JMT (the kids were probably in college) and it made me miss my family even more than I already do.  We also ran into some other JMT hikers, a group of three guys and a couple.  It was cool to run into them because we mostly see PCT hikers (because they're going the opposite direction as us, while most JMT hikers are going the same direction as us).

Rocks, rocks and more rocks

Beautiful waterfalls were aplenty in the Sierras

More rocks and mountains along the trail

Me walking across the suspension bridge

Anyway, hike, hike, hike.  We had rolling and uphill terrain after lunch.  Dan was hiking with us again today.  He and John think we can summit Mount Whitney on Saturday instead of Sunday.  That would be cool because it would be one day closer to a warm bed, shower and a decent meal.  Don't get me wrong, I'm loving the wilderness but it also makes you appreciate the small comforts of your day to day life.  We'll have to play it by ear through because of my feet.  But we're going to try.

A mule team transporting some type of goods along the trail

Beautiful Rae Lakes

Look at how clear that water is, so pure

Fin Dome

Back to hiking--after lunch we hiked up 2000 feet elevation over 6 miles.  Our destination was Rae Lakes and we made it in great time!  What a beautiful place!  All of the lakes we pass are so peaceful and serene.  The whole forest is so peaceful.  Once we arrived at camp (with a bear locker!) we set up the tent, changed, John fished and caught a ton of trout but kept 6 for us to eat.  They just kept biting so he took them, cleaned them and we fried them up for dinner with some mashed potatoes.  They were so good!  Now off to bed because we have Glen Pass in the morning!  Eek!  Also, people told me I would crave things on the trail, so far it's been sweet tea, Mexican food and Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  I want them all right now!  Oh, I haven't looked in a mirror in 9 days, crazy!

John's fish

Dinner is served

What hurts: my feet and oddly my back is super sore.  John is fine, of course.

Our campsite at Rae Lakes

Total JMT miles: 172

Beautiful Rae Lakes at night