Hike, hike, hike. We finally met up with Vegas a few hours into the hike. He started a littler earlier and got in the zone so he was trucking it through the trail. We were all hungry and ready for lunch so we agreed to hike until we found a water source (which isn't difficult on the JMT). We finally came upon one about a mile later, we settled in and had lunch. Then we continued on some slight uphills and rolling terrain. I wasn't a huge fan of this area because it was all trees that had somewhat survived a forest fire, it looked like a sad wasteland.
(Not the wasteland, obviously, I actually don't think we have any pictures of the wasteland.)
No worries because then the major ascent began up the Golden Staircase. While looking at the map, John described it as "steep, steeper and steepest". Yay. And he wasn't kidding. I made it through steep and steeper pretty well (although exhausted) but when we got to steepest, oh man! That was so tough. And it was rocky terrain, completely exposed to the sun (because it was above treeline). There were a lot of overgrown bushes along this part of the trail and my poles kept getting stuck in them and the bushes kept scratching my legs. However, it did smell like basil and blueberries so that was pleasant. Up, up, up. Our final destination today is the Palisade Lakes (over 10,000 feet elevation) and it seemed we would never get there. This climb made Bear Ridge (2000 feet in 2 miles) look like child's play. Every time I came to the top of a switchback or around a corner I expected to see the lake. It's funny, normally I would've gotten really discouraged and it would've been harder for me to push through the climb. But this time I was determined to finish the Golden Staircase, it was like it was my enemy and we were at war, and there was nothing that would keep me from getting to our campsite. I noticed these extra bursts of willfulness towards the end of most days, like I would push through just about anything to get to camp. Finally we came upon the lake and we were all so exhausted and excited! We immediately dropped our packs and laid down on these huge flat rocks until we caught our breath. Vegas gave me one of the biggest compliments at this point, he said, "man, I feel like such a wuss, I'm so exhausted and you don't seem that exhausted". I was that exhausted, I was just trying to hide it.
Me going up the Golden Staircase, the smile on my face is very misleading.
John at what we thought was the top of the Golden Staircase, it was probably halfway up.
Getting close to Palisade Lake
After we caught our breath and felt we could sit up and eventually stand up we filtered water and "washed" clothes. John went fishing (he obtained a CA fishing license before we began the trip) and I set up camp as best I could. John caught 2 trout! He cleaned them and we fried them up and had them with some mashed potatoes! Yum! Then we quickly finished up everything that needed to be done and now we are going to bed (9:00 p.m.). Tomorrow, Mather Pass...
First fish of the day!
What hurts: my feet. Two of the blisters have calloused up but my little toes are all bloody and scabby from being squished together and it really hurts.
High Sierra sunset, gorgeous
Our tent and Vegas' tent
Total JMT miles: 146
Palisade Lakes at night