JMT, Day 13: Magical Muir Pass

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Big Pete Meadow to Muir Pass to Evolution Lake, 11.6 miles

We set off bright and early for Muir Pass this morning, and our guidebook says it is our last big pass of the John Muir Trail, so we are pretty pumped for it. We have about 2500′ of elevation yet to gain, and it starts right out of the gate. As we climb up, the Middle Fork of the Kings River tumbles down violently beside us. (more…)

JMT, Day 12: A Long Slog (My Birthday)

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Upper Palisade Lake to above Big Pete Meadow, 16.2 miles

We get an early start photographing this morning. Matt saw a few waterfalls up the trail on the way in last night, and he wants to shoot them before we take off this morning. The first is no problem but there are a couple of tents set up right next to the second, prettier one. It’s just after 7 in the morning, but the people are still asleep when we first come up. We are not anywhere close to them, but they start to stir while we are there, and we feel a little awkward for invading their space. Oh well… (more…)

JMT, Day 11: Another Day, Another Pass

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Lake Marjorie to Mather Pass to Upper Palisade Lake, 11.9 miles

Today we will cross 12,100’ Mather Pass, which is about 8 miles from our camp above Lake Marjorie, so it’s another morning of get up and go. We have oatmeal (our favorite … not!) for breakfast, and the only thing that makes it tolerable is the fact that we are sitting on the rock shelf above our tent enjoying the great view of Lake Marjorie while eating it. I think I could probably tolerate anything with a view like this. (more…)

JMT, Day 10: Our Hardest Day Yet!

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Dollar Lake to Pinchot Pass to Lake Marjorie, 14.2 miles

We wake up at 5 am to get an early start on what we already know will be a challenging day. We are on the trail before 7, but we start off the day with a big descent on our way to the Suspension Bridge at Woods Creek. Over the next 4.1 miles, we drop nearly 1700’, and our legs are not happy about it. I feel really awkward as we move along, and it occurs to me that it’s because we are starting with a downhill right out of the gate. Going uphill is definitely a nicer way to warm up the muscles in my book, but that’s not the plan on this day. (more…)

JMT, Day 9: Over Glen Pass and Beyond Rae Lakes

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Charlotte Lake to Dollar Lake, 8.5 miles

We both slept solidly last night, and it is hard to get moving at 6 when the alarm goes off. We are eager to get to Rae Lakes, so we reluctantly get moving and hit the trail by 8. First comes the 1.5 mile/600’ climb out of Charlotte Lake and back to the main trail. We hop back on the JMT at Sandy Junction, and soon we are hiking up high above Charlotte Lake and last night’s campsite. We also catch a glimpse of Charlotte Dome (at least we think) where last night’s neighbors are climbing today. Matt looks for them with his binoculars but cannot spot them yet. (more…)

JMT, Day 8: Back on the Trail

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Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake, 8.4 miles

Breakfast is at 7, and we are served fresh scrambled eggs, English muffins, coffee and tea—a welcome change from trail breakfast, which tends to be our least favorite meal in the backcountry. By 8 we are loading our packs into Strider’s SUV and heading back up the road to the Onion Valley trailhead, where we will retrace our steps up to Kearsarge Pass. (more…)

JMT, Day 7: Resupply in Onion Valley

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Bushcamp to Onion Valley Trailhead, 7.6 miles

We set our alarm on Matt’s iPhone to make certain that we don’t oversleep this morning. We have 7.6 miles to hike before we get picked up by Strider at the Onion Valley trailhead at 12:30 pm. If we are late, we will have to hitchhike into Independence on our own, and we are hoping that won’t happen. We wake up at 5:00 am and are on the trail by 6:30. (more…)

JMT, Day 6: Up and Over Forester Pass!

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Day 6: Forester Pass to Bush Camp, 11.1 miles

Despite camping so high, it is surprisingly warm during the night, and we sleep well. We wake up at 6 am and break camp. Just as we are about ready to leave, the morning sun lights up the mountains behind the tarn, and we spend a good hour photographing the peaks and their reflections in the water below. We don’t want to leave, but we have a big day ahead of us, and we need to get going. (more…)

JMT, Day 5: The Magnificent Mile

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Crabtree Meadow to Forester Pass, camping at 12,700 feet, 14.1 miles

We wake up early and break camp pretty efficiently before hitting the trail at 7:30. Today we will tackle Forester Pass, one of the JMT’s most formidable, and we are hoping to camp as close as possible to it tonight. The first several miles are through Foxtail Pine forest and look very similar to many of the miles we have walked so far.  We cross a few streams (Wallace and Wright Creek) without any trouble and then finally begin a big climb up to Bighorn Plateau. (more…)

JMT, Day 4: Summiting Mt. Whitney

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Guitar Lake>Summit> Guitar Lake>Crabtree Meadows5.0 to the summit + 5.0 back to Guitar Lake + 2.7 to Crabtree Meadows = 12.7 total

By the time we wake up and get going, most everyone camping at Guitar Lake has cleared out. We are impressed that so many people broke camp without waking us up. We pack only our essentials and hit the trail by 5:45 am. It’s 3.1 miles to the junction at Trail’s Crest, and we are eager to get going. The sun is already up, but the basin of mountains surrounding us is blocking the sun’s rays, and it’s a chilly start. (more…)