JMT – Day 10 – From Pinchot Pass to tentsite above Palisade lake, mile 819

Aug 4.

Got up with the others around 615am. My morning procedure is different though – I always pack all my gear and break down my tent before sitting down for breakfast. We enjoyed breakfast together with a beautiful view down the valley that we had hiked up the day before. My breakfast was bigger than normal: besides one little bag Quaker’s oatmeal, I had a big cup Swiss chocolate and instant coffee mixed together. My cold is still there and weakening me – but that hot cup helped a bit. Horacio’s hiking buddy is suffering from the same symptoms like me… She was coughing all night as well and lives of Ibuprofen. I am glad that I have been able to only take an Ibuprofen at night if I can’t sleep at all – like last night.

I left camp around 715am, the others were still packing their stuff. I completed the missing 1000 feet to the 12100 feet / 4000 meter Pinchot pass until 8am.

A small break, enjoying the morning quietness and being the first on the pass this morning.

A German couple from Bavaria came up the pass SOBO. We exchanged same trail hints. According to them, the South Fork river crossing had not been too difficult and just knee deep. That’s good information. I had been planning already to avoid the crossing and go bushwhacking for 2.5 miles as it is indicated in the water report. I will decide when I get there.

Morning 10 am break at mile 810. A couple of river crossings today, but the South Fork should be the most challenging one.

Crossing was manageable. Took lunch with Horacio and later also Rachel from 11am to 12pm. Now come 2000 feet up to Mather pass. Would still like to go over today if I feel ok.

Made it to the top of Mather at 3.15pm – not too bad. Now let’s see how going down the Northern side will be.

Going down through some snowfields, sometimes climbing over rocks due to the trail completely covered in snow… It was a bit tricky but doable. Next time I would do it a bit earlier in the day. The snow was not only very soft and wet but was close before giving in even more for postholing.

I picked a site at mile 819 for tonight around 530 pm – pretty late considering the last days. But today were two passes and a bit more than 13 miles. Definitely more than I had planned. That leaves 60 miles and 5 days of food to the next planned resupply stop at Vermillion Valley resort (VVR).

Muir pass is 19 miles from here, so definitely not striking distance for tomorrow. I need to see how close I can get – want to make it over the pass not too late the day after tomorrow.

JMT – Day 9 – From Dollar lake to tentsite below Pinchot pass, mile 806

Aug 3.

Woke around 6am but felt quite miserable. My cold had not gotten better over night. I tried to sleep more, but gave up 15 min later. I started to worry about how well I will make it to VVR within the remaining 7 days of food and even more days to make it to town (Red’s Meadow/Mammoth lakes). I checked the possible passes to get out from the Sierra earlier. The most reasonable earlier exit will be Bishop pass. It’s less than 9000 feet, so snow should be no issue. But it’s 35 miles to the crossing. So I will still have to get over Pinchot pass and Mather pass before a potential earlier exit. Well, it’s at least a perspective. If this cold/flu is slowing me down too much, at least I won’t run out of food. At this moment, I plan to approach Pinchot today (about 10 miles), climb Pinchot and approach Mather tomorrow. So in three days I will climb Mather pass and decide on the descent whether I can stick to my original plan to go to VVR or take an unplanned break via Bishop pass.

Started hiking around 7am, made it to the lowest point 4 miles later at a wooden suspension bridge at 9am. Downhill works even with a throat ache and running nose. πŸ˜‚

The rest of the day I will climb as close to Pinchot pass – 7 miles and 3700 feet / 1200 m left.

Lunch break at 803 miles, 10200 feet. Just above the nasty forest that I had to pass through during my ascend… It’s infested with mosquitos.

I am really exhausted, can feel the cold makes me run on maybe 60%…

Will eat and try to have a small nap.

The nap turned out really good – close to an hour. Using my backpack as a backrest, I could fully stretch out in the shade of a tree.

Pushed forward – wanted to stick to my plan to get close to Pinchot pass pass today and maybe have a remote tentsite by myself.

Food fantasy of today: water melon πŸ‰πŸ˜

I was lucky. At around 3pm, I came to the last listed water source about a mile before the pass. Even there my app didn’t list any established tent sites, I had found a nice one within 15min.

The bushes will maybe offer some wind protection and will provide shade for last to do before dinner: afternoon chilling.

10 miles today. Not great, but considering how I feel – I am very satisfied. Tomorrow another 10 will take me just below Mather pass.

Around 6pm a surprise: Horacio, one of the guys I met in the hostel in Lone Pine the night before my start, came up the trail with his hiking buddy Rachel. We chatted a bit, they told me about their bear sighting today… Now I am jealous. But I had had my dinner already when they arrived. So I went to my tent earlier around 6.30pm.

JMT – Day 8 – From Flower Lake via Kearsage and Glen pass to Dollar lake, mile 796

Aug 2.

Had slept pretty good and comfortably. Woke up at 6am, packed my stuff. Shared a quick breakfast with the nice German couple. We exchanged contact details and said our goodbyes.

Left camp 645am to climb the rest of 11800 feet Kearsage pass. 815am I was on top but continued onwards pretty soon.

My plan for today is to go over Glen pass, maybe camp around Rae lakes or later.

Met a few hikers who reported very differently on the conditions at Glen. And I met the younger hiking couple again that had generously given me a box full of Mountain Houses and other treats two days ago when I met them at Onion Valley.

Morning break at 945am at mile 790, 1.2 miles and 900 feet to Glen pass.

1110am at the top of Glen pass.

215pm taking a nap at Rae lakes. Still think I should do more miles. My headache is back. Problem is the next pass is Pinchot in 13 miles or so. Even if I do a few more miles today, I will only approach Pinchot but not make it tomorrow.

A ranger just came by for a check. She didn’t ask for a permit but for the bear can.

Finally pitching my tent at Dollar lake, mile 796. About 13 miles today.

JMT – Day 7 – From Onion valley campground to Flower Lake… Did I just get scammed?

Aug 1.

Woke up in the king-size motel bed around 6am. Enjoyed the WiFi, turned around and tried to sleep more. Could not make up my mind if I should stay another night in Bishop to make it a full zero miles day.

With the thought of hot coffee waiting in the motel reception, I finally got up and started packing the bear canister with 8 days food. It fit surprisingly well.
It will be enough food to make it the about 100 miles to Vermillion Valley resort with the potential to get food two days before from the famous hiker boxes at Muir Trail ranch. And I must admit – the hiker hunger has not started yet, having hiked only for 6 days so far. They say it takes 2-3 weeks until you get really hungry due to the calories you burn every day hiking.
I completed my backpack with 2 liters water with the expected heat while climbing Kearsage pass. With all gear, the full bear can and the water the pack didn’t feel as heavy as I was expecting. I think that was the moment that I decided to hit the trail today. Why hang out another day in Bishop? I am not really exhausted to need recovery, not really hungry (only had breakfast in town yesterday, had skipped lunch and dinner), and I had done laundry, showers twice… πŸ˜‚

With the decision taken, I decided for the ESTA bus at 1.15pm to Independence.

I had a couple of hours to kill working on my blog, first in the motel reception with a very simple breakfast but acceptable coffee and wifi speed, later at Starbucks with better coffee and internet speed. πŸ˜‚
Bought some last minute items at VONS and enjoyed the bus ride.

It got scary when I tried to get a hitch from Independence to the trail head at Onion Valley campground.

I was standing at the corner for maybe 10 minutes when a battered black Mercedes SUV stopped. Two middle aged occupants, a guy driving as well as a woman, both with sun glasses. I asked whether they could take me to the campground – he said yes he drives that way, she said they will need gas money though. I offered 10 bucks, they said hop in. When they started driving she wondered if they have enough gas to make it there. He asked how far it was. I should probably have left the car latest that moment. He had said he was going there, now he turned out he had never been there. They were obviously trying to make money. I would have been fine with paying for the ride… But it got more spooky…
As we drove up the mountain, we did some chitchat, I told them about the trail. He started to get weird when he said he had heard that there were chapels along the trail. We exchanged names. When they asked whether I hike all by myself, I started bending the facts by saying that my hiking buddies are actually waiting up for me at the trail head. I didn’t really feel safe anymore. I had my hiking poles with me, sitting alone on the backseat with my pack.
About half way up the mountain, the car started stuttering. He cursed, called out that he was running out of fuel and swerved to one side, trying to u-turn the car. I decided to try my luck better out there in the heat in nowhere instead of staying with these two rolling down the mountain in a car without gas. I insisted on getting out right here, offering the full ten bucks. That probably got them… I opened the door, quickly got out my gear and myself. Feeling more safe outside, I checked for the money. Of course I only had a 20 dollar bill. She claimed they have no money whatsoever, that’s why they needed the gas money in the first place. I gave them the 20, they took off. I was glad. The 20 bucks will be a teaching for me to be more careful into which car I get. I guess I just got scammed? I don’t know.
It was the first hitch I ever had where I didn’t feel safe.
I was out there in nowhere, but it was the Onion valley campground road, so I was expecting traffic.I had plenty of water. A couple of minutes later Matthew from the Sierra transit shuttle stopped his mini van and took me up the mountain.

That adrenaline from this hitchhiking experience actually kept me pushing up the pass later way faster than I could have imagined.
I think I arrived around 4pm at Flower Lake where I had intended to camp. I wanted to keep pushing up the mountain… But when saw the nice German couple I had met the day before at the same campground, I decided to call it a day and relax to forget that experience.We had a very nice conversation about everything – about hiking, travel, ways of living and even politics. I hope we will stay in touch.
An exciting day came to an end. I was looking forward to the peaceful trail tomorrow.

JMT – Day 6 – From Flower lake to Onion valley campground and Bishop

Jul 31.

Anticipating breakfast in town, I got up quickly, packed my gear and left without breakfast towards Onion Valley campground.

On my way down, I met another acquaintance from my first JMT hike in 2016: Strider, the former owner of the Mt Williamson motel in Independence came walking up the trail with her dog Indy. I wasn’t 100 percent sure so I asked – and was rewarded with a hug. Strider kindly offered me a ride down to Independence if I should be waiting for a hitch when she returns from her morning walk.

I really start feeling at home with running into acquaintances again and again… 😊

Down at the campground, I met the German couple again from last night’s nice chat. We were discussing hitchhiking options when I was approached by other hikers. Some offered energy bars from their too big resupply which I happily accepted.

But it got even better: Other hikers gave me a complete resupply with 10+ mountain houses! Their hiking buddy was not able to join the hike!

So I was standing there holding a full box of resupply, still impressed about the kindness of the hikers.

The German couple was offered a ride down to Independence by a couple of older ladies with their Sprinter van – I was invited to join. I was really lucky today.

Down in Indepence, I got a coke at he gas station preparing for a longer wait for a hitch North to Bishop. I could not even finish my coke when a big 40ton truck stopped. Herman from Costa Rica gave me a ride to Bishop. Such a nice guy. We shared stories about travel, he told entertaining stories about his wild youth, later we talked politics. The 50 miles ride to Bishop was so entertaining… Thank you so much Herman!

So I really made it to Jack’s in Bishop before 10am! 😁

Next stop was Eastside Sports in Bishop. Highly recommendable outfitter! They had replaced my hiking pole tips when I came through during my PCT hike in 2018 just as a courtesy – and my tips were due for replacement again. I had a nice chat with the staff, paid my 7 USD for the new tips and left the poles with them for replacement.
I checked into a motel and reviewed the resupply that I had been given at the campground.

I noted one I still needed and went shopping to VONS.

Coming back with food and some beers, I shared beers with the motel neighbors.

Enjoyed the internet, did some blogging while snacking… And enjoyed a night in a bed.