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 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.

JMT – Day 5 – Via Forester and Kearsage pass to Flower Lake, mile 788+5

July 30.

With the ladies all around me starting to get ready around 5am, I gave up with my hope to sleep in and got up around 5.45am. While they were leaving to climb Forester pass, I took my time with breakfast and coffee, left around 6.30am.

Around 7.15am I was at the top, had overtaken the other group easily. On the Northern side, there were 2-3 extended snow fields to cross. I had given in to fear and brought microspikes! 😝 I had hiked the Sierras two times before, once in June, once in July. But since I had brought them, I tried them out.

As I was heading down Forester, more and more JMT SoBos came by – easily 30 hikers before noon. I start to feel the trail again… I realized that when I noticed that one of the hikers that passed me actually smelled good. Usually a sure sign for a section hiker. πŸ˜‚

Took my lunch break at Middle Vidette Meadow, mile 787. Had my first Idahoan on trail, roasted garlic. Thanks Cactass for that treat!

Idahoan Mashed potatoes – typical hiker food

8.4 miles by 12pm. Not amazing, not shabby either. I feel that hiking alone is really faster. I play around alternatives… 9.4 miles to Onion Valley campground, hit Bishop tonight. Or I just camp somewhere between Kearsage pass and Onion valley and hit town tomorrow.

Passed Bullfrog lake. One of my favorite spots on trail.

Kearsage pass at 3.30pm. Tempted by the thought of a Coke zero with ice.

Pitched my tent at Flower lake at 4.30pm, 2.5 miles before Onion Valley campground. Today were about 15 miles with two passes – really enough. The plan is to hike down in the morning and get lucky with a hitch to Bishop early enough for breakfast. And I want to be hero… So I will stick to make a full zero in Bishop the day after tomorrow. So a nero and a zero. 😬 I am ahead of my schedule, so I feel this is well deserved.

More food fantasies: ice cold coke, milk shake, grilled salmon with broccoli, breakfast toasts and eggs sunny side up. A big green salad.

JMT – Day 4 – From Crabtree to Tentsite below Forester, mile 779

Jul 29.

Got up 5.45h, left tentsite 6.30h. I definitely have a cold, but somehow I manage to keep an acceptable hiking speed. Made it around 7am to the PCT crossing at mile 767 – now I am heading north as close to Forrester as possible.

Beautiful morning in the Sierra

There are a couple of river crossings coming today.

The first two were knee deep and I could cross right on trail.

Taking a break at 930am at mile 772, Tyndall crossing is still 3 miles out.

Made the Tyndall crossing around 1130am as recommended by many SOBOs a bit upriver from the trail crossing. Turned out to be not much of a challenge. Amazing – no mosquitos around these meadows. A good reason to plan for a lunch break. It’s only 4 miles and 2000 feet to Forester Pass. Considering that I will only do the summit tomorrow morning due to better (harder) snow, I have plenty of time…

The approach to Forester is one of my favorite stretches of the JMT. 😍 It’s a mix of Sierra beauty and moon landscape to me.

Arrived around 3pm at the desired tentsites, even further up than the last time I camped below Forester pass.

Tentsite just below Forester pass

They are all quite exposed to the wind – I secured my tent with extra rocks on all stakes, I hope it will hold up. Maybe the wind will also calm down over night. Watched an older couple climb down from the pass – gave me some good ideas for tomorrow morning. When they arrived they looked very exhausted but will push on another 3 miles to a better tentsite.

I prepared my dinner at 4pm.

But I didn’t get the loneliness I was expecting. First an older couple came down the pass, maybe at 5pm. They had trouble navigating but had seen my bright tent in the rocks. I gave them directions. They were pretty exhausted but were heading on to make it to the next better tentsite at 3.8miles, probably 2h. They might make it short before nightfall. They had shown me a friend of theirs in bright clothes, still making his way down. And after this guy came a last older man. They were really looking exhausted. I invited them to pitch their tents nearby, but both carried on at 5.30pm.

Forester is always good for some excitement.

… And then at 6pm a group of 4 older ladies showed up. I had met them during the Whitney Summit, actually brought a lost sun hat up from one of them. My beautiful remote camp spot is no more quiet. Can’t even … out loud anymore! But I can’t help it… I offered them to lead the way tomorrow around 7am anyway.

JMT – Day 3 – Summiting Mt Whitney and back to Crabtree Meadows, mile 767

July 28.

Getting up at 6am.

When I prepared my daypack to climb Mt Whitney I felt so smart. I would leave all my other gear behind in my tent – additional clothes, sleeping bag, the bear can away from the tent… And then I realized I need my hiking poles that also hold up my tent! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜œ Stupid me! πŸ˜‚ So I broke down the tent, packed all gear in my back pack and hid it behind some rocks. Leaving camp at 645am – still not sure how far I will get. Most hikers had either left at night time for sunrise or at least earlier than me. I started with one Ibuprofen, had a nagging headache.

Short break in the beginning of the switch backs. 745am at 12500 feet. So I still did 1000 feet in one hour. Wonder how I will feel when the ibuprofen wears out…

845am at the Whitney Portal trail crossing at 13360feet. Looks good, feeling ok.

945am resting at 13825. Much slower altitude gain, but still feeling pretty good. 0.8 miles and about 500 feet to go.

Made it to the summit at 1015am. 😁

I was sitting there for a while, quietly enjoying the moment – it took actually a while to realize. I had been touched when I summited Mt Whitney the second time in 2018. This time, I started crying when I was starting to go down and away from the crowd at the summit. It might not be such a big thing to climb this mountain with relatively easy approach. But still – these 14505feet / 4400m mean a lot to me, especially coming back the third time.

Back at Guitar lake at 1.45pm. Redid my pack, started walking 2pm.

Pitched my tent at 4pm at a site close to Crabtree Meadows. Its less than a mile back to PCT from here.

Whitney summiting from Guitar lake 9miles plus 3.5 back from Guitar lake. 12.5 miles today.

Napping in the tent, a bit separated from the rest. Around 6pm it started to get colder. Even though I am not that hungry, I pushed myself to get out and cook. Fell asleep happy and exhausted at 7pm.