Missing A Few Home Comforts…
We’ve been exactly 21 days on the trail. That’s three whole weeks in the wilderness without access to the phone, TV, or internet. (Not that we’ve really missed these too much).
What we’re really pining for right now is food, beer, a shower and a bed – in that order! Not that we want to wish the rest of the JMT away either, as I’m sure we’ll both be quite sad when it’s all over. But living out of a backpack is getting harder each day!
Proudly reaching the top of Pinchot Pass.
Day 21 – South Fork Kings River to Woods Creek Trail (12 miles) – Thursday 18th September 2014 – ‘Down, Down, Down’
Where have the clouds gone? It was back to blue skies and bright sunshine today as we headed for Pinchot Pass. With not a cloud in sight, Wayne was rather disappointed on the time lapse front as he couldn’t get any. (I guess it’s fingers crossed for tomorrow!)
Wrapped in full layers as it was a chilly morning.
Once the sun was up it was bright blue skies.
We soon warmed up so it was time to de-layer!
Not a cloud in sight, to Wayne’s disappointment!
After leaving camp along the South Fork Kings River, we hiked first up to Lake Marjorie, then continued on up the switchbacks to Pinchot Pass. Despite the sunshine, there was a biting cold wind coming down the valley, but wrapped in our layers we still made good time going up. It was almost a repeat of yesterday as we reached the top of the pass before midday.
Another day, another pass to hike up and over…
Striking autumnal colours liven up the barren landscape.
Taking a breather to admire Lake Marjorie.
Continuing on the trail heading for Pinchot Pass.
We pass by several turquoise tarns.
Sitting at the top of Pinchot Pass and looking at where we’re heading next.
Again it was busy at the top with other hikers converging. We saw Ravi and Allison again whom we had chatted to at the top of Mather Pass yesterday. Like us, they have taken a year off to travel and are currently hiking the JMT, making the most of what their home country has to offer. They’re planning on visiting a number of the National Parks that we have on our road trip itinerary too, so we have a feeling that we’ll bump into them again at some point in the future.
At the top of Pinchot Pass.
The perfect rock for a ‘selfie’ shot.
There was the usual hiker chit chat amongst everyone, with the main topic of conversation again being ‘food’! It sounds like everyone is going to descend on the ‘Pizza Factory’ in Lone Pine when they finish the JMT. We actually want burgers and pizzas, we’re that hungry!
Our trail down heads off into an expanse of ‘nothingness’!
After leaving the top of the pass we found the afternoon hard. It was seven and a half miles downhill from the top of Pinchot Pass to where we wanted to camp and it just seemed like ‘forever’. There were some lovely views down the valley, but walking on stony trails with all that downhill just meant it was hard going on both our feet and knees. Wayne has also been struggling with his backpack the last couple of days. It’s been taking its toll on both his neck and shoulders, so I gave him a ‘Deep Freeze Gel Treatment’ massage whilst stopping for lunch at Twin Lakes. It’s brilliant stuff and did wonders for the tendons in my feet on the Pennine Way, so I’m sure it will do the job and ease his pain.
Setting off for seven miles of ‘downhill’.
Water was plentiful on this section of the trail.
Looking back towards Pinchot Pass.
Stopping at Twin Lakes for a spot of lunch.
Our typical ‘hiker ration’ lunch. Tortilla wraps with peanut butter. (I am so fed up of this stuff!)
We continued on to Woods Creek knowing immediately that we were in the right spot by the large number of hikers already camped there and by the fact there was a big, wooden swing bridge to cross the river. It is the only swing bridge on the JMT, which I was really thankful for. The fact the sign says ‘Only 1 person at a time’ didn’t fill me with much optimism as it seemed quite rickety and there are a few wooden slats missing as you traverse across. Needless to say we only went across it the once!
As we get lower, the trail instantly becomes greener.
There’s a lot more to look at as we get nearer to Woods Creek.
We spot some more mule deer wandering through the woodland.
Alpine scenery at its best.
The lovely views helped to take our minds off our sore feet.
Beautiful views as we reach the river.
No kidding, I’m happy to wait!
Wayne is first to cross the swing bridge.
Tentatively making my way across.
This camping spot is so popular as weekend hikers also come here to walk trail loops from Cedar Grove, another main trail entry point, so we weren’t sure if we’d manage to get a pitch having arrived quite late in the day. But while I stayed with the bags, Wayne did a reccy of the area and managed to find us quite a private spot near the river, away from the main camp sites and hoards of hikers. (It’s not a holiday camp, we are in the wilderness after all and mostly like to be on our own!)
Our secluded camp spot on the opposite side of the river.
After a tough afternoon, we had a great dinner to perk us up – instant mashed potato with tandoori chicken. It’s amazing what a bit of spice can do to something in a packet that looks like cat food! I’m so lucky to have my own ‘Hiker Chef Supreme’ with me! It really helps to keep our morale going when we have a nice dinner to look forward to, especially when we’re now starting to miss a few home comforts.
But it won’t be long until we hit reality with a bump – we’re back to civilisation in six days time! We keep wondering what’s been going on in the world. We’re keen to know how the vote went in Scotland and whether we still have a Great British flag! But I’m sure we’ll find out soon… And anything else we’ve missed, we can just catch up on Facebook!