Not Too Far!
We had a lay in this morning (not that we needed any extra sleep as we’re already getting at least 10 hours a night). But as we had less than a mile to hike along the trail to Middle Rae Lake to use up our ‘extra day’, we kind of dragged out leaving camp.
We knew we’d have a lot of hours to fill today as it was!
Early morning reflections of ‘Fin Dome’ on Lower Rae Lake.
Day 23 – Lower Rae Lake to Middle Rae Lake (0.8 miles) – Saturday 20th September 2014 – ‘Need More Food’
Today was really a ‘zero hiking day’, as we had one day to use up to stay on schedule for reaching the summit of Mount Whitney in time for sunrise on the morning of 24th September. So after an extra hour in the sleeping bag and a leisurely breakfast, (consisting of our standard Clif Bar and cup of tea), we got our gear packed away and took a stroll along the trail to Middle Rae Lake.
We weren’t in any rush to pack the tent away and get going today!
Surprise, surprise, we were the first hikers of the day to arrive at camp! But as the saying goes ‘the early bird catches the worm’, so we were able to bag ourselves a great camp spot looking straight across the lake at the ‘Painted Lady’.
Casting our eyes over Middle Rae Lake, less than a mile further along the trail.
The ‘Painted Lady’ – one of the dominant peaks of Rae Lakes.
At the Middle Rae Lake designated camping area, there are two bear lockers so I did the obligatory check just in case a ‘trail angel’ had kindly left any surplus food inside. But to no avail – one was empty, while the other had a map inside. We haven’t got to the stage where we’ve started eating paper just to fill ourselves up – yet!
Our new camp spot looking on to the ‘Painted Lady’.
Voila! The pegs went into the ground today!
The weather wasn’t as good as yesterday. There was an incessant wind blowing across the lake and the sky was building up with dark looking clouds. We sensed a storm brewing, so Wayne set the tent up and tried to make it as wind proof as possible by adding extra guy ropes. Better to be prepared and batten down the hatches just in case.
A storm’s a brewing…
By late afternoon the sky was filled with menacing looking clouds.
It wasn’t even lunchtime yet, so to take our minds off food we got on with some camp tasks. Wayne rinsed some clothing in the lake, whilst I repaired my sandal. The toe bar had snapped, so with a little nifty sewing I managed to make it as good as new. Finally after 23 days of carrying it, the ‘travel sewing kit’ had been useful!
Eventually it was time for lunch. It was nothing exciting, but we were excited that it was actually lunchtime! On the menu today was a single tortilla wrap each with a cheese string and onion spread – not a great filling as it goes, but I must say it was better than peanut butter. (Despite my increasing abhorrence of the stuff, incredibly, Wayne still loves it by the spoonful!) I must confess here and now that I was also really naughty and ate one of my reserve Clif Bars too (saved for the 10 mile descent from Mount Whitney). Oh well, I guess having a burger when we get to Whitney Portal will spur me on down that mountain!
Then it was a long afternoon until dinner time. Wayne made some notes on his time lapse project, (you will get to see the results around December time when we’ve returned to the UK and Wayne has had chance to use his desktop computer to edit the sequences), whilst I spent most of the afternoon reading the new ‘National Curriculum for England & Wales’ (that I’d previously downloaded on my phone) as prep for when I return to ‘work’ in a couple of months! Not the most entertaining reading – but it felt good to actually read something! Having read the entire set (so far) of ‘Game of Thrones’ whilst travelling in South America, we are both really missing having a book.
We were hungry again, so Wayne got dinner started just before 5pm as we couldn’t wait any longer! (We seriously need more food). We have been trying to use up our lower calorie meals on less demanding days, so we ate our last tuna and cous cous meal from our rations. We then enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate before bedtime – our standard nightly ritual.
Savouring our nightly cuppa soup starter.
Tuna and cous cous for dinner – is it any wonder we were still hungry?!
Washing up in our collapsible bucket with the all important multi-purpose biodegradable camp soap. Perfect for hair washing too!
We had just snuggled up in our sleeping bags when the storm actually hit. No ‘star’ photographs for Wayne tonight. Rain came through the valley lashing the tent, but thankfully Wayne’s expert seam sealing at VVR had paid off as we had no drips! From inside the tent we could hear the thunder and see the lightning flash by, and knew we were on the edge of a tremendous storm. Luckily the main hub of it was over Glen Pass in the next valley – our destination for tomorrow.
Let’s hope it will have passed during our sleep, so we’re set for a better day’s hiking over what will be our penultimate pass on the JMT! Fingers crossed!