We’re Almost There…
Including today, we have only three hiking days left of roughly 10 miles per day to reach Guitar Lake, where we’ll camp before heading up to the summit of Mount Whitney.
Our bear canisters are getting emptier and emptier, which on a positive note means they’re getting lighter! We just hope our remaining rations (including toilet roll) will see us through to the end!
It’s difficult to convey the feeling, beauty and experience of this wonderful morning!
Day 24 – Middle Rae Lake to Centre Basin Creek (9.5 miles) – Sunday 21st September 2014 – ‘Our Very Own Trail Angel’
With last night’s storm well and truly over by morning, Wayne was up early to capture a time lapse of sunrise over ‘Fin Dome’ and the beautiful reflections of it on Middle Rae Lake. This was truly one of our most memorable mornings on the trail. The stunning colours in each photograph have not been boosted by digital editing – it is just how we saw them. It was both incredibly breathtaking and sincerely humbling to witness nature at work. The trail fatigue and weariness I had been suffering from yesterday was quickly forgotten. There’s something quite special about sitting there and watching the rest of the world wake up.
The sun makes a dramatic appearance.
‘Fin Dome’ is surrounded by glorious early morning colour.
‘Vivid memories’ – With every step on the trail, you become part of the scenery and the scenery becomes part of you!
What an amazing place to wake up in!
More stunning reflections – The ‘Painted Lady’.
Enjoying the early morning view of the ‘Painted Lady’ from our camp spot.
We felt really lucky to witness such splendour.
We had to practically drag ourselves away from this wonderful place. But it was time to continue on the trail and make our way up and over the penultimate pass on the JMT. At almost 12,000 feet, Glen Pass isn’t too taxing, although after having a ‘zero day’ yesterday I could feel some affects of altitude. My ears kept popping and I had a few tingles up the back of my calves. But I put that down to not having drank much water yesterday. Wayne was upfront, powering ahead as usual, not seeming to be suffering from any adverse affects at all.
Making our way to the end of Rae Lakes before starting up Glen Pass.
Starting the switchbacks… But not quite feeling 100% today.
Wayne is on the left of the picture to help give a sense of scale in terms of what we had to hike over!
The mountain ridge to the right of Glen Pass.
From Middle Rae Lake you follow a rocky trail to the right of the ‘Painted Lady’ along some good switchbacks, although some sections are quite steep. As it’s only a couple of miles from the lake, we made it to the top of the pass by 10.30am, where we stopped to admire the view and have a snack break (along with one or two ‘trail bandits’ scavenging around for a few crumbs).
Passing a small tarn. The scenery is so different above the tree-line.
It feels like we’ve come a long way already!
Bottom right – still making my way up.
As well as the ‘look’ and ‘smell’, the ‘hiker beard’ is coming on strong!
All smiles having reached the top of Glen Pass.
Looking over the pass where we had to make our way back down.
Feeling like we’re literally on top of the world.
A cute, little chipmunk who was trying to win us over for some crumbs.
You’ve got to keep your eyes on everything because they are everywhere!
It was there that we met Katie from Montana who was hiking the JMT in a pair of ‘crocs’, as well as a Russian guy called Daniel, who we gave the trail name ‘Crazy Ivan’ as he was hiking in socks and sandals! I think we’re more than happy to stick with our tried and tested Salomons, but each to their own! (At least we didn’t see anyone hiking in a pair of Speedos this time like on our Coast to Coast hike in the UK!)
After a quick chat about footwear dilemmas, it was then a gradual descent past Charlotte Lake and Bullfrog Lake before we stopped for lunch and to top up with water at Vidette Meadow.
Setting off down the other side of Glen Pass.
Even way up here, we were lucky to have a number of water supplies available should we need them.
After so much grey rock, trees were a welcome sight as we made our way lower into the valley.
Charlotte Lake comes into view after a steady trail leading downhill.
But it wasn’t to be our usual lunchtime treat. Today we had a packet of pork teriyaki jerky to enjoy courtesy of our very own ‘Trail Angel’ named Shari. We had met Shari and Randy, a couple from Utah, just a few days before and then passed them at various times on the trail. (Randy was usually well ahead, with Shari catching up, much like myself and Wayne at times!) I think Shari took pity on us after chatting with Wayne about food rations (the usual hiker topic of conversation) and finding out about our rather meagre Clif Bar for breakfast. So she said she had way too much food and that she had a packet of jerky surplus to requirements, so we jumped at the chance to take it off her hands! As we’re now down to our final few rations, lunch today then became fine dining with the addition of pork teriyaki jerky to our tortilla wraps and onion spread! It certainly kept us going a bit longer.
We were full up and full of thanks after a wonderful gift from our very own ‘Trail Angel’ named Shari.
As we arrived at camp the clouds were building up and it looked rather miserable towards Forester Pass, the final pass on the JMT, which we’d be tackling tomorrow. We felt a few spots of rain, so we quickly put the tent up ready to take shelter.
More huge mountains in the distance with dark and moody clouds hanging overhead. Tomorrow we tackle Forester Pass to take us into the next valley and closer to Mount Whitney.
Even Wayne is wrapped up tonight. (Sadly the bear locker in the background was not filled with tubes of Pringles such as I desired!)
It was a good dinner on the menu tonight – ‘spag bol’ – one of our hiker favourites. It must have smelt good too as we had four deer wander across the river into our campsite! We’ve now seen exactly 50 in total on the entire trail! (But still no bears). Although we did spot our first eagle today! (No photo though).
John Muir Junior avidly tucks into his spaghetti bolognese!
I’m sure these mule deer were attracted by the smell of Wayne’s cooking!
It was amazing to watch the deer at play.
Bambi here bounced right through our campsite.
Luckily the rain clouds passed over us, but we found it was extremely cold. So cold in fact that we didn’t even want to undress to get washed. Even Wayne agreed that he was cold – for once! But (having no wet wipes left as backup) we forced ourselves to have a quick ‘face, feet, pits and bits’ wash, before getting all of our layers on and wrapping up inside the tent. My feet especially were like blocks of ice.
As it’s getting toward the latter part of September and we’re getting higher in elevation, we’re definitely feeling the difference in temperature. Campfires are prohibited above 10,000 feet, so there’s no chance we can even light a fire to keep ourselves warm. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact it’s going to be a cold last couple of nights on the trail. So it’s time to get snuggled up in the sleeping bag and see what tomorrow will bring! (Hopefully not snow!)