Over The Final Pass…
Today we hiked up another 3,000 feet from Centre Basin Creek to reach our final pass on the JMT. At 13,118 feet, not only is Forester Pass the highest pass we’ve tackled during our 211 mile hike through the Sierras, but it has also been our highest point to date.
Soon to steal that crown however will be Mount Whitney. We’re now only 15 miles from the summit of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States!
Pleased to have reached the top of Forester Pass at 13,118 feet!
Day 25 – Centre Basin Creek to Tyndall Frog Ponds (10.3 miles) – Monday 22nd September 2014 – ‘On A Mission To Mount Whitney’
We awoke to a frosted tent this morning. It was definitely the coldest night on the JMT so far and was still bitterly cold this morning as we packed up camp. We had to get moving just to feel our fingers and toes! No more hanging around for the sun to crest over the mountains, we’re just on a mission to get going. Especially today as we headed for Forester Pass, our final pass on the JMT and most definitely the hardest out of all ten passes we’ve hiked over.
It was a cold and frosty morning as we left camp.
We were treated to a lovely view as we left Centre Basin Creek.
The trail and scenery got progressively rockier as we made our way up.
In this vast area leading up to Forester Pass, there were already 15 people ahead of us!
Bright blue skies make for an inviting day on the trail.
Going all ‘hikeresque’ – Rocking the tights and shorts again!
On a mission to get up those switchbacks!
Forester Pass is probably more about stamina as it has lots of long switchbacks, but we coped well and kept a steady pace. Having left camp at 8am, it took us three hours to cover five miles, getting to the top of the pass by 11am. We thought that was pretty good going as it’s not a race after all.
This little sign marks the top of the pass.
A busy section of the trail – The ‘big tour group’ beat us to the top!
Pondering the meaning of life… Or just taking a breather!
Thinking back to all ten passes, I would say that Donahue Pass was my favourite. It’s the first major pass on the JMT and the valley on the other side is so strikingly different when you get to the top as you hike from Yosemite National Park into Ansell Adams Wilderness. I also thought Silver Pass had incredible views looking back to Mount Banner. Wayne really liked the views from Mather Pass as it was the first pass whereby we could clearly see both valleys from a single point at the top. But ultimately, we’re both glad that’s all the passes now done!
Our route down the mountain on the other side of Forester Pass. You can just see some hikers ahead of us.
The trail took us down to the right of these lakes.
Still going down…
We finally reached the first mountain lake at the bottom.
Just a few more miles to go to get to camp.
Making our way across the boulder field.
It was an easy trail to follow.
Passing another tarn on our way to Tyndall Frog Ponds.
As we left Forester Pass, it was just a five mile or so hike to Tyndall Frog Ponds where we planned on camping. (Along with quite a few other hikers!) The large ‘tour group’ whom we had first seen at Evolution Basin have now caught up with us and are on the same schedule, planning to summit Mount Whitney for sunrise on the 24th.
So we’ll be seeing a lot more of them over the next couple of days. The group is largely made up of Australians, but there are also a couple of Americans and a Kiwi named Frances, who is lovely and offered to have us stay if we’re ever in New Zealand. Jimmy, one of the guides, has also been a fantastic source of information for us and has now convinced Wayne that we need an ultra light-weight Tenkara fishing rod to add to our hiking kit!
There are a few more signs of life now we are back below tree-line.
We spotted a marmot that was basking in the sun.
The trail crosses the river on well placed stepping stones.
We were excited to see that Mount Whitney is only 16 miles away!
Taking a look in another bear locker – in the vain hope that someone has left surplus food in there for thru-hikers. No such luck!
We arrived at Tyndall Frog Ponds early afternoon and set up camp after having a look around and taking a few photos. We walked down to the lake but we didn’t see any frogs – nor bears for that matter!
Reflections on Tyndall Frog Ponds.
Sadly there were no frogs, but it was a lovely place to camp.
Getting ready to collect and filter some drinking water.
As we had some sunshine today, I went for it and used my last sachet of ‘shampoo and conditioner in one’ to wash my hair ready for Mount Whitney. I’ve been starting to get that dread lock hiker look and am in need of a good scrub. Seriously, we stink so bad Wayne thinks we’ll have to get a scouring pad to our armpits when we get to the motel! But like I’ve said before, we’ve seen plenty of people looking and smelling worse than us!
Getting ready for a good scrub. This is definitely not a good look!
Wayne starts preparing dinner.
We had saved another good meal for our penultimate trail dinner, so tonight on the menu it was chilli beef crumbles and garlic mash. (The WAG bag may be put to use tomorrow though as Wayne seems to have developed a dodgy tummy! We are seriously missing fibre from our diet, so anything too rich going in is not good coming out the other end! Enough said!) Hopefully a burger and pizza will sort that out in a couple of days time! Not that we’re counting. Well maybe I am!
Another of our favourite hiker staples – chilli and mash.
Not too long to wait now… Tomorrow we’re heading to Guitar Lake where all the JMTers will converge ready for their 3am pilgrimage to the top of Mount Whitney in time for sunrise! After 25 days in the wilderness, the end is in sight!