John Muir Trail 2014
Final installment of my walk on the John Muir Trail, 100 miles when you include the trailheads entering at South Lake and exiting at Mount Whitney. I decide to allow ten days for spontaneous unplanned explorations. I sit out the bad weather in late September, and then camp at the trailhead expecting snow the first night but a forecast of good weather for the following week.
Maiden voyage of my new Six Moons 13 oz. Deschutes tarp.
The next morning.
Wow, a light dusting of snow is a beautiful beginning.
At the top of the Bishop Pass I meet Kate who is demonstrating a good straight-arm crow pose.
My not-so-good side-crow. I have improved. Really.
Mr. Bear scratches.
The start of Fall brings yellowing aspens.
Kate is relatively new to backpacking but has done an excellent job studying and preparing.
The first snow pretty much scares off all the JMT hikers, but there are still a few Pacific Crest Trail hikers racing south. "Forester by the Fifth" is a PCT expression that means that if you don't make it over Forester Pass by the fifth of October you might get caught up by heavy snow. This Dutch woman "Arctic Fox" doing a southbound PCT trip is putting in 12 hour days to move south fast.
I stop for a day to enjoy Bench lake. Like many who walk the JMT, the journey for Kate is the culmination of a life and career change, in her case from moving from a sales job to become a yoga instructor.
Fin Dome near the Rae Lakes.
East Vidette. Pure majesty.
Early morning ascent to Forester Pass. 13,200 feet !
Nice trail design. Esthetically I prefer built up and natural over inset and dynamited.
After a small bit of rain, the skies clear at Guitar Lake and I am ready for the full-moon ascent by moonlight to Whitney. I leave at 2:30 am so as to arrive at 6:30 for the 6:45 dawn.
Dawn on Whitney.
14,505 feet, highest spot in the lower 48, and absolutely freezing cold. Later in the morning Kate sings "Amazing Grace" and everyone is in tears.
The walk down from Whitney is a knee killer, a 6,000. foot descent. Beer and Mexican food beckon.
I decide to take a slow drive home with frequent stops to decompress from the amazing trip, making art and exploring abandoned buildings and other strange desert stuff.