John Muir Trail 2012 Video

I want to dance the tango with chance and I want to ride on the wind, because nothing gets done with dust in your gun and nobody respects a liar, so good-bye for a while and off to explore every boundary and every door…ya I’m going North.
~from “Going North” by Missy Higgins

Created all on my iPhone using iPhone pics, videos, and the magic iPhone App iMovie.

August 5 – Half Dome at Sunrise

20120805-105016.jpgAbove Half Dome Junction, up Half Dome, and out to Yosemite Valley
9 miles

My face hurts from smiling all day. It was that good!

As I started up the trail by headlamp to Half Dome, it occurred to me, crap I am going to be climbing the cables in the dark. Half Dome’s famous 400 feet of cable system up the rock face is steep, requires upper and lower body strength, and the courage to depend on the wire cables to keep you alive. That is when my smile started.

Just as I reached the bottom of the cables a group of friendly college students from San Francisco hiked up. I was thankful. Someone would be there if something happened. I quickly selected a pair of gloves left for climbers at the foot of the cables. I used thick leather garden gloves that worked well. Tip: take all rings off BEFORE you climb. I didn’t. I then started the ascent in the dark and the only one on the cables. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Years ago I climbed during the day along with many other people on the cables. I felt it was chaos.

The trip up required a lot of arm strength due to the rock made slick by years of hiker use. This took me aback. I now realize it was hard because I could go as fast as I wanted and I did. It was fun. I even turned my headlamp off and let the moonlight lead my way. I reached the top in time to explore, eat, drink, and relax before the show began. And boy did it.

After basking in sensory overload, I descended the cables solo and quickly. It was likened to a zip line at kid’s camp. That is the best I can describe the feeling. Since I was heading off the trail today, I could not think of a better way to finish this journey.

I decided to take the Mist Trail down to Yosemite Valley, largely because it is steep, narrow, and crowded. This year due to drought conditions the Mist on the Mist Trail is non-existent. As I descended, crowds of vacationers filled the trail all smelling of delicious lotions, soap, and hair products reminding me of my dirty state. I smiled. I earned it.

As I reached the bridge at Vernal Falls crossing, I was welcomed with the best sight ever, Dan, my husband crossing the bridge. BIGGER SMILE.

We spent the rest of the day riding the Yosemite Shuttle, sight seeing, eating, walking in the rain, taking more photos, enjoying the delight of people visiting the park, and of course finishing with the day with the sunset from Glacier Point.

Thank you everyone for following and cheering me along this summer through changes, challenges, and exhilaration. It has been a growing and learning time. Just think…it is now time not only to go back to work, but also to get planning the next adventure. EVEN BIGGER SMILE!

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Diving Board on Half Dome

Diving Board on Half Dome

Heading Down the Cables

Heading Down the Cables

Going back up for Fun

Going back up for Fun

Half Dome Cables

Half Dome Cables

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

Half Dome from Valley Floor

Half Dome from Valley Floor

El Capitian

El Capitian

Glacier Point

Glacier Point

Sunset at Glacier Point

Sunset at Glacier Point

August 4 – Clouds Rest

20120805-092546.jpgTuolumne Meadows to 1/2 mile north of junction to Half Dome
23.1 miles

This trek through the Sierras has spurred a personal transformation of sorts. I like to think of myself as a person that lives just outside the box. Although I often stay inside for too long and a long challenging backpack is like a reboot to my soul. Pretty fantastic. BUT this trip I have purposely challenged myself everyday to do something that is even further out of my comfort zone.

The route I traveled today was not a direct route, but passed by Sunrise Lakes and the off the back route of Clouds Rest.  Taking that route I had to haul a full pack to the top of Clouds Rest. I scored big time. Sunrise Lakes are little jewels teeming with fish and clean cold water. I took a long swim in the afternoon to cool off from the heat. Clouds quickly formed in the afternoon making the sky dramatic and moody.

Clouds Rest is a peak in Yosemite that stands tall directly behind Half Dome with 360 degree unsurpassed views. A couple of years ago I climbed it with my family. Read about that day trip here. The trail to the top is gentle and the summit block has interesting rocks to climb. My trip to the top today was uplifting and stunning due to the passing clouds that continued to form by the minute. The route off the front of the peak to a must do. I loved the views, gentle descent, and packed trail. Camp tonight is staged 1/2 mile north of the intersection of the John Muir Trail and Half Dome Junction. The plan is to start hiking at 4:00 am to climb the 2.5 miles up Half Dome by moonlight and headlamp to experience  sunrise on Half Dome. How cool is that?

Early Morning Light on Small Dome

Early Morning Light on Small Dome

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Lake and Peak

Cathedral Lake and Peak

First View of Clouds Rest

First View of Clouds Rest

Hiking up Knife Ridge to Cloud's Rest Summit

Hiking up Knife Ridge to Cloud’s Rest Summit

Top of Clouds Rest Overlooking Half Dome

Top of Clouds Rest Overlooking Half Dome

South View

South View

East View

East View

View from Trail Down to Half Dome Junction

View from Trail Down to Half Dome Junction

Route Down the Front Side of Clouds Rest Facing Half Dome

Route Down the Front Side of Clouds Rest Facing Half Dome

August 3 – Zero in Tuolumne

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
~Dr. Seuss

One of the dreams I have to end this trip proper is to climb Clouds Rest and Half Dome on the way down to Yosemite Valley. I needed a special permit from the park to climb Half Dome. A couple of years ago the park service began a quota system that limits the amount of hikers on the Half Dome cables. It is a great thing.

I waited in line at the ranger station for a couple of hours. The rangers were super helpful and friendly. I got my permit for tomorrow. I am thankful it worked out. After getting my permit I hung out at the river soaking and more soaking and watched the sun set over the meadows. It was a relaxing day and I am excited to climb Clouds Rest tomorrow.

I spent most of my day here at the Tuolumne River

I spent most of my day here at the Tuolumne River

August 2 – Yosemite!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”
~C.S. Lewis

High Trail above Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows
22.5 miles

Ansel Adams Wilderness is a land of running water, beautiful lakes, dramatic mountains, and gentle terrain. With each step toward Tuolumne Meadows there is something new to discover and stand amazed.

I decided to hike the remaining miles into Tuolumne Meadows (big day), camp in the backpackers camping area, and try to get a permit to climb Half Dome and finish my hike in Yosemite Valley. What I didn’t anticipate was the extreme downhill from Donahue Pass! It is a knee and leg killer. Also the steps are really close together and slick from years of use. I slipped twice right on my …..

After the dramatic descent the trail is flat for miles and follows the Tuolumne River through meadows teamed with deer, snakes (I almost stepped on three) and fish. I made good time and got to the campground about 6:30 pm. There were no sites available. I walked around until Steven, a very nice young man with a big, dark beard offered to share his site. Sweet! I was able to get to the Tuolumne Meadows Store before it closed and wolfed down an apple, chips, and a Toll House Ice Cream Cookie. It turns out Steven was a wealth of information that I sure needed about getting permits, technology, and buses.

I finished the night with a campfire presentation on global warming, fossil fuels, and what can be done. It was geared for kids, interactive, and interesting. It made me really start thinking. I would like to volunteer someday and be that presenter. I am pretty excited about the prospects.

Early Morning Approach to Thousand Island Lake

Early Morning Approach to Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Grouse??

Grouse??

Celebrating Last Crossing of Major Pass - Donahoe Pass

Celebrating Last Crossing of Major Pass – Donahoe Pass

Mount Lyell - I want to climb it!

Mount Lyell – I want to climb it!

Lembert Dome - Tuolumne Meadows

Lembert Dome – Tuolumne Meadows

August 1 – The Perfect View

When your heart speaks, take good notes.
~Judith Campbell

Duck Pass Trail Junction to High Trail above Shadow Lake
15.7 walking miles
8 bus miles

I don’t even know how to begin about today…

I cruised the 10 miles into Red Meadow to enjoy a very lengthy lunch (3 hours). On the way I ran into Conner who is hiking the JMT with his dad and grandpa. They have planned for a whole year. It was heart warming meeting the trio. Back to lunch. Not only did it take a while to eat my BLT, chips, salsa, coffee, and pie, but I enjoyed visiting with Lifeboat and Magnet. They were at Reds to meet Lifeboat’s parents that will be there in a couple of days.

Everyone was so friendly and positive at the cafe. I loved the atmosphere. It also helped that I was able to contact family and friends. I decided to take the bus to the High Trail where the PCT and JMT split for a few miles. Turns out that is one of the better ideas I have had.

Within a few minutes after hitting the trail I talked to a cowboy that was leading pack horses. He was super friendly and tipped me on to the campsite I am at right now overlooking Mammoth Mountain, the Minarets, Banner, and Ritter. Super awesome! I recommend the High Trail. It is gorgeous with views, aspens, many springs, and thick lush vegetation. The only drawback is it is used by pack animals that have made the trail a fine dusty dirt., The sunset tonight was quite enjoyable and serene. I loved today.

Morning Light

Morning Light

Blow Downs from the Roots

Blow Downs from the Roots

Clearing of the Trees

Clearing of the Trees

Old Burn and Blow Downs

Old Burn and Blow Downs

Conner - JMTer

Conner – JMTer

Very Helper Packer

Very Helper Packer

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake

Sunset Over Mount Banner and Ritter

Sunset Over Mount Banner and Ritter

Mammoth Mountain at Sunset

Mammoth Mountain at Sunset

Campsite

Campsite

July 31 – Up and Down I Go

Keep your head up, keep your heart strong, keep your mind-set in your way, keep your heart strong.
-from Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard

VVR trail junction to Duck’s Lake junction
17 miles

If you were to ask me to describe the trail of the JMT, I would have to say STEEP. You are either going straight up or down. Depending on how many of those you have in a day dictates how exhausted you are in the evening. Today I had 2 ups and 2 downs in the 17 miles I walked. Essentially it is like climbing 2 full on peaks. I am entering into the Mammoth area and tomorrow I will resupply at the Red’s Meadow Store.

This morning on the way up Silver Pass I met a group ladies that are also hiking north. They are part of an adventure group “Call of the Wild”. Quite of few of the hikers were over 60 years old. Now that is very encouraging! After Silver Pass the route passes by many lakes including one of my favorites in the Sierras, Squaw Lake.

Last fall this area had a severe wind storm that blew down thousands of trees. Many organizations have been responsible for an amazing job of clearing the trees from the trail. It seems that the biggest trees fell right from the root, leaving surrounding smaller trees untouched. It is an experience just walking through.

My campsite is sitting on a rock ledge and coyotes are howling in the background.

Morning Light on the Trail

Morning Light on the Trail

North Fork

North Fork

Location of Silver Creek Waterfall Crossing in June 2011

Location of Silver Creek Waterfall Crossing in June 2011

Call of the Wild Adventure Group

Call of the Wild Adventure Group

Silver Pass Lake

Silver Pass Lake

Silver Pass Looking North

Silver Pass Looking North

Cool Trail Sign

Cool Trail Sign

Squaw Lake

Squaw Lake

Tully Hole

Tully Hole

Trail above Purple Lake

Trail above Purple Lake

Llamas on the Trail - Personal Sherpas!

Llamas on the Trail – Personal Sherpas!

Llama Partners

Llama Partners

July 30 – Nero at VVR

Bright as a Full Moon
-Eat, Sleep, Hike blog

Scott and Aedan at VVR

Scott and Aedan at VVR

My Ride

My Ride

This morning I had breakfast with 2 cool young gentleman, Scott and Aedhan. Cool partly because they let me eat with them, but mostly because they have just graduated from high school, live back east, and are doing the JMT. That is impressive. It takes a lot of planning and direction to pull it off. They are both super smart, friendly, respectful, and are both going to prestigious universities. It has been quiet here at the resort, so I stayed the day and even snarfed down a bag of chips and a Dr. Pepper and I do not feel guilty. I am planning on hiking back to the trail this evening, which is 5 miles around the lake and find a great camp spot and call it a day. I just nabbed a VERY speedy ride back to the trail head from a very helpful employee of VVR! Thanks for following along.

July 29 – Service and VVR

A man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Blayney Hot Springs to Vermillion Valley Resort
23.5 miles

The photos today are from my iPhone because my battery in my camera died and my spare battery is an off brand and kept turning off. Lesson learned, do not buy off brand batteries if you are really going to need them. For this trip I have transferred photos via my new Airstash. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the little thing!

On the way up to Selden Pass a gentleman asked me if I got information from the JMT Forums. Turns out he is one of the big advocates of the JMT, JMT Forum Host, a big researcher, gear enthusiast, and he is an expert at prolio therapy for joints. Not really sure of the exact name, but you can reach Turtle online at the JMT Forums. We of course hit it off exchanging on trail technology. Way fun.

The top of Selden Pass has a magnificent view of Marie Lakes. It is an icon and is featured in many magazines. What I would like to know is who was this Marie? And what she did she do to have such an awesome group of lakes named after her? At the pass I met Lifeboat and Magnet, a very cute and refreshing young couple soon to be married. Turns out Lifeboat proposed to Magnet on the top of Forester Pass. How romantic is that? Lifeboat’s parents were even hiking with them for a section. It was such a treat to meet these folks.

The trail then follows Bear Creek which has many swimming opportunities which I took advantage of. The trail then climbs one of my favorite ridges filled with Aspens, wildflowers, springs galore, and sports stunning views of mountains to the south. Oh on top of that I had 4 bars of cell service, so I was able to post the past few days of journals. I even updated my Track Me page that can be accessed from the top menu.

I made an assumption that the trail to VVR was about 4 miles. At 5:00 when I got to the cut off sign it said EIGHT! I then booked it to get to VVR just in time for the chef to cook the last dinner at 8:00! The most delicious red snapper and a boat load of veggies. The day was long, but very rewarding. I am hoping to take a nero tomorrow at VVR washing clothes, showering, eating, resting, and resupplying. So great.

Turtle and his Hiking Partner

Turtle and his Hiking Partner

Sally Keyes Lake

Sally Keyes Lake

Seldon Pass

Seldon Pass

Magnet and Lifeboat on Seldon Pass

Magnet and Lifeboat on Seldon Pass

Bear Creek Crossing

Bear Creek Crossing

July 28 – All Downhill to the Hot Springs

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

Muir Pass to Blayney Hot Springs
18 miles

Oh baby It was all downhill today. All eighteen miles of it, passing through Evolution Basin and Valley, that features some of the most beautiful lakes surrounded by jagged austere peaks. The weather was perfect in a place of majestic beauty.

A few years ago just below Muir Pass is the location that I happened on a hiker lady that was sitting resting on a rock, the namesake of this blog. I have talked about this experience before on this site. If  you want to read about it click here. Anyway, in the course of the brief conversation I had with a her, she changed what I thought was possible. I could hike solo and the dream of section hiking the PCT was planted. It is a constant reminder of the impact we as people can have in just a brief conversation with a stranger.

At the crossing of Evolution Creek, which was an ankle-deep ford I talked to two very friendly cute college students. It turns out one of them is hoping to go to the school two of my kids also go to. I quickly handed them a Moo card with my contact information. The two gave me important and very timely advise. They said that the ferry going to Vermillion Valley Ranch where I am resupplying is not running because the water in the lake is too low. I am now going to take the Bear Ridge Trail to VVR. They also said that I should go to the hot springs at Muir Trail Ranch. It is 1 1/2 miles off the JMT trail. So here I sit after enjoying the warm healing water in a campsite near the hot springs meadow. So great! My only wish is I got a picture of the two helpful, very cute young ladies.

As I was walking today I spotted a fully inflated balloon complete with a Spider-man Mylar balloon. I cut it out of the tree and hiked with it. People liked the balloon as I was walking. I plan on throwing it away at VVR.

As I was walking to the hot springs I met a hiker that is a back country ski guide at China Peak Ski Area. Back-country Telemark skiing is a dream I hope to do someday. It was great talking to him. I am pretty sure I talked TOO much after being by myself for 7 days. How embarrassing. Oh and there was a bear in the camp this evening. There are many campers here so I am sure he is just scouting the camps. Tomorrow……all uphill to Selden Pass!

Sunrise on Muir Pass

Sunrise on Muir Pass

Rock where I met the Lady on a Rock

Rock where I met the Lady on a Rock

Sapphire Lake

Sapphire Lake

Crossing between Sapphire and Evolution Lakes

Crossing between Sapphire and Evolution Lakes

McClure Meadow

McClure Meadow

Evolution Creek Crossing

Evolution Creek Crossing

Love this Tree

Love this Tree

Cleared Downed Trees

Cleared Downed Trees

Blayney Hot Springs

Blayney Hot Springs

Backcountry Ski Guide at Hot Springs

Backcountry Ski Guide at Hot Springs

July 27 – Sunset/Sunrise on Top Muir Pass

The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.
~Albert Einstein

Palisade Lake to Muir Pass
18.5 miles

There are many super great perks for getting on the trail early in the morning. Here are a few:
-no one else is on the trail yet
-cool temps without beating sun on your head, a hiker can in many pleasant miles with energy
-morning light and sunrises are inspiring
-animals are out in full force
-it is very quiet
The very BEST incentive is I have been on top of all the JMT passes (with the exception of Mather), including Mount Whitney all by myself without a soul around. Hard to believe, right? July in the Sierras, it is rare. Right now I am sitting in the very famous Muir Hut that sits on top of Muir Pass with my lone tent set up outside. I am here to enjoy the sunset and sunrise. The sunset was spectacular.

I am pretty sore from going down and up 3000 feet. Much of the trail up to Muir Pass was very rocky, long, and steep. I have soaked my feet and knees at my big breaks. Stretching also is a priority. Thanks Silly Chili for great wellness tips! Today I had a hard time stopping smiling while hiking. It was breathtaking at every turn. And besides I was worried about sun burning the inside of my lips. It happens you know.

Golden Staircase

Golden Staircase

Little Pete Meadow

Little Pete Meadow

Tiger Lily

Tiger Lily

Le Conte Canyon

Le Conte Canyon

Big Pete Meadow

Big Pete Meadow

Lunch Spot

Lunch Spot

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Route up Muir Pass

Route up Muir Pass

Leaving Lake Helen

Leaving Lake Helen

Campsite atop Muir Pass

Campsite atop Muir Pass

Sunset on Muir Pass

Sunset on Muir Pass

Sunset view on Wanda Lake

Sunset view on Wanda Lake

July 26 – Pinchot and Mather Passes

Today is a perfect day for a perfect day.
~Unconditional Love

Above Twin Lakes to Lower Palisade Lake
16 miles

I personally think I am camped at the most beautiful place on Earth. I did ford a stream to get to the location. It is private and on a small peninsula sitting right under the Palisade Crest that includes most of the mountains over 14000 feet in California. I was able to take a swim and wash my hair and clothes. Tomorrow another storm is predicted so I am ready.

I love the Sierras. I cannot believe the beauty and diversity. I don’t think a body could ever tire of it. I did begin
to think of this magical place as a land of snow and water, because of last June’s PCT crossing with Silly Chili and Dan. I am so thankful to be back. It is hard not to compare in my mind the two trips. Two of my most terrifying moments were crossing streams that do not even exist now. I couldn’t find them. In my opinion whether a hiker is doing the JMT in the snow or not it is one bad Momma to hike. It is unlike the PCT that usually follows the crest on high ridges. This trail goes straight down 3,000 feet then goes up 3,000 feet. There is no relief. For example tomorrow I will be hiking down from 11,000 feet to 8,000, then back up to 11,000. It is intense.

Today I was able to hike and visit with a group that are doing a trip from Onion Valley to Bishop Pass. I even nabbed some Gouda cheese and salami on the way up Mather Pass.

Morning Light on the Way Up to Pinchot Pass

Morning Light on the Way Up to Pinchot Pass

Sunrise on Pinchot Pass

Sunrise on Pinchot Pass

Kings River Crossing - Barely a Ford

Kings River Crossing – Barely a Ford

Upper Basin

Upper Basin

Approach to Mather Pass

Approach to Mather Pass

Upper Basin

Upper Basin

Mather Pass

Mather Pass

Hikers on the way up

Hikers on the Way Up

Looking Down at Mather Pass Switchbacks

Looking Down at Mather Pass Switchbacks

View of Fourteeneers from Mather Pass

View of Fourteeners from Mather Pass

Mather Pass

Mather Pass

Trail Crew Worker

Trail Crew Worker

Upper Palisade Lake

Upper Palisade Lake

Owls Clover

Owls Clover

Campsite Lower Palisade Lake

Campsite Lower Palisade Lake

July 25 – Blue Skies/Glen Pass

Above Vidette Meadow to above Twin Lakes
16.5 miles

For some stupid reason I was wide awake most of the night. What a bother! I spent a very large part of this very clear skied day yawning. :(

Today I saw a few hikers going south on the JMT. That is the usual route people hike, but not me. I am the greeting committee since I am going in the opposite direction. Hikers usually ask about how hard the passes are that are coming up because I have just finished them. I just smile BIG and say it is beautiful. Largely because the passes are all steep and at very high elevation. I have not seen another hiker going my direction since Neeko the horse.

Early morning I crossed over Glen Pass and descended into Rae Lakes Basin. If you have not visited this jewel, you just might want to add it to your, to visit list. The trail then descends 5 long steep miles to Woods Creek. After last year’s record snow the area is a littered mess. The trail then ascends steeply up a beautiful canyon that leads to Pinchot Pass that I will go over tomorrow morning. I am SUPER tired tonight.

Morning Light on Charlotte Lake

Morning Light on Charlotte Lake

Glenn Pass

Glenn Pass

View north from Glenn Pass

View north from Glenn Pass

View south from Glenn Pass

View south from Glenn Pass

Heading Down to Rae Lakes Basin

Heading Down to Rae Lakes Basin

Upper Rae Lake

Upper Rae Lake

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

It Doesn't Get Bluer than This

It Doesn’t Get Bluer than This

Love this Sign

Love this Sign

Route Down to Woods Creek

Route Down to Woods Creek

Crossing Woods Creek Bridge

Crossing Woods Creek Bridge

Golden Gate of the Sierras

Golden Gate of the Sierras

Woods Creek

Woods Creek

July 24 – Hang on Tight/Forester Pass

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to hike in the rain.

Wallace Creek to above Vidette Meadow
18 miles

What an amazing day. The weather pattern continued so I got started early to beat some of the storm. Today I climbed Forester Pass, the tallest pass on the JMT/PCT and is over 13,000 feet. It is kinda like climbing Whitney. When I got to the top, hail and wind hit. I was there like 2 seconds. Today I also visited my favorite place in the Sierras, the Bighorn Plateau. I was inspired.

The lighting all day was incredible and it rained off and on all day. Rain gear was essential and my trash compactor bag worked perfectly as a rain cover once again. I am camped in a beautiful spot with expansive views. I am clean, well fed and the storm has passed. Yaaaay!

Morning Light

Morning Light

Bighorn Plateau

View of Mount Russell and Whitney from Bighorn Plateau

Tarn on Bighorn Plateau

Tarn on Bighorn Plateau

Bighorn Plateau

Bighorn Plateau

Foxtail

Foxtail Pines

Diamond Mesa

Diamond Mesa

Looking toward Forester Pass in the Storm

Looking toward Forester Pass (middle) in the Storm

Marmot

Marmot

Forester Pass

Forester Pass

Monument on the way up Forester Pass

Monument on the way up Forester Pass

Storm at the top of Forester Pass

Storm at the top of Forester Pass

West Vidette

West Vidette Peak

View from Campsite

View of Vidette Meadow and East Vidette Peak from My Campsite

July 23 Part 2 – Don’t Get Relaxed/Mt. Whitney

Crabtree Meadow to Whitney and back then to Wallace Creek
20 miles

Right now I am holed up in my tent with rain, hail, and thunder listening to Wired’s playlist on my iPhone. Thanks Wired! You see I had this great day planned:
-Summit Whitney at sunrise, hike back to my camp at Crabtree Meadows, take a 2 hour nap, pack up and hike another 6 miles to my very special place, Bighorn Plateau.

Sounds reasonable right? Well right after I got back to camp after an amazing sunrise summit of Whitney, it started hailing and raining. I quickly threw all my gear in the tent and here I sit 3 1/2 hours later. At one point I got stuck away from my tent and couldn’t get back because of large pebble sized hail. A girl has to go to the bathroom. On top of that I stupidly drank 2 cups of Via coffee in anticipation of hiking late. I do have to add that I am very thankful that I am sheltered and dry. However, it is not reassuring that a boy scout died of lightning in this very area I am camped! Oh and now the hail is so loud I had to turn the Wired tunes off.

Enough of all that, I want to take a moment and express awe of the outstanding lighting I have experienced while hiking this trip. There really is no snow on the mountains to create interest and depth, but the shadows created essentially from sheer light is stunning. And now to get my mind off the intensity of this storm I want to talk gear.

My all time favorite new gear this season is …… my Dirty Girl Gaiters. I originally did not buy them because I thought they were obnoxious and I didn’t like the way their website was set up. By wearing them full-time it saves my socks, shoes, curtails blisters, saves time, and they are comfy and light. I even think they keep my feet cool when it is hot and warm when it is cold. Like now in my tent. I even get compliments on them all the time along with my Tarma Designs PCT earrings. On Whitney today even. So there ya go. My only wish is that I would have tried them years ago.

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Fav New Gear ~ Dirty Girl Gaiters

Sky Pilot

Sky Pilot

Hitchcock and Guitar Lake

West View from Ridge on Whitney

Sky Pilot from Whitney Window

Sky Pilot from Whitney Window

Trail heading to the top

Trail Heading to the Top

Blue WAG Bag left behind on the trail

Blue WAG Bag Left Behind on the Trail

Guitar Lake

Guitar Lake

Timberline Lake

Timberline Lake

Calm after the Storm

Calm after the Storm

July 22 – Hiking with a Horse

Horseshoe Meadow Trail Head to Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station
20 miles

I hiked into Chicken Spring Lake last night and got into camp about 8:00 pm. Just about when I was ready for bed a man and his 2 sons hiked in. It was so great to see the boys excitement when they saw the lake. The boys even popped over to my camp and eagerly said “Hi!” It brought back great memories of when I brought my daughter to this very same lake years ago.

It is fabulous to be back in the high country and I feel good, even in the high altitude. While I was soaking my feet at Guyot Creek I visited with a genuine trail horse and rider. I see pack horses, but never this. I had the pleasure of getting to know Neekos (horse) and Mendorider (rider). What a treat! Mendorider is 77 and has been backpacking, climbing, and horse packing since before I was born. He was a wealth of information and so positive with a zest for life. The duo are traveling through the Sierras on the John Muir Trail. Mendorider even aspires to emulate John Muir’s life and after listening to his truly amazing life story, he is right on track. The 2 rode behind me for the rest of the afternoon. Neekos handled rock stairs like a pro and had a fun quirky personality. I have to admit I do not know much about horses and are around them  like… never. When it was time to part ways,  I bid farewell to Mendorider  and Neekos. Mendorider then turned, smiled and said “You know… we are kindred spirits”. I smiled and nodded.

I am now camped 7.6 miles below the summit of Mount Whitney. My plan is to go to sleep early, 7:00 pm and get back on the trail heading to Whitney summit at 1:30 am. Yes, you read that correctly. I am hoping to summit at sunrise. Dan and I experienced sunrise on Whitney several years ago. It was inspiring. Right now it is lightly raining, so I will have to stay flexible. I am so getting used to that.

Morning Light on Chicken Spring Lake

Morning Light on Chicken Spring Lake

Rules for Entering National Parks

Rules for Entering National Parks

My Pack Stuffed to the Max

My Pack Stuffed to the Max

Mendorider and Neekalos

Mendorider and Neekalos

Mt. Hale, Russell, and Mt. Whitney

Mt. Hale, Russell, and Mt. Whitney

Crabtree Meadow Pit Potty

Crabtree Meadow Pit Potty

JMT Bound

Card from ladybugpress.com

Redirection is good. Right?.

The PCT in Northern Oregon needs a couple more weeks to clear of snow. Hard to believe, but true. I tried but I just don’t think finishing the Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail was in my destiny this summer.

With permit, bear canister, 8 days of food, and 3 resupplies sent, I am tackling a couple hundred miles on the PCT/John Muir Trail in the Sierras going north from Cottonwood Pass. Last June I experienced this path covered in snow and with streams that resembled swift rivers. I am looking forward to trekking this steep rugged land on dirt and rock, enjoying wildflowers, skipping over streams, seeing other hikers, and just being amongst the Range of Light.

Most of this route through the High Sierras does not have cell service, so there will be a delay in posting trail journal entries from this trip. Thank you for following along and being very supportive and motivating. It is awesome. Hope everyone is having a sweet summer!
Rockin’

For those of you that like information and data (I do) the following are facts quoted from the PCTA website:

John Muir Trail Facts:
The Pacific Crest Trail and the John Muir Trail essentially follow the same route through the Sierras and pass through what many backpackers say is the finest mountain scenery in the United States. This is a land of 13,000-foot and 14,000-foot peaks, of lakes in the thousands, and of canyons and granite cliffs. It’s also a land blessed with the mildest, sunniest climate of any major mountain range in the world.

The John Muir Trail is 211 miles long and runs (mostly in conjunction with the PCT) from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney, in California. Hiking from south to north the JMT hiker will ascend over 38,000 feet and descend over 48,000 feet. The JMT runs through 3 National Parks: Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia. When not within a National Park, it runs through Inyo National Forest, including the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas. The trail also passes through the Devils Postpile National Monument near Red’s meadow. The elevation of the JMT seldom dips below 8,000 feet (2,400 m). The trail crosses six mountain passes in excess of 11,000 feet (3,400 m); from north to south, they are: Donohue Pass, Muir Pass, Mather Pass, Pinchot Pass, Glen Pass, and Forester Pass. At 13,153 feet (4,009 m), Forester Pass is the highest point along the Pacific Crest Trail and the second-highest pass along the JMT (after Trail Crest on the Mount Whitney Trail).

Pics and Plans

“The more you celebrate your life, the more there is to celebrate.”
~Oprah Winfrey

After a brief rest I am off and running and hope to be back on the trail in Oregon the week of July 16th with a new strategy. My hope is that some of the snow has melted by then, that some of the PCT hikers will be hitting this section, and I won’t be the only hiker up there battling the big mounds of evil snow.

Looking back there were so many events while hiking this last section that just fell into place. I learned so many things from the land, plants, animals, and more importantly from the people who have touched my life. I feel confident and open for my next adventure.

My real photos are now on Flickr from the 240 mile section from Bucks Summit to Castella, CA:

Here are a few of my favs from this section:

Festival at the Feather River

Festival at the Feather River

Drakesbad

Drakesbad

View of Mount Shasta from the Hat Creek Rim

View of Mount Shasta from the Hat Creek Rim

Lush Forest

Lush Forest

Fisherman at Burney Falls

Fisherman at Burney Falls

Creek

Creek

Storm clearing over Mount Shasta

Storm clearing over Mount Shasta

View of Castle Crags

View of Castle Crags

Clear Cut with Remaining Dead Oak Trees

Clear Cut with Remaining Dead Oak Trees

Celebrating Finishing all 1661 Miles of California

Celebrating Finishing all 1661 Miles of California

June 30 – When to Turn Back

The phrase “do not be afraid” is written in the Bible 365 times. That’s a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless.

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PCT Mile 1854 to mile 1858 plus unknown miles cross-country to Diamond Lake
Daily total = Unknown miles

I don’t even know where to begin. Giving up is not something I do often. But one thing this trail has taught me is to be aware and listen to my inner voice. Especially when the voice whispers, “Stop this, it is wrong and dangerous.”

I had a great night. After being on the trail for some time my body has a new rhythm and the every day nagging aches and pains are less bothersome. A natural sequence of daily routines has become automatic. It is at this point the thru-hiker emerges.

I knew I would be encountering solid snow early on because the route through the Mount Theilsen Wilderness travels up to 7400. My experience from yesterday led me to believe that solid snow started at 6900 feet. This is everywhere, not just on the typical north side of the mountains. The ranger at Crater Lake said they had a late winter and a very cool and rainy spring, hence the snow. He thought it might take another month for the snow to melt. My strategy was to go at least 25 miles in and see how it went.

As the morning continued, the trail was progressively harder to follow with no evidence of any one having passed before me. I soon was frustrated and simply picked the best route rather than to try following the trail.

I know this is not a new fact, but Oregon has A LOT of trees of all sizes and they are scattered everywhere. When it snows the small ones just kind of lay down ready to be unleashed at any moment. The little trees simply spring back into place. I now call them mouse traps. The hiker steps anywhere close to them and they spring to life, cutting and bruising the daylights out of the traveler. At least that is what happened to me.

After a few miles I was bleeding, one knee was hurting, and my wrist ached and I had not even fallen. After turning a corner and the distant view was clear, all I could see was snow under trees for miles, I knew I needed to turn back and find a way out.

Using Halfmile’s paper map combined with Topo Maps on my iPhone, I charted a cross-country route down to Diamond Lake plotting way points on my iPhone. This usually is a very bad idea in the back-country going off trail, so I hiked up the mountain for just enough service to text and let Wired and my husband know at what mile I was leaving the trail and where I was heading. I would not have left the trail if I was unable to notify someone of my intended route.

It took a few hours picking through downed trees to make it to highway 138. After road walking south for a couple of miles, I walked into the Mount Thielsen trail head parking lot. A group of hikers were there and I knew to ask for help. It turns out they had hiked in and had to turn around because of snow and were trying to decide what to do. They were very helpful and gave me a ride to Diamond Lake Resort. After looking at maps, I determined it was safest to come back to Southern Oregon in a few weeks.

The group offered to give me a ride back to the now stormy Crater Lake where I could get transportation to where I needed to go. I know I am so being watched over.

I weighed out all of my options: going south bound in Oregon from the Oregon-Washington border (I have always hiked northward), skip up to where there is no snow in Oregon (but I would be too early to hike Washington, they got a lot of snow), or go home to my super loving husband. Not a hard decision. So back I go home by trolley and train.

I am really bummed and bruised, but so very thankful for my safety, support of so many people, and for the opportunity to even be on the Pacific Crest Trail. It is early in the summer and what better opportunity to get in some climbs and visit my grandkids before hitting Oregon again.

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June 29 – Be Careful What You Wish For

Crater Lake Rim Oregon to South of Mount Thielsen (mile 1854)
Crater National Park and Mount Thielsen Wilderness
20 miles

Transportation to Crater Lake went off super smooth. I was feeling excited about sailing through Oregon. I have always heard it is easy miles because there are not large amounts of elevation gains and losses. Yep, I was feeling pretty snappy, until I beheld the 10 foot snow banks at Crater Lake. You see while hiking the PCT this season I often have missed the snow because there was so little in California.

I started out on the PCT which follows the rim of Crater Lake very closely. After about a mile I was forced down to the highway by cornices on the edge. Then it started to rain. Due to large snow banks, I decided to road walk, which worked well because the road often dips close to the rim with spectacular views of the sapphire giant. After a few miles I joined the equestrian PCT, that is when the mosquitoes came out in full force. Nothing a little Deet, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and fashionable head-net won’t take care of. As the trail dropped below 6600 feet the snow disappeared. I am feeling a little anxious about the snow tomorrow as the trail will be at 7400 elevation.
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