JMT 2016: Second Section (7 days), Rae Lakes to Muir Trail Ranch
Day 9: I was reminded all night that I would prefer to sleep in my long underwear, but the night before I had washed ALL my clothes. I was in my sleeping bag nekkid. My clothes were draped over every branch of all the trees around out camp, so it looked like the Beverly Hillbillies were camped here. They had not dried much overnight, and were still quite damp. I put on my damp clothes, and had some oatmeal and coffee before we hit the trail. We took one last look at the Rae Lakes and peak called Painted Lady.
Jim and I left early and Luke and Ian were to catch up with us later. Ian talked to a ranger at Rae Lakes, and was given a canister of fuel. Jim and I stopped at Woods Creek, which was below 10,000′, and thus wood fires were allowable. We made a wood fire and cooked our evening meal, planning to eat lunch foods for dinner, when we would be above 10,000′ and thus could not have a wood fire.
Zoom and his crew were at the bridge, and he showed me a cool camera tripod and dirt scoop. Jim and I had Pesto Pasta with salmon for lunch, and a pack of salmon for a trail snack. After a big cooked lunch, we crossed the bridge over Woods Creek and started up Wood Creek, destination Twin Lakes. The mid morning meal seem to sap me of energy, and before we got to Twin Lakes, I was bonked. Ian had found a campsite in some big trees, and I was glad to quit for the day. We had hiked about 10 miles. We were below the trail to Sawmill Pass, maybe 3 miles short of Twin Lakes. Zoom and his crew were headed to Twin Lakes, so we consoled ourselves that our camp site was uncrowded. We were camped about 100′ from a busy mountain stream, so I took my filthy long sleeve nylon shirt down to the creek, and put in a rocky pocket, weighted down by a rock. I left it in the spin cycle, hoping it would be sparkling clean the next morning. My light tan shirt was filthy with dirt, even though I had washed it with soap about every other day.
Day 10: The next morning, my shirt was pretty clean, but still dirty looking. Don’t bring light tan clothes. Jim’s identical shirt, but a dark gray in color, looked nice and clean by contrast. We got going slowly, and headed to Pinchot Pass. I don’t remember this pass as hard, I just put it in low gear and seemed to float up the pass. Our packs were a little lighter than when going over Glen Pass, the hardest butt kicker to far. Far harder than Forester. The alpine pools below Pinchot Pass were beautiful.
We got to the pass at the same time as Luke and Ian, and also met Yoshihiro Murakami, aka Hiro, aka aLow Gear, and his photographer companion. Hiro has done a tremendous amount of hiking around the world. and I think he has done the JMT or parts of it several times. Their packs looked incredibly heavy, with big camera gear.
I remembered we had taken a picture of the same spot in 1971, so I created the shot as best I could. Below, me in 2016 on Pinchot Pass, with Lake Marjorie behind.
Below: Chuck Ringrose on Pinchot Pass, 1971.
From Pinchot pass, we headed down past Lake Marjorie, down to the So. Fork of the Kings River and up the Kings River, destination as close to Mather Pass as we could get. Where we crossed the King River I stepped on a rock that rolled, and I fell backwards with my legs all twisted. I lay there for a second and thought “I might have hurt something in that little slip.” I upclipped my pack belt, got my shoulder straps off, and untwisted my legs. I lay on the grass nearby for 5 minutes or so, and finally concluded that I was OK.
We got to about the 10,500′ elevation, and Ian found us a nice campsite. We had hiked about 11.5 miles today, and reached camp at 5 pm. Jim and I had started at 7 am, Luke and Ian started at 10. Jim and I had swam in the Kings River at a lower elevation, and Jim swam near our camp.
below: setting up camp on the Kings River, 10,500′:
Timelapse of clouds at camp on Kings River:
We again saw Hiro and friend as they passed through on the trail. Their packs were huge, and heavy.
Day 11: Today took us over Mather Pass, to the beautiful Palisade Lakes. Below: stream south of Mather Pass.
South of Mather Pass.
Below:from the top of Mather Pass looking down at Palisade Lakes.
As we got close to Palisade Lake, it started to rain. The picture below is near where we camped, above the upper Palisade Lake.
It started to rain and hail at 2:45, so we decided to camp a little short of our mileage goal, but it was a beautiful area. We probably did 8 miles today. We decided that if it rained on future days, we needed to put on rain gear and keep going. We had pasta carbonarra with bacon tonight. Very delicious.
Day 12: Jim and I took off to get to Big Pete Meadow today, and I didn’t see the Wilnerds all day. Below: our last look back at Palisade Lake.
We went down the Golden Staircase, and had some easy and fast hiking on Palisade Creek.
I caught up with Zoom and his group of 11 paying clients at Grouse Meadow, about 10 miles into the day.
Below: Zoom and crew at Grouse Meadow.
I kept going in light rain to Big Pete Meadow, for a total day’s mileage of 12 miles. Jim showed up in a bit, and said he had seen the Wilnerds earlier in the day, but not lately. It rained a bit but not really hard. We cooked dinner in the rain shadow of a tree, on a wood fire. A doe and her fawn were pretty comfortable around the meadow and camp. Jim hiked back to see if he ran into the Wilnerds, and found them camped about 4 miles back. So he added 8 miles to his mileage today.
Day 13: We waited for about 2 hours for the Wilnerds to show up, then headed for Muir Pass. This part of the trail was new to me, because in our 1971 trip we had to head out to Lake Sabrina after hitting Evolution Lake. I was very excited to break the Muir Pass curse, and get to Evolution Lake via Muir Pass. Below: headed up from Big Pete Mdw.
climbing climbing climbing
The sweet taste of victory, topping out at the Muir Trail hut. We were on top at 2:30.
Below: our gang at the hut.
Below: the gazelles heading down from Muir Pass, headed to Evolution Lake.
Below: Evolution Lake, after a 12 mile day. Jim and I washed clothes, and had scalloped potatoes with bacon.
Below: time lapse over Evolution Lake
The Milky Way from Evolution Lake. I’m still learning this photo skill. My problem is getting sharp focus.
Day 14: We would head toward Muir Trail Ranch, but likely would not make it all the way there. We forded the creek at the lower part of Evolution Meadow.
Luke was especially keen on getting to MTR before 5, as he seemed to be starving to death. He hiked on ahead, hoping to get access to the hiker bins where hikers put their excess food and supplies. We found the famous John Muir rock, but the angle of the light made the inscription very hard to read. It says “1917 Muir Trail”. My shirt is quite a bit cleaner than Jim’s by the way.
The rest of us got to MTR there a little later, and found a camping spot in a public camping area near the river, and about half a mile from the MTR gate. This had been a 15 mile day, and I felt pretty good. Luke got to the hiker buckets before the 5 pm cut off and scored several energy bars.
After we had dinner we headed down to the river, forded it, and searched for Blayney Hot Springs. We searched all over the place, and finally returned to a black mud hole we had passed up earlier as being too filthy for immersion. We put one foot in the dark and muddy water, and decided to take a mud bath. The temperature was perfect, it was about 4′ deep, and we soaked until our fingerprints were pruny. Tomorrow we would walk through the gates of Muir Trail Ranch where they would sing songs for us and throw rose petals on us, and we could have a hot shower and hot food in the evening, and sleep in a real bed.