Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Day 14: One Foot In Front Of The Other

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lower Rae Lake (mile 182.4) to 1.5 miles south of Center Basin Creek (mile 198.6).

Today's miles: 16.2
Trip miles: 198.6

I wanted to be up by 6 am this morning and moving by 7, but I was so warm and comfortable in my sleeping bag, all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. Luckily I had some help from mother nature.

Like many places along the John Muir Trail, the Rae Lakes area certainly requires more time for exploration.

Upper Rae Lake
Rainbow trout in Upper Rae Lake
I include in the above statement Sixty Lake Basin. A friend who hiked the John Muir Trail a few years ago told me it was worth the detour, and he was right! I only ventured 2 miles into the Sixty Lake Basin and am convinced I will return one day to explore further.

another gorgeous lake in the Sixty Lake Basin

Just as I made my way back to the JMT, I ran into none other than the Trio from T.O. - Scott, Bryan and Mark. (Though Bryan isn't from Thousand Oaks, CA, he doesn't mind being an honorary member.) Really glad I got to see them because I didn't think I would as they plan to finish the trail two days after I do. We chatted for a while and then we were off for Glen Pass.

Looking west headed towards Glen Pass
View north looking back at Rae Lakes
Going up the pass I began having intense food and drink cravings. I craved fresh coconut water straight from the coconut. My next craving was the meat of the coconut. Then I craved a big bowl of salad, followed by every kind of fruit you can think of, except durian.

Once at the summit, I was greeted by a guy who was sitting there painting the landscape. Mark was right on my tail and summited a few minutes later. After taking in the view, we noticed a hang line of multicolored napkin like articles placed between the rocks. Upon further inspection, Mark stated they were Tibetan(?) prayer flags.

hangin out at Glen Pass - elevation 11,924 ft
view south from Glen Pass
Prayer flags at Glen Pass 
close up of prayer flag
The painter exclaimed that they were religious pollution and didn't belong there. He wanted us to be sure we knew he was an atheist. To each his own.

A few minutes later, Scott and Bryan also made their way up. We finally took a group photo at the pass. I lounged about at Glen Pass for 45 minutes, and at noon, began the long descent into the canyon below. But before I left, a national parks employee showed up and inquired if we had placed the prayer flags there. Once again, the painter went off about the flags being religious polluton. The employee stated that they were pollution and removed them because it would lead others to do the same. Personally, I agree that leaving anything but one's footprints is polluting the land.

The further we descended from Glen Pass, the better the views became. Charlotte Lake and the canyon below were really beautiful. It did sprinkle now and again, but nothing too bad. I do appreciate all the menacing clouds for the shade they provide and for the dramatic photos I've been taking for the past 10 days.

Charlotte Lake

another cool rock
Around 2 pm, I reached the junction for Bullfrog Lake. From this point south, I hiked the John Muir Trail to Mt. Whitney in 2011. It was a very high snow year and I'm curious to see how different the trail is this year compared to last year.

At Vidette meadow, there were sunglasses at the trail marker that I was really tempted to take (having lost mine 6 days earlier), but with all the cloud cover and being only two days from Mt. Whitney, I figured someone else might need them more than me and left them as they were.

A few minutes after reaching the junction, it began to hail. Nothing major though, just bb size pellets falling to the earth for 5 minutes. Fifteen minutes later, it began to sprinkle, which after about 10 minutes turned into hail again for another 5 minutes. The rain and hail didn't warrant rain gear, though they did cool me down and make the rocks slick enough for me to pay closer attention to the trail.

I reached Center Basin Creek at 3:47 pm and couldn't believe the difference in the flow of water this year compared to last. It still had good water flow, but last year it was swollen to more than twice the size.

It was early when I reached the creek and the clouds were breaking, so I kept hiking. I wanted to reach Bubbs Creek 2.9 miles due south, but stopped short of that as I passed tree line and the winds grew stonger. I figured if I kept going, it would undoubtedly get colder, so the wise choice was to stop.

above treeline north of Forester Pass
View south, north of Bubbs Creek, south of Center Basin Creek 
Campsite 2.9 miles north of Forester Pass
beautiful sunset north of Forester Pass
With only two more nights out here (tonight included), my mind has been in the clouds, daydreaming of this-and-that and making post-hike plans, as if it were a forgone conclusion that I will summit Mt. Whitney in a few days. I kept telling myself there's lots of hiking to do yet and nothing is for certain every time I caught myself chasing a daydream.

The three near slips and falls today somewhat helped me stay present and focus on where I plant my foot next, but they weren't enough of a deterrent to stop me from daydraming. This must happen to every hiker, especially those hiking solo like myself. When I hiked with others, I didn't daydream as much, but most of today I hiked solo, and being close to the finish is making me excited!
”When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” ~Ansel Adams

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