6:01 am start. Again, no breakfast. Just coffee and hot chocolate in our little cook nook. Our kitchen in the outdoors within the little space between the pine trees and the rocks near our camp that is protected from the wind. We rose at 4:40am and moved fast though exhaustion had set in.
Peter even suggested staying in the sleeping bags for our hot chocolate. I suggest breaking camp and busting a move. Break the comfort so we can move on. Yes, comfort. The things that prevents most people from doing most everything out of the ordinary routine.
The morning prior, I could have stayed at our beautiful camp at Glen Lake for hours tucked snugly in the sleeping bag. But as we did every other day, we got out of the relative warmth and into the cold air, and right into our filthy hiking clothes. It gets harder when all the hot drinks are gone and camp is broken, leaving one last thing: remove the cozy warmth of the down jacket and start to walk with an empty stomach. Especially hard when at 11,500 feet and light dawn has yet to arrive like that night at Glen Lake.
With many miles to walk, we removed the comfort and stepped onto the trail. With an energy bar to nibble on for the first 3 hours we moved silently along the trail. Halfway up Forester Pass, the highest pass of the JMT at 13,200 feet, we finally stop for the first breakfast. What started as breakfast turned into brunch and now has been split in two. Man, was I hungry. I knew we’d be in calorie deficit but walking up tot ten hours a day while hungry was not easy.
waiting for the sun to rise on the trail
Still waiting for the sun and haven’t eaten breakfast #1 yet…
We continued up the pass and surprisingly, the effort felt easy. We had a good groove going and just like the same hike fourteen years earlier, it felt like we could walk endless miles in that wonderful place of abundant nature.
Peter set the pace as always and we reached the pass in no time. Some guys on the way down opposite to us pass us on the ascent and remark on the pack situation ‘Shouldn’t that be the other way around?’. Again, they are baffled that a girl carried the bulk of things. Only my load looked heavier than it was. We were down to a minimal of food and the bear canisters were almost empty. Peter actually had more weight than me those last few days.
Going up Forester Pass
Nice hat, Pete…
Felt easy to be over 13,000 feet
Little time was spent at the top and we literally ran down the other side. Big mistake. I’d pay for weeks from that downhill run with my big pack.
It felt like another stretch of walking on the moon over Forester Pass. The tree line lies at least 2000 feet below. Soon we reached the foxtail pine forest that stimulates the imagination. It’s magical with the gnarled, twisted glowing burnt umber trees juxtaposed against the vibrant blue of the sky. A few clouds whisked their way across the blue hue creating the perfect composition of color and shape for the artist in all of us.
Looking over the other side of Forester Pass, where we will descend to…
The trees match my hair and the coat of the fox. The intense sun is like an outlet for the trees to plug into, illuminating the wood still standing, polished by the wind and weather of many years passed. Each tree stands unique, almost like people, populating the forest.
These trees fascinated us as we moved through their domain. On and on we walked and loved each painful step. With very few breaks we made good time but began to pay for the effort. This marvelous trip that left us both satisfied but excited to be one day from the end. One long, hard day from the vehicle waiting for us at Whitney Portal.
just getting back into the trees…
We covered twenty seven miles in just under ten hours of hiking. Strangely it felt quite normal. Knowing there was only one day left until re-entry into the ‘real world’, whatever that is, made us appreciate it all.
Arriving at camp early despite the long distance we enjoyed two and a half whole hours of daylight. Peter met the second Ranger who helped him out some nineteen years before and had a chance to say thanks as he did to the first Ranger back at Rae Lakes. He’s a wonderful man with clear eyes. When he finds out we met and spoke to Dario, Ranger #1, he smiled and said ‘my brother…’. Beautiful.
And then one last sleep in our nature’s bedroom was entered into, exhaustion making the lapse between conscious and subconscious all but non-existent.