Saturday, June 21, 2008

Day 2 - Rae Lakes to Twin Lakes

The adventure began a mile down the trail when Jane realized she left
her toe socks behind. I told her it would be a forty minute roundtrip
but she loves those cozy socks and went back for them. Exactly 43
minutes later (20 there, 3 to look around camp, and 20 back), she
returned.

Several miles later, it was my turn to waste time. Following the wrong
trail at a swift and deep stream crossing, I led us around rockslides
next to the raging waters. Periodic disagreements about why we were
going this way also slowed our progress. I had a good sense where the
trail should be and after a while we found it.

Not long after discovering the trail, I let Jane go ahead so I could
"make water" as a certain author puts it. I saw her down the trail and
took off to catch up. As it happened, she took a potty break for a
moment as well, but I didn't see her, and the trail kept bending so I
couldn't get a clear view of what was in front. A half hour of stream
crossings at a quick pace (trying to catch up but wondering, where is
she?) led me to the bridge in the picture over Woods creek - which is
referred to as the "Golden Gate of the Sierras." Tarzan & Zelda were
there but Jane was not. Yikes. I was mildly panicked but gave her ten
minutes just in case nothing was wrong. As you can see from the
picture, she made it. However during this time of separation, she
didvmanage to slip and fall, putting a hole in her pants and an 8 inch
scratch on her leg, which has been lovingly surrounded by bruises. But
really, she's fine.

We spent a long lunch creekside before tackling a steep (and as Jane
would say, horrendous) five mile climb to Twin Lakes where we camped
with Tarzan, Zelda and 100,000 mosquitos. It's hard to eat dinner with
a head net on! Two or three years ago, T&Z had a bear steal 8 days of
food from them in this very campsite. We're all carrying the
canisters though so it shouldn't be a problem...

Day 1 - Glen Pass to Rae Lakes

The scenery is so beautiful, a picture every day is our new goal.

Jane shot this lakeside at lower Rae Lakes and the far ridge lit by
the sun is Glen Pass which we came over today. The snow on the side
you see made for a fun traverse and some delightful glissades. Only
fourteen miles today but we are all BEAT!

Fortunately, the $5 footlongs from Subway we carried up became more
delicious than anything normally offered by Subway. Appetite and
altitude should figure into the marketing strategy of Jared's favorite
food emporium.

JMT 101

After 7 days of hiking, we are currently enjoying an afternoon at VVR
(Vermillion Valley Resort), where we scrubbed off 7 days of stink, and
were surprised to find a wifi signal. We will be posting several posts
shortly with an overview of the last week, but before we do that, we
wanted to give you an overview of the JMT (John Muir Trail), so you
have a good idea of some of the things we're discussing.

First, the JMT is probably some of the prettiest land you'll ever see,
but with all that beauty, there is a price. After 800 miles of hiking,
the JMT makes me feel out of shape. It is hard terrain.

The JMT is composed of 8 passes, which is a low point between two
mountains (low being around 11,000 to 13,000 feet), and the river
valleys between the passes. So you go up and then you go down - over
and over again.

Generally, going over a pass consists of a long slog uphill, then as
more snow is on the ground, you lose the trail and begin to follow
footsteps in the snow. Soon you find the trail, only to lose it again
over and over. Eventually, you're scrambling over rocks in a direct
line towards switchbacks you think are up there somewhere. If you're
really lucky, some of the switchbacks will be covered in snow and your
faith in God grows stronger as you cross the snow on which you mustn't
slip lest you drop several hundred feet to your mother's greatest fear.

The last breathless stretch is usually snow free, except for Muir Pass
which we'll cover later, and you crest the hill with elation and
depression because, hey, let's face it, you've still got 10 or 12
miles to go.

Coming down the other side you start in lots of snow, follow footsteps
until you hit rocks, keep looking far down for a glimpse of trail and
slip your way through snow and mud until the trail becomes solid
around 10,000 feet.

That about covers it. Enjoy the show!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

To the Class of 2008

Happy Father's Day

To my dad on his thirtieth, and my brother on his first, Happy
Father's Day. May all the times you balance your baby on one knee and
hot coffee on the other, only result in scolding, not scalding.