Today marked two weeks on the John Muir Trail. Wow. Given I had only ever been on a trail for six days in the past, it definitely sunk in as quite a milestone.
This morning I attempted to deal with the severe case of chaffing that I had been experiencing over the last few days. I came up with a good idea of cutting the Yosemite buff Ken gave me for the trip and use it as a buffer between my shorts/pants and the chaffing. I felt bad to ruin the gift, however I figured Ken would appreciate that I used it in a problem solving situation! The concept worked, I just needed to figure out the best way to secure the buff.
The first part of the trail wasn’t the greatest given it was a pretty good incline to start. However, I kept on thinking that since we “only” had 2,000′ incline up to Pinchot Pass, the later part would be easier since we were knocking so much out early. (As you can guess, this under-estimating Pinchot Pass did come back to bite me). Once I arrived at the tope of the initial incline past Bench Lake, I had a blast resting and watching the fish activity on a small, unnamed lake.
Along the way, you pass Lake Majorie, which would have been a good place to camp before (or after) Pinchot Pass.
Then came the “easier” hike up to Pinchot Pass. Hah! I vowed never to underestimate a pass again! Not only did this part of the trail have some steep, climbing parts, there were several “false passes” where you would turn the corner and see you were still not there! Thus, it was more of a struggle for me, and it wasn’t until 10:20am that I made the pass, three hours to do the four miles from my camp site.
While it wasn’t the best hiking performance, the views, of course were worth it. Especially to the south, with another incredible view over a basin. It wasn’t as large as Upper Basin, and the mountain vistas were closer, but it was almost as equally impressive.
I didn’t stay too long on the pass given that I knew I wasn’t performing as well today and there was a 3,800′ decline that had to be undertaken. I had to get moving if I wanted to start the uphill to Glenn Pass. While this part of the trail was very scenic at the start with all the mountains, it became clear early that this “downhill” will not be as easy as other downhills experienced so far. Additionally, it seemed like it was a hotter day.
Wyatt had mentioned about doing a 16 mile day and getting halfway up Glenn Pass. These young adults were really getting their stamina, and being a little homesick, were looking to shorten their trip. I knew 16 miles was going to be a stretch for me after experiencing the pass. Maybe it was the 17 mile day yesterday, or maybe I just didn’t “have it” today, but after the very tedious, dry last few miles of the decline, I knew I wasn’t going to make it as far as Cassie and Wyatt, so I bid them adieu a mile or so before the Woods Creek Trail, where the Golden Gate of the Sierras is crossed.
The last couple miles uphill were manageable given that it was mostly in shade and the incline was steady. I was able to find a really nice camp site next to the creek, with enough time to wash off and rinse clothes before the sun went behind the canyon walls. I then went through the task of filtering water, however, when investigating the reason water wasn’t coming out, broke the source-side of the pump, this time for good. Iodine tablets for me the rest of the way!
I spent the rest of the time getting myself ready for another big day. Beautiful Rae Lakes followed by the steep trail over Glen Pass. I won’t be underestimating this one!