See a YouTube slide show of the first half of the hike here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfTmobpnlmg
The first full day of hiking on the JMT was enjoyable but tough. On any extended backcountry trip, mileage is important. It’s good to have a zero day planned in your itinerary just in case you are coming up short each day. Our goal was to do 9-10 miles per day. For a seasoned hiker, easy enough – right? Well let me tell you from experience, pack weight is everything. If your pack is heavy, your speed and distance drop. Anyhow, I tend to err on the side of caution and bring a few extra things . Bottom line is you will determine what you absolutely need because the extra weight will slow you down.
We would have a good breakfast of eggs and bacon before leaving Rosalie Lake. My brother would fish a bit and pull in a couple of rainbow trout. As would be the norm for our week, we would break camp late and hit the trail by midmorning. No need to rush out here, you just hike until you want to stop. Yesterday’s climb of 1,800 ft brought us up to our current altitude of 9,400. Today, we would have a handful of SUDS (senseless ups/downs before going back up to around 10,000.
There is water everywhere in this section of the JMT in July. Brooks, streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, tarns, lakes – omigosh. Even with minimum snow this year, this area has plenty in early summer. We would pass Shadow Lake, which appeared to be approx. 1,000 meters long and 300-400 m wide. The views were really beginning to open up now. As we passed to the south and west of Shadow Lake, we came upon Shadow Creek which we would follow for a few miles. Its’ cascades were fast and amazing. Something about fast-moving water just leaves you in awe. The noise and the way the current flows around rocks and down the gullies is so cool. Around every turn was another beautiful view. We would see Banner Peak and Mt Ritter in the distance, both majestic in their own accord.
We would leave the cascades of Shadow Creek and began a steady 1,400 foot climb into a canyon that seemed to have a dead-end. The boulders and scree were large as we picked our way to the top of the canyon. The wind really picked up and was gusting 20-30mph. It was starting to sprinkle a bit. Nearing lunchtime, we found a tarn with a small stand of trees that offered some shelter. Garnet Lake was below and in the distance, there were numerous dark cumulus clouds. We need to keep an eye on those clouds. One thing I’ve learned is to avoid peaks and passes during mid-day storms. In the Sierras, summer afternoon thunderstorms are common, especially when it has been hot. The heat wave that hit the Sierras created a recipe for strong storms. We would have our lunch amidst the little trees while the wind buffeted us as we held our belongings. We broke out the rain gear as intermittent sprinkles were pelting us. Below on Garnet Lake, you could see whitecaps blowing across the lake. There was some serious wind down there.
The wind calmed a bit as we got back on the trail and descended to the lake. We met a rider and his mule who said that his animal would not cross the log bridge across the Garnet Lake Outlet. Another southbound hiker said earlier the winds around the lake were gusting between 40-50 mph. Well, that will take your toupee’ off. Filtering some water, we started a hot climb out of Garnet and topped out around 10,400 ft. The afternoon sun and heat really saps the energy. We prayed for some cloud cover and were rewarded with a nice forest covering before we descended to Ruby Lake. Quite a few nice campsites around this little lake, but we wanted to go a bit farther. We use this Katadyn water filter, it is fantastic: Katadyn Vario Multi Flow Water Microfilter
We were reaching the end of our hiking day as we neared Emerald Lake. It was an awesome lake, but camping was prohibited between here and Thousand Island Lake to the northwest. I scouted out some sites nearby, not realizing that it was still a no camping zone. Dropping my pack at the top of a granite outcropping, I went back a few hundred yards to tell my wife and brother about the potential sites. Another southbounder reminded them about the no-camping zones around these lakes. Drat, I had found a nice spot with killer views. Oh well, there is a side trail on the north side of Thousand Island, we will go there. As I returned to retrieve my pack, I noticed a big fat marmot sniffing my pack. Still a hundred yards away, I yelled but it ignored me. For some reason I thought about the gophers in Caddyshack. I started running up the granite slope and picked up a few rocks which I threw at the vermin. He trotted off, fussing at me. “Au revoir gopher”.
Fortunately, I made it to my pack before it was pillaged. Lesson learned, don’t leave your pack alone for long – especially if there’s food in it. The lake below was the best one yet. We made our way west on a side trail and began looking for a site. You have to hike another half mile or so and if you get there late, most of the good sites have been taken. We did find a granite slab about 100 ft. from the lake and it was stellar. If you hike the JMT, I highly recommend camping around Thousand Island Lake. The mosquitoes were bad, but ourheadnets and long sleeves kept them at bay. I imagine that there are less bloodsuckers in late Aug/early September. To cut down on mosquitoes, we treated our stuff with Permethrin: Sawyer Products Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 24-Ounce
We were bushed and actually ate dinner in our tents. The cool night air wafted through our tents. Sleep would come quickly…..
July 16, 2013 | Categories: Camping, Hikes in the Sierras, Hiking | Tags: Backcountry, Banner Peak, camping, Emerald Lake, High Sierra Hiking, Hiking the JMT, JMT, John Muir Trail, Ruby Lake, Shadow Lake, Thousand Island Lake, Yosemite | 4 Comments