JMT Day 18

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September 6, 2002 31º-41º @BSH

Up by 8:00, we circled around the very long, and very popular Rae’s Lakes, where there is a Ranger station and a few bear boxes. After passing those, the trail immediately ascends to Glen Pass. We reached Glen Pass (11,978′) by 11:00 or even earlier. The weather was windy and cold, and overcast with occasional sprinkles. Saw quite a few other hikers today.

Ascending Glen Pass (11,978′)

We reached Upper Vidette Meadows by 3:30, and decided to camp rather than risk bad weather at exposed campsites closer to Forester Pass. Lots of good camping sites close to the bear box; someone else was fairly close, but the temptation of level campsites, sandwiched in among protruding, flat granite boulders, and a few trees nearby frowm which to hang clothes made the site attractive. It’s hard to explain, but sometimes the camping in the Sierra can be downright luxurious. The granite boulders of varying size provide both walls and furniture. The larger, flat ones tended to separate “rooms” from one another, as well as providing a good spot to dry socks on or for a tired hiker to lie back upon. Smaller boulders are excellent chairs, as well as stove tops, tables, and other kitchen furniture. In a site like the one we chose this day, some of the bed sites have obviously been used hundreds if not thousands of times in the past. And popular sites also usually have a kitchen separate from the sleeping areas. Sure enough, there was an old fire ring and some seats set around an area under a large tree about 100 feet from the sleeping area. About the only amenity not handy at this site was water; although there was a rushing mountain stream (Bubbs Creek) nearby, the trail to it ran through some heavy undergrowth, and the stance at the edge of the stream one had to assume to pump water was a bit akward. But the view of Mt. Stanford made the chore a bit more bearable.

Back at camp, I watched low-lying clouds rushing up the valley and scraping along the Kearsarge Pinnacles. This was one of those times where I felt my handy Yashica T-4 camera woefully inadequate. I wished I’d had my Minolta with various lenses—a zoom would have alowed for some great pictures here; then I thought about the additional four or five pounds and regretted no more. I resigned myself to etching mental images, hopefully permanent, instead.

Outside the tent at the only other occupied site there are a couple of backpacks, they look a bit odd becuase they’re relatively old-fashioned. The proprietor of the tent, an older gentleman, invites us to chat but we decide to put it off until morning. Determined not to have a repeat of the sleepless night at Marjorie Lake, I use some nearby trees to rig up my tarp to cover equipment since there had been a few sprinkles the previous night; if it rains, I’ll just hunker down in my bivy bag. Todd is concerned that my tarp will flap and make a lot of noise if high winds return (even though he’s about thirty feet away). I secure and resecure the tarp as taut as I can.

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