Zippers, feet, and creeks. I started the day by pondering over zippers and how critial they are to backpacking. Tent doors, backpack pouches, puffy jackets, there are just so many things that would be so much harder without them . . . what’s the next invention to take the zipper’s place. I pondered this as I was packing up my sleeping bag and Izzie was boiling up some coffee for breakfast as a part of our morning ritual. We placed a stroopwaffle under our warm mug to make them like freshly baked cookies.
Soon once all the cooking was done, Izzie went to the creek to tend to her foot, and I packed up our damp tent. Pro tip, if you camp near a creek or river, it’s highly likely you’ll have a ton of condensation on your tent and sleeping bag, so be sure to find some time at lunch to unroll them and dry out before you reach camp for the next night (no one likes to crawl into a wet tent).
Back to feet: Izzie suspected she had broken a bone in her foot weeks before on a work trip, and on the descent from Mount Whitney she twisted her ankle agrivating the injury and making both her ankle and foot painfully swollen. She was taking it in her stride, dousing it in the river whenever the opportunity presented itself.
After all was said and done, we were all packed up and left out of camp in good spirits. We were in the shade of the morning and only the westerly ridge was lit up by the morning sun, but our cool trail was still in shade. Izzie stopped abruptly in the trail and a deer appeared quickly bounding away. He hopped like a rabbit as if to say “look how easily I am gracefully bounding away, you couldn’t catch me if you tried!” It was our first big game sighting of the trip!
The flora began to change as we pressed further north, we found fragrant sage, twisted currant, and our first lonely fir standing proud and plump! We finally reached the first climb up towards Bullfrog Lake and eventually Kearsage Pass. We both put our stride into low gear and steadily ascended the manzanita, snow brush, fir, and fern lined trail. Creeks leaped across the landscape and pines stood proud and well fed by the plentiful water here.
We finally popped out above the trees as the golden sun shone on the granite faces above. I started to think about how they always depicted Cleopatra, clad in flowing white dresses and weighed down with gold jewelery. I think of the mornings in the Sierra with white granite faces clad in beautiful golden sunlight. It’s nothing less than magical!
We finally reached Bullfrog Lake, a beautiful blue teal with healthy green algae at its rim. We climbed up and past Kearsarge lake and the cold seemed to intensify as we passed treeline and the blustering wind picked up. We plodded slowly up the chunky granite switchbacks until finally we took the pass!
We popped over the ridge and the wind seemed to subside, we could see hikers speckled across the winding trail below until it disappeared into the pines. We could see a few beautifully clear lakes and hoped to soon be at their shores. Hikers seemed to spring up like weeds, we would pause and chat, seeing day hikers, PCTers, fishermen, mountaineers, weekend loop backpackers, all sorts with their own story to tell. We finally found Maverick Lake and set up out tent for the night.
With Izzie’s foot being a nuisance, we decided to have her guard our gear while I hitched into town, grabbed our resupply, hitched back to the trailhead, and hiked back up to the lake in time for dinner (no easy task when you’re counting on the humanity of others, but I had faith!). With an almost empty pack I bombed down the trail! I would see a cascading waterfall, hear the buzz of a cicada, and finally a glimpse of the road leading to the Onion Valley Trailhead. I was stoked and pressed on briskly!
Indian paintbrush, snowbrush, and short scrub bushes lined the trail as I descended. I was soon at the parking lot, standing at the end with a big smile and a thumb out, hoping for the best in my stylish hawaiian shorts. It was only 10 minutes or so before I was picked up! A kind fellow who turned out to be an ex sheriff who loved the Sierras and jammed to some light Christian rock in the background of our hitch banter. We soon got to Mount Williamson Hotel and I quickly grabbed our resupply of 7 days of food for two and dumped it into my empty pack . . . . needless to say, I was laden down.
I got a ride from one of the shuttle guys who worked at the hotel and was (to my amazement) back to the trailhead at almost 3:00 pm! As soon as I stepped out of Doug’s shiny new Toyota Tacoma, I met Workout and Goldie, a couple trekking for 3.5 months on the PCT. We chatted on and soon figured out they were both biologists and I insisted they stop off for a quick break from the Kearsarge climb at Maverick Lake to meet Izzie and chat about fish and conservation. They led out like a couple of bats out of hell! That’s what happens when you have your trail legs on you!
Switcher after switcher I just mainly tried to hold onto the send train and hoped I wouldn’t fall behind! We were soon at the lake after some aggressive uphill, hanging out, having a snack, while the chat of America’s fish future was discussed. I sat back quiet while the 3 bantered on. Soon they decided to press on and we made dinner, completed our required stretches, and found ourselves back in the tent, hiding from the cold wind and winding down for the night with some warm curry and a cozy sleeping bag. Another great day on the trail!
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- JMT Miles 4 (36.5 – 40.5), Kearsarge Pass Miles 9.7
- GPX Track
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List