Hike: 2019 John Muir Trail

In August 2019 Jeff, Michael and I returned to the John Muir Trail for the third straight year to complete it. Our friend John, and Michael’s brother Steve joined us. We flew into Las Vegas and drove in a van to Grandview Campground in Inyo National Forest. Campsites were limited, but we squeezed into one and spread out looking for flat-ish areas to set up tents. In the morning we caught sunrise from the top of a ridge which gave us a great view of all the Sierras we’d be hiking through in the next week. We drove into Bishop to pick up our permits. The chances of winning the lottery for a Whitney Portal exit permit was low enough that we opted to exit our hike through Horseshoe Meadow, so all we needed was an Inyo National Forest permit for Bishop Pass Trail. We headed to South Lake to start our hike, but got there too late to secure a parking spot. Michael and Steve dropped us at the trailhead, parked the van roadside by Parcher’s Resort, and walked back to the trailhead.


DAY 1

The hike out of South Lake was a repeat for Jeff, Michael, and I from the previous year but in reverse. That made it no less enjoyable. We climbed past the numerous lakes in the area, over Bishop Pass, and down through Dusy Basin. We noticed there was definitely more snow on the ground than the previous year. It was fun to share in John and Steve’s first experience hiking in the Sierras. We ended the day with the switchbacks leaving Dusy Basin and facing the enormous mountains of Kings Canyon National Park. We stopped at the same campsite just below the 10,000′ mark that was our final campsite of the previous year.

SETUP

  • Flight from Portland, Maine to Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Rental from Las Vegas to Grandview Campground in Bishop, CA
  • Camped overnight at Grandview Campground
  • Drove to White Mountain Ranger Station in Bishop, CA for permits
  • Drove to South Lake in Bishop, CA

ROUTE

  • Parked along South Lake Road near Parcher’s Resort
  • Road walked to Bishop Pass Trailhead
  • Hiked Bishop Pass Trail over Bishop Pass to 10,000′
  • Camped just below 10,000′

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 03 August 2019
Distance: 9.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2300′


DAY 2

On the second day Steve left us and hiked back over Bishop Pass to the rental van. Steve was our support crew for the first half of the hike and was planning to do day hikes. He would meet us at our resupply, where he would join us for the second half of the hike. The rest of us continued down to LeConte Canyon and set foot on the JMT again. We followed the trail south, jumped in the Palisade Creek to cool off and reached the Golden Staircase by afternoon. The Golden Staircase was a crushing ascent (see elevation profile below) from the canyon up to the Palisade Lakes. At one point Jeff and I stopped to nap in the shade. It was that draining. As we approached Lower Palisade Lake we saw Michael and John in the distance, but when we got to the lake they were nowhere to be seen. We continued on, figuring they had as well, and stopped when we found a nice campsite above Upper Palisade Lake. Heat, elevation, and dehydration hit us and we took naps after setting up our tents. A few hours later when we had not heard from Michael and John, and no one passing from the opposite direction had seen them, I decided to trail run back to Lower Palisade Lake to look for them at the sprawling camping area. I eventually found them camped over a ridge above the lake. After coordinating with them about meeting back up in the morning I ran back to where Jeff and I were camped.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Bishop Pass Trail to intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Left on John Muir Trail to Upper Palisade Lake
  • Trail run to Lower Palisade Lake and back
  • Camped at Upper Palisade Lake

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 04 August 2019
Distance: 16.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3400′


DAY 3

We met up with John and Michael at our campsite in the morning and then climbed up and over Mather Pass. Mather Pass was over 12,000′ and had great views. Beyond it we dropped down to the drainage of the South Fork Kings River. We followed the river to where it gathered at the bottom of a canyon and had to make a fairly deep and strong river crossing. I had my sunglasses tucked into my pack’s sternum strap, but on the other side I realized I lost them in the river. After another climb we made it to Lake Marjorie, our stop for the night. Jeff and I arrived first and squatted in the primo spot at the side of the lake. As we waited for the second half of our crew, a thru hiker showed up and set up his hammock right in our spot. “Epic” was quite a character and would dog us for a few days. After settling in and having dinner, we hiked to the top of the ridge overlooking the lake and watched sun set.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail over Mather Pass to Lake Marjorie
  • Camped at Lake Marjorie

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 05 August 2019
Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2300′


DAY 4

The next day started with the climb from Lake Marjorie and over Pinchot Pass, another pass over 12,000′. On the other side we hiked through sparse trees surrounded by the chirping alarms of marmots. After a snack break overlooking Twin Lakes we dropped into the canyon Woods Creek cut through, and eventually crossed a long suspension bridge over the creek. We stopped for lunch and water by the creek under the bridge, and then made the long climb past Dollar Lake to the amazing Rae Lakes. It seems each backpacking trip there is a section where I was nearly broken by exhaustion. For whatever reason the climb up to Dollar Lake was that section for this trip. I fell behind the others and dragged myself to the campsite by Middle Rae Lake. The black flies were out in full force as we ate dinner, and our site was visited by both a deer and Epic.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail over Pinchot Pass to Rae Lakes
  • Camped at Rae Lakes

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 06 August 2019
Distance: 14.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3100′


DAY 5

Day five started with sunrise lighting up Painted Lady, an impressive pyramidal peak between Rae Lakes and Glen Pass. We hike past it and criss-crossed our way around boulders to the top of Glen Pass, yet another pass around 12,000′. Like a lot of the high passes, the route didn’t follow the JMT as much as made a safe approach of the snowfield near the top. Glen Pass was a little unique in that the trail traversed the ridge a bit before descending past the small lakes on the other side. After passing Charolette Lake we left the JMT to hike over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley for our resupply. Kearsarge Pass Trail skirted along the edge of a ridge with views of lakes below and then switchbacked up to the pass. On the pass we had cell signal for the first time, so I got to talk to Lindsay before the long hike down to the parking lot. Steve met us along the way, and then we drove to a motel in Independence. After settling in, we drove up to Bishop to get a meal, go to a gear shop, and have a beer at Mountain Rambler Brewery. I tore a hole in my shorts while filtering water hiking down from Kearsarge Pass, so I got some used Patagonia shorts, replaced my lost sunglasses, and got some Dirty Girl gaiters. The awesome folks at Mammoth Gear Exchange even gave us the thru-hiker discount.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail over Glen Pass to intersection with Kearsarge Pass Trail
  • Left on Kearsarge Pass Trail over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley parking
  • Motel room in Independence, CA

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 07 August 2019
Distance: 11.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500′


DAY 6

After our night off the trail, Michael and Steve dropped the rest of us off at the Onion Valley parking lot, and drove down to Horseshoe Meadow to drop the van off at our trail exit. We had arranged a shuttle to bring them back to Onion Valley, so Jeff, John, and I hung out for the morning waiting for them. After we were asked to leave the campsite we were squatting in, we raided the hiker’s box where John made an impromptu lunch of tortilla, peanut butter, sun-dried tomatoes, and some sort of jerky that looked like dog snacks. It was hilarious. When the shuttle arrived we hiked back up to Kearsarge Pass and cut past the lakes we had seen from above the day before, and rejoined the JMT. We stopped at a large and nice looking campsite we saw on the descent to Bubb’s Creek. We set up camp and the a couple of us climbed up a nearby ridge to watch sun set against the amazing East Vidette, a Paramount-like mountain that commanded the view over Bubb’s Creek. Our campsite was just below 10,000′ and had an awesome fire ring, so we had a nice fire before going to bed.

ROUTE

  • Car drop at Horseshoe Meadows parking on Horseshoe Meadows Road in Lone Pine, CA
  • Shuttle to Onion Valley parking on Onion Valley Road in Independence, CA
  • Hiked Kearsarge Pass Trail over Kearsarge Pass to intersection with Bullfrog Lake Trail
  • Left on Bullfrog Lake Trail to intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Left on John Muir Trail to campsite above Bubb’s Creek
  • Camped above Bubb’s Creek

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 08 August 2019
Distance: 7.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2600′


DAY 7

In the morning we dropped the rest of the way down to Bubb’s Creek and followed it around East Vidette. It was a frosty morning with patches of ice along the creek. The morning was taken up by the impressive climb up Forester Pass, which was the highest point on the JMT and Pacific Crest Trail at over 13,000′. Again, the JMT went off course because of all the snow. It climbed up the ridge early instead of cutting through the snow around the lake to the north of the pass, and it seemed to stay on the ridge longer in order to traverse the snowfield near the pass rather than climb up through it. There were people backed up at the snowfields, unsure of their footing. We had a lot of experience with hiking through snow in New England, so we made short work of it. Jeff, John and I got to the pass in the morning and hung out for a while. We had good visibility of the trail below us, but could not see Michael and Steve. Jeff and John pushed on as I put on layers and made myself comfortable. I wanted to make sure they made the climb over giant boulders and through snowfields without issue. I sat on Forester Pass for several hours snacking and just taking it all in. For the most part I had it to myself, but people passed through now and again and we chatted. Once Michael and Steve caught up, I continued on while they took a short break. The south side of Forester Pass was an incredible switchback adventure along cliffs, but luckily lacked the snow of the north side. I sauntered across the Tyndall Creek drainage and caught my first sight of Mount Whitney over Mount Tyndall’s shoulder. As I approached the Tyndall Creek crossing, I found John resting by its shore and he lead me to our campsite for the night. Michael and Steve showed up shortly thereafter, we were all tired but buzzing with the excitement of the day.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail over Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek
  • Camped at Tyndall Creek

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 09 August 2019
Distance: 12.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3600′


DAY 8

First thing in the morning we crossed Tyndall Creek and made our way up to Bighorn Plateau, which was another unique geography that the JMT cut through. We saw many birds and even a distant coyote as we crossed the plateau, forded Wallace Creek, and approached Crabtree Meadow. Jeff, John and I again got ahead and cut through Crabtree Meadow to stop at the ranger station and tried to get a weather report for the next morning, when we’d be climbing Mount Whitney. The ranger was out, but the weather report from my Garmin looked favorable. We passed by the wag bag station, we were not entering or exiting from Whitney Portal so we were exempt from packing out our own feces. We continued on to Guitar Lake and found a site to the north of the lake that was large enough to hold us. The rest of the day was filled with hanging out, going fishing, and looking longingly up at Mount Whitney.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to intersection with Upper Crabtree Meadow Trail
  • Right on Upper Crabtree Meadow Trail to ranger station and back
  • Right on John Muir Trail to Guitar Lake
  • Camped at Guitar Lake

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 10 August 2019
Distance: 11.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2400′


DAY 9

The next morning we got up at 1am in order to get to the summit of Mount Whitney for sunrise. The hike up in the dark was beautiful with a nearly full moon, stars overhead, and zigzagging headlamps below. Our pace was slow because of the elevation, I remember feeling lightheaded and being very exact with my foot placement. At one point we got off the trail after exiting a snowfield but we were close to the summit at that point, so there was no real danger. We got to the summit, and the official end of the JMT, well before sunrise and hunkered into a crevice out of the wind. We brought our sleeping bags to keep warm, and our stoves to make hot coffee and breakfast. When the sun rose we left the warmth of our sleeping bags for short periods of time to take photos and see the views. It was an amazing end to the official hike, but we had more miles to do to get to Horseshoe Meadow and our rental van. We headed back down the JMT to our campsite, and napped until around 11am. After resting we packed up our site and headed back past Crabtree Meadow and joined the Pacific Crest Trail south, making camp just on the other side of the Whitney Creek crossing. After setting up camp we explored the small gorge just down river of the crossing.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to summit of Mount Whitney and back
  • Hike John Muir Trail to intersection with Upper Crabtree Meadow Trail
  • Left on Upper Crabtree Meadow Trail to intersection with Lower Crabtree Meadow Trail
  • Right on Lower Crabtree Meadow Trail to intersection with Pacific Crest Trail
  • Left on Pacific Crest Trail to Whitney Creek campsite
  • Camped at Whitney Creek

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 11 August 2019
Distance: 13.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3200′


DAY 10

The day after Mount Whitney we started hiking south on the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is one of the Triple Crown of long national scenic trails, along with the Continental Divide Trail, and the Appalachian Trail. I have ambitions to eventually thru hike or section hike all three trails, and the PCT is the one I am most excited for. Jeff and I got a little early start in the morning and caught up with a thru hiker named Giraffe and chatted for a bit. Jeff kept pace with her as I fell behind a bit, but I found him waiting for me after the cool Rock Creek crossing (which involved crossing on the trunk of a fallen tree). Rock Creek was our last reliable water until our planned camping spot on Chicken Spring Lake, so it was a very dry midday hike. Jeff and I got to Chicken Spring Lake in early afternoon and got an okay spot among a few overnight hikers that came up from Horseshoe Meadow, a sign that our trip was nearly over. Jeff and I jumped in the lake, then I hiked over to Cottonwood Pass and was able to get cell signal and call Lindsay. I was settling in for a nap back at my tent when the rest of the crew showed up and wanted to push through to Horseshoe Meadow and end a day early. Jeff and I packed up our stuff and headed out, pausing at Cottonwood Pass to listen to a nearby band of coyotes yelping and howling. We caught up with the group at the bottom of the switchback below and we walked the last sandy miles to the van together.

With that our three year adventure of section hiking the John Muir Trail was over. 7 friends, 290 miles, almost 70,000′ elevation gain, numerous camp sites and vistas. Since we got off the trail a day early we got a motel room in Lone Pine, spent the next morning in Death Valley National Park, and ate and drank way too much in Las Vegas before flying back east. I hope to return one day to re-hike the whole JMT in one go, or to do the Sierra High Route.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Pacific Crest Trail to Chicken Spring Lake and intersection with Cottonwood Pass Trail
  • Left on Cottonwood Pass Trail to Horseshoe Meadow parking

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 12 August 2019
Distance: 19.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 3000′

TOTAL STATS

Date: 03 – 13 August 2019
Distance: 129.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 28,400′

Related Posts
2017 John Muir Trail
2018 John Muir Trail

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Hike: 2018 John Muir Trail

After our amazing 2017 John Muir Trail hike, Jeff, Michael and I couldn’t wait to get back for our second segment. Permits were easy this time because all we needed was an Inyo National Forest wilderness permit from Duck Pass Trail, which was a busy trail, but not compared to either end of the JMT: Yosemite National Park or Whitney Portal. This year my brother Brennan and his friend Igor joined us. I hadn’t done a backcountry hiking trip with them since 2014 and 2013 respectively, and now we got to experience one of the finest together. It also made spotting a vehicle at the end of our hike easier.

2018 was a bad year for forest fires in the Mammoth area, so there was some uncertainty as to whether the hike would be cancelled. Jeff, Michael, and I did not have a promising start to our trip when 395 through the mountains north of Mono Lake was stopped because a full cement truck rolled over. It had to be emptied and towed out of the ditch before traffic could resume. Things worked out for us in the end. Though we got to Mammoth Lakes late because of the cement truck, with some hunting we were able to get a campsite. A group had left because there was a high chance the campground would be evacuated in the middle of the night due to high winds and the nearby forest fire. There was no evacuation that night, and we weren’t much bothered by the smoke once we got over Duck Pass.


DAY 1

After Michael and I drove to South Lake in Bishop to pick up Brennan and Igor, who were spotting the exit vehicle, we got a midday start to our hike from the Duck Lake Pass trailhead in Coldwater Campground. It was exciting to head out on the JMT again, and to be able to share the experience with new people. The hike past the alpine lakes was crowded, but once we got over Duck Pass there were very few people. Since we started midday and all of us had flown from near sea level, we ended the short day by camping next to Pika Lake. After setting up camp, Michael and I went for a trail run along Pika and Duck lakes. After jumping in the lake to rinse off and eating dinner, we all enjoyed sunset over Duck Pass.

SET UP

  • Flight from Portland, ME to Reno, CA
  • Car rental from Reno, CA to Mammoth Lakes
  • Drive to South Lake in Bishop for car spot
  • Drive back to Mammoth Lakes

ROUTE

  • Parked car at Coldwater Campground Duck, Lake Pass trailhead
  • Hike Duck Pass Trail to intersection with Pika Lake Trail
  • Left on Pika Lake Trail to Pika Lake
  • Camp at Pika Lake
  • Trail Run along Pika Lake and Duck Lake and back

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 04 August 2018
Distance: 4.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2000′


DAY 2

On the morning of day two we hiked around Duck Lake and took the short climb up to Duck Pass again to get some cell reception before our final approach to the JMT. The hike around Duck Lake was an amazing start to the trip. The trail skirted the lake high up along its steep shoreline and was flanked on the opposite side by mountain peaks. After dropping below Duck Lake’s outlet we set foot on the John Muir Trail. From the exit of last year’s trip, Jeff, Michael, and I had missed a good chunk of JMT miles between Reds Meadow and Duck Lake. Those wouldn’t be the only miles of the JMT we’d miss, but we were section hiking it and I’m pretty sure we hiked many more total miles than the trails full length, so we weren’t too concerned. Also, it was another reason to come back and to thru hike the whole trail. On the shady shore of Purple Lake we stopped for some lunch and Jeff nearly caught the largest trout any of us saw the whole trip. We had another short day as we set up camp at Lake Virginia. Michael and I went for another trail run that evening. We went to the far side of Lake Virginia and then scree-climbed to a ridge to see what was on the other side (more mountains). Maybe not the best choice as the scree was steep and in places the large rocks were unstable from soft sand. But we were careful and got a memorable and unique view of the surrounding area. Back at camp we got to enjoy sundown again, this time projected against the ridge that we had just climbed.

ROUTE

  • Hike Pika Lake Trail to intersection with Duck Pass Trail
  • Turn right on Duck Pass Trail to Duck Pass then back down to intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Left on John Muir Trail to Lake Virginia
  • Trail run John Muir Trail to bottom of ridge above Lake Virginia
  • Bushwhack to ridge above Lake Virginia and back
  • Right on John Muir Trail back to Lake Virginia
  • Camp at Lake Virginia

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 05 August 2018
Distance: 9.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2600′


DAY 3

On day three we woke up to to freezing temperatures and covered in frost. The morning hike started with a steep climb down to Tully Hole. Jeff and Igor got ahead and stopped to fish in Fish Creek, I could see them like little dots below from the top of the switchbacks. After following Fish Creek through a canyon and crossing it on a dramatic bridge we began our climb to the Squaw Lakes. We were very exposed to the sun during the climb, but saw our first snow and experienced our first high pass when we reached Silver Pass at 10,900′. After Silver Pass and Silver Lake we dropped down below 9000′, crossed Mono Creek and stopped at the campsite just after the bridge. I was unsure if campfires were allow due to the wildfires, but we had a small one after the campers around us started their own.

ROUTE

  • Hike John Muir Trail over Silver Pass to Mono Creek crossing
  • Camp at Mono Creek campsite

PHOTOS

VIDEO

STATS

Date: 06 August 2018
Distance: 13.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2000′


DAY 4

Day four started with a big climb up and over Bear Ridge. It was a big climb, but the nearly level hike along the ridge in old growth forest after was a pleasure. We stopped for a snack before the descent to Bear Creek and were surprised to have some cell signal. It was a knee pounding drop to Bear Creek, so we stopped for lunch and to soak our feet. After lunch Brennan and Igor stayed back to nap in the shade while Michael, Jeff, and I made the long grueling climb up to Lou Beverly Lake. That afternoon was the hardest part of our 2018 JMT hike for me. It was a hot afternoon, the sun was in our faces, and there was little shade. Lou Beverly Lake turned out to be not as spectacular site as it sounded from some blog post I read while researching our hike, but was fairly cool nevertheless. The few sites along the lake were pretty wet and uneven, but we made camp on the flat rocks near its inlet. After setting up camp and resting we explored the lake and discovered that we could soak near the inlet but if we got further away the lake was only shin deep. In the photo below I was standing in the center of the lake. Once Brennan and Igor joined us we had dinner and hung out until dark.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to intersection with Sandpiper Lake Trail
  • Left on Sandpiper Lake Trail to Lou Beverly Lake
  • Camp at Lou Beverly Lake

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 07 August 2018
Distance: 11.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 3500′


DAY 5

On day five we started off toward the magnificent Marie Lake. I hiked with Brennan and Michael that morning and we stopped along the shore of the massive lake for a snack. After Marie Lake was the climb over Selden Pass, another high pass at 11,850′. At the pass we talked to a guy who was mulepacking. His family would slackpack each day while a mule company would set out ahead and make camp for them to return to at the end of the day. It sounded like the glamping equivalent to thruhiking, I’d never heard of such a thing. After Selden Pass were the spectacular Heart Lake and Sallie Keyes Lakes, followed by the seemingly endless switchbacks down to Muir Trail Ranch. We had paid the premium fee for sending resupply buckets to MTR, but the best part was going through a long line of categorized hiker buckets. They were filled with a wealth of trail foods that we were welcomed to engorge on and fill our packs with. After eating our fill and cramming our packs closed we crossed the South Fork San Joaquin River to the campsites next to the hot springs. After setting up camp we jumped from the rocks into Warm Lake. The lake was capped with warm water from the hot springs, but was frigid just below unless you found one of the springs. Afterward we sat in a hot spring that was little more than a hole in a muddy field, but was nevertheless wonderful. A quick rinse in the River led to an amazingly relaxed body, just in time for dinner and bed.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Sandpiper Lake Trail to intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Left on John Muir Trail over Selden Pass and to intersection with Sallie Keyes Cutoff Trail
  • Right on Sallie Keyes Cutoff Trail to intersection with Florence Lake Trail
  • Right to Muir Trail Ranch and back
  • Right to South Fork San Joaquin River crossing and hot springs
  • Camp at hot springs campsite

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 08 August 2018
Distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1400′


DAY 6

We awoke on the sixth day refreshed from the hot springs and made our way back across the San Joaquin, down the trail and across a bridge into Kings Canyon National Park. It would be hard to choose a favorite part of the JMT, but that day of following the river through canyons and climbing past waterfalls to the Evolution Valley would definitely in contention. Not only did we experience some of the icons of the JMT like Muir Rock, and the Evolution River crossing, but we ended our day at the single most picturesque campsite along McClure Meadow. After setting up camp, I made a coffee and went to visit the ranger at the nearby station. The young surfer dude ranger was patching his air mattress with duct tape and described the trail ahead with phrases of fondness like: “the trail is cruiser” and “every turn’s a postcard”. When I got back to camp Jeff had caught a bunch of trout which was cooked over the fire to supplement our dinners. It was idyllic.

ROUTE

  • Hiked across South Branch San Joaquin River to intersection with Florence Lake Trail
  • Right on Florence Lake Trail to intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Right on John Muir Trail to McClure Meadow
  • Camped at McClure Meadow

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 09 August 2018
Distance: 11.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2700′


DAY 7

On the seventh day we cruised up Evolution Valley and were graced by the beauty of Evolution Lake, whose rocky shores were surrounded by craggy peaks named after naturalists including Darwin. On the trail, it was another warm day with the sun in our faces as we hiked up to Wanda Lake. Though the day was short, I was feeling it as I set up my tent in the lee of a boulder and took a power nap. After eating a late lunch, Jeff, Michael, and I went for a hike to the summit of an unnamed peak to the east of Wanda Lake. From the summit we were surrounded by mountains as far as we could see.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to Wanda Lake
  • Camped at Wanda Lake
  • Bushwhacked nearby peak of 12262′

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 10 August 2018
Distance: 9.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3100′


DAY 8

Our last day on the JMT started by climbing up to the highest point of the trail for this section, Muir Pass at just under 12,000′. We scoped out Muir Hut and got a group photo. The rest of the day was slow climb down from the pass along the Kings River and into Le Conte Canyon. We went from snow and talus past alpine lake to lush forests. We stopped for lunch next to the infamous Rock Monster and got to the end of the JMT for us this year, at the intersection with Bishop Pass Trail. While snacking near the ranger station a woman ran up looking for the ranger, who was out on patrol. Her mother has badly sprained her ankled and was resting it in Muir hut. Tina had run all the way down to see the ranger to get help. Luckily Igor had a satellite phone and they were able to reach rescue. We supplied Tina with a bunch of our snacks for her hike back up to her mother. A few weeks later Tina sent me an amazing video of them being flown by helicopter off the JMT from Muir Pass, a truly unique perspective of the mountains. We finished our day by hiking up Bishop Pass Trail to just below the 10,000′ mark at a campsite in the woods next to a brook. We had a campfire and settled in for our final evening of our trip.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail over Muir Pass to intersection with Bishop Pass Trail
  • Left on Bishop Pass Trail to 10,000′
  • Camped at campsite just below 10,000′

PHOTOS

VIDEO

STATS

Date: 11 August 2018
Distance: 10.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1600′


DAY 9

Our final day began with a switchback out of Le Conte Canyon with amazing views of the mountains in Kings Canyon National Park. We hiked upwards all morning through the lush Dusy Basin and into the desert-like conditions south of Bishop Pass. We again found ourselves surrounded by amazing mountains like Isosceles Peak, Lightning Bolt Peak, and the third highest peak in the Sierras: the 14er North Palisade. The plan had been to hiker over Bishop Pass and find a campsite among the lakes on the other side for our final night. But once we got momentum (and past the pile of deer corpses killed in an earlier avalanche) we headed all the way out to South Lake parking lot and our vehicle. It was a good thing because a thunderstorm rolling in that evening. Instead of camping another night, we got a condo in Lake Tahoe. It was too small for the five of us, but we had been sleeping on the ground for the last nine night, and it had a hot tub. The next morning we enjoyed a drive around Lake Tahoe, visited some outdoor gear suppliers, saw the start of the Wester States 100, and headed back to Reno for our flights back to the east coast.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Bishop Pass Trail over Bishop Pass to South Lake parking lot

PHOTOS

VIDEO

STATS

Date: 12 August 2018
Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3000′

TOTAL STATS

Date: 04 – 12 August 2018
Distance: 91.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 20,900′

Related Posts:
2017 John Muir Trail
2019 John Muir Trail

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Hike: Great Range

SUMMARY

Each fall a couple of friends and I try to take a long weekend to do some backcountry hiking and camping. In 2016 we planned a multi-day hike in the Great Range in the Adirondacks in New York. For me, this was the start of a new peak list. Having recently finished the New England 4000 Footers, I was looking forward to the Adirondacks 46 High Peaks. So, we took a Thursday and Friday off and headed to New York.

For this hike we parked at Garden, hiked up to The Brothers, Big Slide Mountain and Yard Mountain, hiked down to Johns Brooks Lodge and then halfway up to the Wolfjaws to camp at Wolf Jaw campsite. On Friday we hiked up to the Great Range and traversed Lower Wolfjaw, Upper Wolfjaw, Armstrong Mountain, The Gothics, Saddleback Mountain, and Basin Mountain and then hiked down to Slant Rock campsite. On Saturday we hiked up to Little Haystack and Mount Haystack before heading back to Garden Parking, following the valley out. The hike was over 24 miles and included 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

Hike Great Range

Map of hike (interactive map)

THURSDAY

It was a five hour drive from where we lived to Keene Valley, New York, so we started in the dark on Thursday morning. We needed to rent a bear canisters so we stopped at The Mountaineer, an outdoors equipment shop, for the canister and some other supplies. I spilled my coffee down the front of my shirt on the drive, so I picked up a new shirt so I wouldn’t smell like food in bear country.

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Hike: North Brother

SUMMARY

We began and finished from the Marston Trail parking area off Park Tote Road in Baxter State Park, about 13 miles north of the park’s south entrance. We hiked Marston Trail to the junction with Mount Coe Trail. We headed north on Marston Trail around Teardrop Pond to the junction with North Brother Trail. We followed North Brother Trail to the summit of North Brother and returned the way we came.

The hike totaled 9 miles with 3000 feet of elevation gain and took us just under 5 and a half hours to complete.

Trail map

Map of hike (interactive map)

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Hike: Doubletop Mountain

SUMMARY

We started this hike from our campsite at Nesowadnehunk Field Campground, which is about 16 miles north of the Baxter State Park south entrance. We took Doubletop Trail to the summit of the north peak and then returned to our campsite.

This hike was around 6.25 miles with 2400′ of elevation gain. It took us just about 5 hours to hike to the northern summit of Doubletop Mountain and back.

Trail map

Map of hike (interactive map)

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Hike: Crawford/Resolution/Stairs

SUMMARY

We accessed Davis Path from the Davis Path parking lot off Route 302 just south of Crawford Notch in Bartlett, New Hampshire. We took Davis Path to the intersection with the Mount Crawford spur path, which we took to Mount Crawford. We backtracked to Davis Path and continued along it until the intersection with Mount Parker Trail, which we took to Mount Resolution. We again backtracked to Davis Path and continued north to the intersection with Giant Stairs spur path, which we took to the vista overlooking Giant Stairs. We then backtracked to Davis Path and began the return trip to our car. At the intersection with Mount Parker Trail we took an old side trail to AMC Resolution Shelter (demolished) and returned to Davis Path. Midway between Mount Resolution and Mount Crawford we bushwhacked over an unnamed peak marked as 3088′ to a remote cliff. We finally bushwhacked back to Davis Path and returned the remaining distance to our car.

This hike and its many side trips and bushwhacks turned out to be nearly 12 miles long and accumulated over 3500 feet of elevation. Including several breaks it took us just under 9 hours to complete.

Trail map

Map of hike (interactive map)

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Bushwhack: Vose Spur & Mount Carrigain

SUMMARY

We started on the Signal Ridge Trail off Sawyer River Road . At the junction with Carrigain Notch Trail we took it. There was no official path to Vose Spur, but there was a pretty good herd path to the summit from Carrigain Notch Trail. Soon after passing Bushwhack Boulder we took the herd path on the left, stepping over a large birch log, and followed it to the summit. We then continued our bushwhack down the western side to the talus strewn col between Vose Spur and East Carrigain. The bushwhack continued up East Carrigain and then followed the ridge to the fire tower atop Mount Carrigain. We looped back to our car by taking Signal Ridge Trail back to the trailhead.

The hike was about 10 miles with 3600′ elevation gain and took us under eight hours to complete.

Trail map

Map of hike (interactive map)

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Hike: Tumbledown Mountain

TRIP REPORT

At work I was part of a hiking group and although I ‘d planned several hikes I hadn’t actually attended one. So in June I put together a hike of Tumbledown Mountain and lead the hike. We met at work shortly before 7:00 am and took a couple of cars up to Weld, Maine. There were five of us from work as well as a couple of our kids, including both of mine.

We arrived at the parking lot for Loop Trail on Byron Road at 9:30 am. There were plenty of cars at both lots, but neither were full yet. We dropped everyone off and returned to the parking lot at Brook Trail in order to plant a vehicle at the end of our hike. Once it was secured we returned to the others waiting at the Loop Trail.

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Hike: Franconia Loop 2016

TRIP REPORT

In late April I took my older son on one of the classic hikes in New Hampshire, a traverse of the Franconia Ridge Trail. The weekend prior I went camping with both my boys and we hiked Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff. From that vantage point we had a great view of Lafayette. It looked like most of the snow and ice had melted from the ridge, so I had asked my son if he’d like to hike it the next weekend. He said he did.

We got up early (for a teenager) and drove to Franconia Notch State Park, getting there at about 8:30 am. Getting out of the car was a practice of tempering ourselves against the frigid temperature and gusts of wind from the northwest. With it being a clear day, the parking lot at the Falling Waters Trail head was fairly packed with like-minded hikers. We set off up the trail to get our blood pumping and fend off the cold penetrating our layers.

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Hike: Mount Cube

TRIP REPORT

After a quick hike up Mount Major for a sunrise that never really showed its face, I headed to Orford, New Hampshire to meet a couple friends and hike Mount Cube. I thought that Mount Cube would have a square shape to it, but in fact its name is a local corruption of Mount Cuba. As legend has it, the mountain was named after a dog that fought a bear on its summit.

I first caught sight of the mountain as I drove around Lower Baker Pond on Route 25A, its rocky north summit stood high above the water. I passed by our starting point, the roadside parking for the Appalachian Trail and hooked around the northern side of the mountain. I was meeting my friends on the dirt Baker Road on the west side of the mountain at the Cross Rivendell Trail head, where we would be completing our hike.

They arrived soon after I go there and we headed back to the Appalachian Trail in my friend’s truck. We got to the start of our hike at 9:15 am. There were two other cars parked off the road and the weather was in the 40s and overcast. We started up the trail following a couple with a dog, and we were followed by a guy and his dog. We soon lost the trail and we all convened in a clearing slightly befuddled. In short time we discovered that we were on a logging road, not the Appalachain Trail. We headed back out to the road and found the trail on the western end of the parking area. It was signed and pretty obvious once we looked for it.

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