Hike: Carrigain Loop

Hike: Carrigain Loop

My friend John completed his New Hampshire 4000 Footer list with Mount Carrigain. Our friend Michael and I joined him, his two daughters and his dog for the hike. John, Michael and I started hiking together seven years ago with their first 4000 Footer, Wildcat D. John and Michael joined me for the completion of my 4000 Footer list in 2017, and John and I joined Michael for his in 2018, so it was only fitting that we were there for John as well.

Map of hike

ROUTE

  • Parked at Signal Ridge Trail parking on Sawyer River Road
  • Hiked Signal Ridge Trail to the summit of Mount Carrigain
  • Continued down Desolation Trail to Carrigain Notch Trail
  • Turned right on Carrigain Notch Trail looping back to Signal Ridge Trail
  • Stayed straight on Carrigain Notch Trail at intersection with Nancy Pond Trail
  • Turned left on Signal Ridge Trail and followed back to parking

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 28 August 2020
Distance: 13.5 miles
Moving Time: 05:06
Pace: 22:44/mile
Elevation Gain: 3737′

Tracing White Mountains Trails:
Desolation Trail

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Hike: AT Kinsman Range

Despite it being a rainy day, Jeff, John, and I headed to the Kinsman Rage to trace some White Mountain trails and to knock off a section of the AT. We dropped a car off at The Basin and then parked at the southern end of the range. Though we started the hike in the rain, it started to clear by the time we got to Lonesome Lake. The highlight of the hike was a moose that we encountered at the start of Fishin’ Jimmy trail. We waited as it completely ignored us, munching some vegetation. There was a tense moment where it looked like John’s dog, Pepper, was going to chase the moose, but did not.

ROUTE

  • Car spot at The Basin parking lot off I-93 in Lincoln, NH
  • Parked at Beaver Brook Trailhead off Lost River Road in North Woodstock, NH
  • Hiked Kinsman Ridge Trail over Mountain Wolf, South Kinsman and North Kinsman to intersection with Fishin’ Jimmy Trail
  • Right on Fishin’ Jimmy Trail past Lonesome Lake Hut to intersection with Cascade Brook Trail
  • Right on Cascade Brook Trail under I-93 to Franconia Notch Recreation Path
  • Left on Franconia Notch Recreation Path to parking lot

PHOTOS

Some photos captured by John Ellingsworth

STATS

Date: 11 July 2020
Distance: 16.4 miles
Moving Time: 07:41:59
Pace: 28:10/mile
Elevation Gain: 5012′

Tracing White Mountains Trails:
Kinsman Ridge Trail
Cascade Brook Trail

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Hike: Tumbledown 2020

At the beginning of the Quarantine Summer of 2020, Lindsay and I camped for the weekend at Mount Blue state park and hiked the classic Tumbledown Mountain. The plan was to make a loop of all of the Tumbledown peaks and Little Jackson, starting and ending at Brook Trail. Our plans were foiled when a thunderstorm rolled in as we got to the most remote and true peak of Tumbledown, the north peak. We bailed and bushwhacked down to Tumbledown Pond, skirted around it and went back down Brook Trail. Of course, the sun was back out as we returned to Tumbledown Pond.

ROUTE

  • Parked at Brook Trail parking on Weld To Byron Road in Weld, ME
  • Hiked Brook Trail to intersection with Loop Trail at Tumbledown Pond
  • Left on Loop Trail to Tumbledown East Peak and Tumbledown Southwest Peak and back to intersection with Tumbledown North Peak bushwhack
  • Left on Tumbledown North Peak bushwhack to Tumbledown North Peak and col between Tumbledown Mountain and Little Jackson Mountain
  • Right on bushwhack around Tumbledown Pond back to intersection with Brook Trail
  • Left on Brook Trail back to parking

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 06 June 2020
Distance: 6.8 miles
Moving Time: 03:44:38
Pace: 32:53/mile
Elevation Gain: 2065′

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Winter Hike: Peaked

Lindsay and I went on our first winter hike together at Peaked Mountain. This mountain is normally great reward for little effort, but it was a warm and rainy day down low and overcast and snowing up above, so we missed the views.

ROUTE

  • Parked at Green Hills Preserve / Pudding Pond parking on Thompson Road in North Conway, NH
  • Hiked up Pudding Pond Access Road to intersection with Side Hill
  • Left on Side Hill to intersection with Black Cap Connector
  • Left on Black Cap Connector to intersection with Peaked Mountain Trail
  • Right on Peaked Mountain Trail to summit and back to intersection with Peaked Mountain – Middle Mountain Connector
  • Left on Peaked Mountain – Middle Mountain Connector to intersection with Middle Mountain Trail
  • Right on Middle Mountain Trail to intersection with Side Hill
  • Left on Side Hill to intersection with Pudding Pond Access Road
  • Right on Pudding Pond Access Road back to car

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 04 January 2020
Distance: 3.7 miles
Moving Time: 01:42:56
Pace: 27:50/mile
Elevation Gain: 1167′

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Hike: Cohos Trail

Two weeks after completing our three year section hike of the John Muir Trail, Jeff headed to northern New Hampshire to thruhike the Cohos Trail, a relatively unheard of long trail from the Canadian border to the White Mountains National Forest. Initially I was going to thruhike it with him, but was feeling exhausted from the JMT, and was battling some chronic ankle and calf pain. Instead, I joined him for the middle of his hike, and to help with car spotting.


DAY 1

On the first day of my hike, I met Jeff at a trailhead on Nash Stream Road. We left my car there and drove up to where he left off the Cohos Trail, at Young’s Store. This day mostly consisted of hiking ATV trails, overgrown snowmobile trails, and backroads. There were some highlights, like lunch on the shore of Lake Francis, and curious cows greeting us along fields in the middle of nowhere. But it was mostly a grind. At th end of the day we lucked out and found an empty campsite at Coleman State Park.

ROUTE

  • Spotted car at Cohos Trail parking, 0.5 miles beyond Trio Ponds Road on Nash Stream Road in Groveton, NH
  • Parked at Young’s Store in Pittsburg, NH
  • Hiked south on ATV trails to McKeages Camp Trail
  • Right on McKeages Camp Trail to Cedar Stream Road
  • Right on Cedar Stream Road to Deadwater Loop Road
  • Left on Deadwater Loop Road to ATC trails
  • Right on ATV trails to Haynes Road
  • Left on Haynes Road to Creampoke Road/McAllister Road
  • Left on Creampoke Road/McAllister Road to Bear Rock Road
  • Left on Bear Rock Road to Heath Road
  • Left on Heath Road to Diamond Pond Road
  • Left on Diamond Pond Road to Coleman State Park

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 25 August 2019
Distance: 24.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 1952′


DAY 2

The second day of my Cohos Trail hike started at Coleman State Park and was much better than the previous day’s slog. We were on singletrack for most of the day, had some views, and ate lunch on the roof of a leanto. The afternoon was highlighted by Dixville Notch and the amazing views from Table Rock. We ended the day at Baldhead Shelter, but we were low on water and could not find a source near the shelter.

ROUTE

  • Hiked south on Cohos Trail to Sanguinary Mountain
  • Right on Sanguinary Ridge Trail to Dixville Notch
  • Straight on Huntington Cascade Trail to Three Brothers Trail
  • Left on Three Brothers Trail to Table Rock
  • Left on Cohos Trail to Baldhead Shelter

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 26 August 2019
Distance: 18.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3876′


DAY 3

On the third day of my segment of the Cohos Trail we woke up in Baldhead Shelter and hiked until we found some water a short bushwhack off the trail. We hiked out to Nash Stream Road where my exhaustion and sore ankle got the best of me, and I hiked the road back to my car while Jeff continued along the Cohos Trail. That would be the end of my adventure. We spotted his car at the end of the Cohos Trail, got some dinner, and camped in the relative luxury of Dry River Campground. Jeff would finish his thruhike of the Cohos Trail over the next couple of days.

ROUTE

  • Hikes south on Cohos Trail to Nash Stream Road
  • Left on Nash Stream Road to parked car

STATS

Date: 27 August 2019
Distance: 11.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1089′

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

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: 2017 John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail is one of those bucket list hikes that I always dreamed about but didn’t think I’d get the opportunity to do. The trail is over 200 miles long and goes from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. It goes past Half Dome in Yosemite, by the most beautiful alpine lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, through the massive canyons carved out by the San Joaquin River in Kings Canyon National Park, and meanders through the land of 14,000′ giants in Sequoia National Park. Some say it’s the most beautiful and scenic land in the country, it would be hard to argue otherwise.

My journey began when Jeff entered the lottery for a permit to hike the John Muir Trail and climb Half Dome. Despite only a 2% chance of being awarded a permit (at that time), we got permits for our requested days within a two days of the lottery opening. Since Jeff, Michael, and I couldn’t take the time off work to hike the entire trail at a single go, we decided to break it up into three trips. The hardest permits to acquire were entering the trail from Yosemite and exiting the trail from Mount Whitney. We got the first one, we’d figure out the rest as we got there. For our first year on the JMT we decided to hike from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley to Reds Meadow, and exit via Mammoth Lakes area.

DAY 1

After almost an entire day flying across the country, spotting a rental car in Mammoth, public transporting to Yosemite, and picking up our permits, we awoke at the hiker’s campground in Yosemite Valley and headed to Happy Isles trailhead. I cannot describe the excitement and anticipation of starting the hike. It was one of the few instances in my life where the reality of doing the thing exceeded the daydreaming and the planning of the thing. It was a perfect morning, we were surrounded beautiful scenery, and we were giddy for the hiking and camping ahead of us. It was the perfect introduction to the trail, with sprawling vistas and massive waterfalls, and all the while Half Dome loomed overhead. We set up camp at Little Yosemite Valley (where our permits dictated we needed to camp the first night) and hiked to the approach of Half Dome. We planned to hike it on the first day since we could do it with lighter packs after setting up camp. But, as we neared The Cables a thunderstorm rolled in and we bailed. Back at Little Yosemite Valley we met our camping neighbors, Keith and his sister-in-law, and had a campfire to cap off the day.

SET UP

  • Drive from Portland, ME to Boston, MA
  • Airplane from Boston, MA to San Francisco, CA
  • Car rental from San Francisco to Horseshoe Lake parking lot in Mammoth Lakes
  • Mammoth Lakes Basin Trolley from Horseshoe Lake to Mammoth Village
  • YARTS bus from Mammoth to Tuolumne Meadows
  • Permit pickup in Tuolumne Meadows
  • Tuolumne Meadows Shuttle from Tuolumne Meadows to Yosemite Valley
  • Camp at hiker’s campground in Yosemite Valley

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail from Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley
  • Left on John Muir Trail from Little Yosemite Valley to intersection with Half Dome Trail
  • Left on Half Dome Trail to above tree line and back
  • Right on John Muir Trail to Little Yosemite Valley
  • Camped at Little Yosemite Valley

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 16 August 2017
Distance: 10.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 4700′


DAY 2

Our second day on the JMT started by re-hiking the approach to Half Dome. At the intersection of the John Muir Trail and Half Dome Trail we ditched a lot of our gear (even though it is not suggested), except for our food so that animals wouldn’t get into it. The Cables were nerve-wracking, I’m glad I didn’t have the full weight of my pack on my back. Since we started at Little Yosemite Valley, we got to Half Dome before the crowds. We grabbed some gloves from a pile (this was pre-covid so it was okay to share, though I guess you needed to be wary of rattlesnakes) and started up the steep pitch. The ascent was not for the meek, the granite was slick on a dry day and all you have to assist you are two cables held up by an occasional metal pole, and wood treads every several feet (see image below get the idea). As we started up what seemed like a vertical pitch, Jeff headed back down in a moment of uncertainty. Michael and I continued up, and I for one took my first full breath as we got to the top. The views were amazing, despite the smoke from forest fires obscuring the valley, but I think I was too worried about the descent to truly appreciate it. After taking some photos and avoiding the shit-ravens (I guess the climb made people shit themselves and the ravens clearly liked to snack on it) we headed back to The Cables. But as we got there Jeff was just finishing the climb. In the end he overcame his fear and we got to experience the shitty splendor of Half Dome together.

After descending Half Dome we continued up the John Muir trail, heading northeast toward Tuolumne Meadows. After filtering some water near the Clouds Rest Trail intersection (I still loved my Sawyer Squeeze at this time), we entered a section of trail that weaved through an remnants of a forest fire. It was a shocking contrast to the beauty we witnessed up to that point. All of the trees were charred, and there was no shade. After getting through that arid section we capped off the day with a slog up Sunrise Pass. We found a hardened area off the trail on which to camp with views of the ragged Cathedral Range to the north.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to intersection with Half Dome Trail
  • Left on Half Dome Trail to summit of Half Dome and back
  • Left on John Muir Trail to Sunrise Pass
  • Camped off trail below Sunrise Pass

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 17 August 2017
Distance: 11.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 5600′


DAY 3

Our third day was a mostly gradual descent from Sunrise Pass to Tuolumne Meadows. We hiked along iconic fields surrounded by wild flowers and the shark-teeth-like peaks of Columbia Finger, Tresidder Peak, and the impressive Cathedral Peak. We stopped by Cathedral Lake for lunch on the rocks while Jeff scoped out the fish situation. The descent from Cathedral Peak to Tuolumne Meadows was cruizer for us, but we passed family after miserable family climbing up in the heat. In several cases the children were crying and the parents were fuming with frustration. Having been on a month-long whirlwind tour of the national parks only a month earlier, I could relate. After arriving at the hiker’s campground in Tuolumne Meadows, we stopped at the post office to grab our resupply and get some lunch. Sadly, we were already halfway through our adventure. We bumped into Keith again, and met his new trail partner Cat. Keith had way over estimated how much food he needed in his resupply, so we feasted on his extra jerky and Fritos. We invited them to camp with us and spent the evening becoming fast friends and sharing stories over a campfire.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to Cathedral Lake
  • Continued on John Muir Trail to Tuolumne Meadows
  • Camped at Tuolumne Meadows hiker’s campground

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 18 August 2017
Distance: 9.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1100′


DAY 4

After grabbing the most amazing breakfast sandwiches in Tuolumne Meadows, we left Keith and Cat and got an early start on the trail, hoping that we would meet up again that evening. The day was one of the more mellow ones as we followed Lyell Canyon toward Donahue Pass. We stopped occasionally to peer at fish in the river, and Jeff got to fly fish a little as we took breaks (see video below). The day drew to an end as we started the climb up to Donahue Pass. We stopped at Green Tarn, a small mountain lake feed from glacier runoff and made camp. I jumped in the tarn to wash off several days’ worth of grit and we caught a beautiful sunset. We left a sign on the trail that we were camping nearby (a mosaic of Maine made from small rocks, and a twig arrow) but we did not see Keith and Cat that evening. Michael and I cowboy camped outside our tents and stared at the stars overhead. But I moved into my tent as the temperature dropped.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to intersection with Pacific Crest Trail
  • Right on Pacific Crest Trail to Green Tarn
  • Camped at Green Tarn

PHOTOS

VIDEO

STATS

Date: 19 August 2017
Distance: 11.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2100′


DAY 5

We started our fifth day on the JMT by wading across the freezing runoff from Green Tarn and climbing up and over Donahue Pass. The pass was be our highest elevation for this section of the trip at 11,066′ and was the border between Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I was looking forward to the Ansel Adams Wilderness, but was still struck by its beauty. The day was filled with wildflowers, hopping over trickling brooks and surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks. Midday was marked by pack llamas on Island Pass and heading toward some of the most amazing alpine lakes. Thousand Island Lake and Garnet Lake were majestic bodies of water towered over by Banner Peak and Mount Ritter. Banner Peak stood front and center above the lakes, and over its shoulder, Mount Ritter was the highest mountain we would see this trip at over 13,000′. The climb down from Island Pass was very exposed to the sun and I was feeling a bit dehydrated. We stopped at Thousand Island Lake for lunch and to put our feet in the water. We had planned to camp along one of the lakes, but they were relatively crowded and a ranger who stopped us to check our permits said there was a nuisance bear bother campers the last few nights. So we continued through a climb after Garnet Lake and found a hardened spot with a view and a fire ring to camp at. It wasn’t the nicest campsite, but at least we were back to low enough elevation to have a campfire.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Pacific Crest Trail over Donahue Pass to Thousand Island Lake and intersection with John Muir Trail
  • Right on John Muir Trail to campsite above Shadow Lake

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 20 August 2017
Distance: 12.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500′


DAY 6

Day six marked the day we’d be exiting the John Muir Trail, but on a lighter note there would also be a nearly total solar eclipse. We continued along the JMT past some more alpine lakes. While we were at the high point between Rosalie and Gladys Lake we came across some people observing the total eclipse. It was a partially cloudy morning, but they let us borrow a piece of welder’s glass they were carrying to check out the eclipse. While not as impressive as the last week’s worth of scenery, it was a moment that marked that place in time for me. It was a pretty mellow hike beyond that point, and soon after lunch we got to Devils Postpile National Monument, where we exited the JMT. The rocks in Devils Postpile were known for their hexagonal pillar shape, but it was otherwise unimpressive. We continued on to Reds Meadow where we grabbed a campsite (the cheaper hiker’s campsite was too crowded for our wilderness-induced minds) and headed to Reds Meadow Resort to get some burgers and milkshakes. Later that afternoon Keith and Cat found us and took the campsite next to us. Another hiker we met in Lyell Canyon a few days earlier added his tent to our site. We spent the evening catching up and talking about the JMT. I know Jeff, Michael and I were sad to have to exit the trail the next morning, and not continue south with our new trail family.

ROUTE

  • Hiked John Muir Trail to intersection with Devils Postpile Trail
  • Left on Devils Postpile Trail to Reds Meadow
  • Camped at Reds Meadow Campground

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 21 August 2017
Distance: 10.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 1500′


DAY 7

On our last day of our 2017 John Muir Trail adventure we headed out of the wilderness by climbing through Mammoth Pass to our car parked at Horsehoe Lake. The morning did start with some excitement when we spotted a black bear stalking us through the less traveled trails. At the trailhead I left my trusty hiking stick which had travelled with me from Lyell Canyon, and on which I had carved #mainewanderlust. The rest of the day was the drive back to San Francisco to catch our flight. We grabbed some dinner at Whole Foods and enjoy it by the Pacific Ocean during sunset, so it wasn’t a complete bummer to return to reality.

ROUTE

  • Hiked Old John Muir Trail to intersection with Mammoth Pass Trail
  • Left on Mammoth Pass Trail to Horseshoe Lake parking

PHOTOS

STATS

Date: 22 August 2017
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1900′

TOTAL STATS

Date: 16 – 22 August 2017
Distance: 70.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 19,400′

Related Posts:
2018 John Muir Trail
2019 John Muir Trail

Contact Me

maine.wanderlust@gmail.com

Trail Run: Shell Pond & Blueberry Mountain

SUMMARY

I have been trail running for a year or so but on mostly flat trails near my house. After a few excursions to small mountains in my area, I decided I wanted to try out a long run with more serious climb. I picked out an area on my White Mountain National Forest maps that looked good (I had heard Blueberry Mountain was nice) and headed out.

After having some trouble finding the trail head (pro-tip: the road is called Stone House Road, Google Maps says Shell Pond Road) I parked in the lot by the Stone House gate and started my run.

Trail map

Map of run (interactive map)

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