June 3, 2016
Bushcamp (mile 801.5) to bushcamp (mile 813.3)
We have both been looking forward to hiking the JMT the opposite direction.
In the current conditions, it feels like an entirely different trail. We know when climbs are going to be tough but even the mellower ones seem difficult.
Maybe it is the snow, the fact that going down something never seems as hard as going up, or maybe it is just fatigue from 9 continuous days of hiking.
The day started great. We anticipated 3 streams before the pass but managed to keep dry feet through all of them.
Then pass for today was Pinchot Pass. The approach to it was gradual. The snow was hard and easy to walk on. We started early and enjoyed walking into the sunlight.
As we got closer to the pass a number of other hikers caught up with us. We climbed as a pack – 7 in all. The top of the pass was another 10 ft vertical climb. There were steps but we put on our crampons just to be safe.
The top was windy so we didn’t stay long. The descent was gradual and we were very thankful for hard snow. We both glissaded on our butts and feet. We took in the views of Lake Marjorie and admired the gushing rivers we didn’t have to cross.
Around 11am we found a slab of granite to dry out the rain fly and tyvek while eating lunch.
We continued down towards the South Fork of the Kings River. We veered off the trail following footsteps in the snow between trees and boulders. It was like an obstacle course and we enjoyed sliding down little hills.
We got to the South Fork of the Kings River around the same time as a German couple. Willywa (a guy we first met when hiking the Big Bear Reroute – he was walking the opposite way so we chatted but never hiked together) had just crossed. He pointed to the easiest place to cross and we all followed suit.
It significantly boosted Laurie’s confidence to have other hikers around, especially older ones whom she believes are more wise and experienced.
We both crossed in our hiking boots without socks or insoles. This was the biggest and strongest river crossing yet, but we got through it.
At the other bank we dumped water out of our shoes, attempted to wring out our socks and carried on.
From here the trail started uphill towards Mather Pass. We crossed 2 other streams (requiring us to take off socks and insoles each time) before getting to camp.
The last crossing exhausted Laurie. It wasn’t the crossing itself but the effort it took to disrobe and put everything back on. Walking with wet feet wasn’t comfortable but we had no other choice.
One of our options for camping was right after the crossing a stream. It was 5 pm and we decided to call it a day. Laurie was excited about the possibility of drying her boots and socks in the last few hours of sunlight.
We put up the tent and sat on a granite slab. Laurie expressed her anxiety about making it to VVR. The snow felt doable but the amount of water and the intensity of the river crossings terrified her.
We were exhausted after 11 mile days and needed to do at least 15 to get to VVR before our food ran out.
Both of us were outside of our comfort zones.
Laurie’s fears were increased by the fact that nobody else was camped nearby. She likes to be part of a pack.
We talked about talking with other hikers tomorrow (we anticipate and hope to see the same crew going up Mather Pass) about what their plans are and see if we can form a group.
If we don’t feel comfortable we can go out Bishop Pass. It is nice to have a backup plan.
As for tonight, Andy held Laurie as she cried, reassuring her that we can always turn around or exit if we aren’t comfortable continuing on.
We will go one step at a time, taking things slowly. We have to remind ourselves that we aren’t in a race. We are here to have fun..safely.
Tonight we are grateful for fellow hikers and our commitment to each other.