Merrily on our way we go

This is long overdue (and also very long), but I wanted to post about the summer in chronological order...the wedding photos held me up.

The JMT is about 210 miles. Adding in the descent from Mt. Whitney to Whitney Portal, we ended up hiking about 220 miles in 16 days or 17 calendar days, the first and last both being half-days. That's averaging 13.75 miles a day, but there were definitely days we did closer to 9-10 miles and days we did about 19-20 miles.

One of the funniest things about the trek was that everyone kept implying that N had to finagle me into doing the hike. To this, he would respond, "It was her idea," which is completely true. I didn't always think I was wise for having the idea, though. The whole point was to do something fun that would take up a good chunk of time between the wedding and when we were to drive cross-country so we wouldn't need to sublet a place for a month. It was painful on occasion--like the day I got 150 mosquito bites--but in the end I was really proud of having done it and we got a lot of nice memories and some beautiful photos out of it.

While hiking we met some very strange people, which was not wholly unexpected. Who else is going to be in the middle of the wilderness? There were certainly many people who just longed to talk to other humans (especially the PCT folks) and would stop to chat for extended periods of time if you let them. A few folks would use "we" for "I"--we didn't pass anyone else who could have been a companion. There was a man hiking in a kilt, another man with a silver umbrella who thought it was the greatest invention of all time ("It's dual purpose! It keeps off both sun and rain!"), and lots of folk who were just off their rockers.

We met a lady and her daughter doing the PCT. The daughter was normal but seemed to agree with our assessment that her mother was a little nuts. The mother told us a story about an Asian lady down the trail who spent the day going in the wrong direction--never a fun thing. Soon after that conversation, I started a little ahead of N, who was packing things up and was going to catch up. I was greeted by a man asking, "Are you hiking alone?" My response was, "No, why?" He spent about a full five minutes explaining how he had seen a glove on the trail and how he thought it belonged to this lost Asian lady and how I should pick it up and bring it to her and explain that I was doing this because "the man she passed" told me to. I assured him I would, but he kept going on and on and on. Though I looked, I never saw the glove. A few days later we met this famed lady, who was named Sunny. She told us to pass a message to her friend Sherry, who should be camping where we would be that night (Sunny was too tired to make it that far), that she was alright and that she would meet her at that location--the Muir Trail Ranch. When we got there, we discovered that she had told nearly everyone she passed to send a message to Sherry. Two firefighters, who had been roughly sharing our pace, actually talked extensively with Sherry and sought us out to see if we had seen Sunny. They convinced her to stay put until Sunny arrived. Quite a mess, if you ask me.

As with the firefighters, there were several people we saw frequently or at least a few times on the trail.  Since we couldn't remember anyone's names and it wasn't really important, we gave them nicknames.  "Ginger" for the red-headed bloke who kept referring to himself that way; he and N would hike together for stretches using each other for pacing.  "Fats" for a very kind gentleman who worked for IBM; he introduced himself with that nickname and I wondered if its origin had anything to do with FAT.  And then there was "Damascus," named after his city of origin; he had lunch with us once and shared with us some Spanish cheese.  At some point, Fats figured out that we were newlyweds (given that we're fairly young, we probably hadn't been married long) and after confirming it, he proceeded to tell everyone ahead of us (he started earlier each day).  So for the last five days or so, everyone that passed us greeted us with, "Oh! you must be the newlyweds!  Congratulations!" Blah blah blah (see paragraph 2).

As we neared Whitney, one of my favorite encounters was with a teenage boy.  I was chugging along and this boy comes galloping down from nowhere.  After getting my attention, he asks, "What trail am I on?"  I was a little flummoxed that he didn't know where he was, but I responded saying that I was on the JMT to Whitney.  He just looked at me.  I asked him where he was going and I still got the stare.  After naming a few points of potential interest, we worked it out and I sent him on his way.  How can one get so confused?  Anyway, that's enough blathering.  Feast your eyes on some photos.

About to start out.  We're so clean and happy.  Aww!

Lots of streams and rivers to cross, with and without shoes.

 Sunset after a thunderstorm right before Donahue pass.

 Wildflowers!  These ones came in a beautiful lavender too.
 Many waterfalls from melting snow in stunningly clear lakes.
 Granite in abundance.

 Thousand Island Lake.

 N's favorite type of landscape.  (That's Ginger behind him.)

 Very blue and very cold.  N jumped in one of them.


This picture makes me want to go back very badly.

 I kept calling this one "Trinity."

 Hopping lake to lake.

 One of my favorite views.



Grey and blue.

 These trees were fascinating.  Closeup of the ribbed wood.

 More wildflowers.  (The wildlife was fairly elusive.)

Though I missed deer, chipmunks, and all sorts of birds, I managed to snap several photos of one particularly chubby marmot.

 Day before Whitney!

 A strange desert in the mountains.

Several people camped near this lake.  Look closely to see one flying a kite.

 We stayed above Guitar Lake (pictured) before the final climb.  The lake shimmered--the photo doesn't do it justice.

 We woke up at 4 am to someone rummaging around near our camp.  After that, we couldn't sleep, so we joined the train of lights starting in the wee hours.  This was some of the first light to hit.

 I'm at the tippy top!

 Him too.

 The plaque.

On the way down.

Once we got down, we had some delicious (and expensive) burgers and fries, took showers, and started looking for a ride.  We got down early (a Saturday) and given the bus schedule, we wouldn't be able to make it back to our car for a few days.  N held up a "Yosemite" sign, that being where our car was parked, and I held up the sign in the picture below.  After about a half hour, we caught a ride in the back of a pickup (a dad had taken a bunch of teenage boys backpacking) amidst a bunch of backpacks. He took us to Bakersfield, where my Mom picked us up.  After a day of rest, we borrowed one of my parent's cars to pick up ours.  Cars are so fast.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Beautiful photos -- like the ribbed wood on the tree shot a lot.

Thanks for sharing!