Day 17: In Which Hamburgers, Fries, and Root Beer Begin to Dominate All My Thoughts

Daily: 15.5 miles
Trip: 182.0 miles
Camp: South of Bubbs Creek Trail

Flat ground doesn’t exist any more. We started the day dropping 1300 feet. Good news is that we were hiking among beautiful waterfalls and junipers. I’m starting to realize waterfalls are just what you get on the JMT. The water has no choice but to flow through channels in the rocks since there is no dirt up here. And the terrain is steep enough that waterfalls have to happen every few feet. I think we’ve been within hearing of a waterfall almost the entire hike! Predictably, once we finished going down, we took a turn and climbed back up 2000 feet by lunchtime. With more waterfalls.

It was a pretty low energy day for me. 17 days in a row of hiking now and a tough walk the day before – I was struggling. It’s common for hikers to take ‘zero days’ on long trails. Those are days in which we don’t do any trail hiking. But my brother and I had decided that we’d skip that on this hike, since we both had family & work pressures and didn’t feel the luxury of a day off was needed. We’re ahead of our planned schedule by a day now, so there’s time – but no food. We’re not carrying enough to spend a day off our feet without going hungry. So there’s not much to do but force food & water, slow the pace and keep walking! We’re only 30 miles from the end of the trail now and 40 miles from getting a hamburger!

After lunch there was a fun surprise! Well, actually, it wasn’t a surprise. And it wasn’t fun either. 1400 feet up Glen Pass! Glen, like Pinchot and Mather, is just a rock wall. You climb your way slowly up it and then drop slowly down the far side. Don’t get me wrong – it’s amazing. There are clear tarns in view and more peaks in sight than I’ve ever seen before. All rock. No trees, bushes, dirt, etc. The cool thing is that there are always flowers, even at the top of these high passes. They grow out of small pockets of sand and are wedged between rocks everywhere possible.

G.O. and I worked our way down the steep south side and ended up with a campsite south of Bubbs Creek trail, about four miles down from the pass. We were early enough for another wash up using the bear can, creek water and soap. That gets dumped into the woods a good distance from the running water when I’m through with it. Lots of Ramen for dinner tonight. I’m starting to get to the bottom of my bear can and constantly thinking and talking about the tasty foods coming up in a few days!

Forrester Pass tomorrow is our final pass on the JMT and, once over the top, the hardest days should be behind us. Less than three days to a hamburger, soda, shower, and calls to my family!

Day 18: In Which We Appreciate that 13,153 Foot Forrester Pass Is Really High and Continue to Ogle at Trailwork