Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day 4, Garnet Lake

We woke up early with high hopes. Today would be true high sierra country. Alpine lakes along the John Muir Trail and giant mountains all around. No dilly dallying in the morning just bundled up against the cold (yup frozen water again) and started the climb out of Johnston Meadow.
Our first break found us trailing along meadow edges enjoying small grassy lakes. I was last on this section of trail back in 2008 southbounding and all I remembered was a long hot dusty area that I hadn't been too excited to get back to. Well early October mornings heading north are a whole different story, nicely graded climb and lovely views.

A few steep switchbacks down and we made it to our first lake, Gladys and then Rosalie. Our lunchtime goal was a long break at Shadow Lake so after some snacking on we went.

Gladys Lake
The switchbacks down to Shadow were relentless. That was one long trek down. We stopped and waited for Anna, she had fallen pretty far behind and as usual I worried if we were tackling to much. Clouds were rolling in and we were fully wrapped in our warm gear as our little band finally sat down for a pretty lunch break. Anna was looking exhausted but said she was up for continuing on...

Shadow Lake
across the canyon from Shadow is the PCT, we will heading that way on our way back tomorrow

We started the climb along Shadow Creek, the mountains became even more glorious and the creek was a gorgeous cascading thing that was heaven to spend a mile following. 

We were pretty excited about how quickly the first mile went and after chatting with some hikers it was time for the slow climb towards Garnet lake, 1.6 miles away and then only 2.5 until our goal for the day, Thousand Island Lake.

I was enjoying the climb, it was nicely graded and the views were kept getting better. As we continued to head up towards pass Diana started to crash. Not enough snacks make for lousy hiking and suddenly I was the only one excited. Oh well at least I was enjoying the views.

as usual photos don't capture the massiveness of the surrounding rock

We made it over the top and there was Garnet Lake, gorgeous. Of course it was beautiful but there's nothing like cresting a ridge and seeing a new view unfold before you. It always makes me all sappy and silly.

The wind started whipping and soon enough we were at the lake outlet, we hunkered down in some trees and discussed options. At first Diana was all for continuing on, as the talk continued and Anna still hadn't caught up I saw her wavering. I was itching to leave but was worried about how late it was getting. At 3 pm there was plenty of time to get 2.5 miles farther, except that Anna still hadn't shown. Earlier she had only been 15 min or so behind but that had stretched as the day progressed. And then the coffin was nailed shut. Diana admitted she had no energy to go on and thought we should stay. We boiled some water and right as the hot chocolate was ready Anna rounded the corner looking exhausted. The group wins, Garnet would be our camp for the night. I set off scouting for a spot to camp and soon enough it was leisure time. Oh well, another short day but at least there was reading time.

Time is starting to get tight and both my hiking partners really struggled today. I'm not so sure how the next two days will go with the mileage and approaching snow but I'm crossing my fingers that it will be smooth.

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