JMT – Day 5 – Garnet Lake to Red’s Meadow

Morning at Garnet Lake

Morning at Garnet Lake

August 7, 2014

What a beautiful morning I keep thinking as we break from the comfort of our warm sleeping bags and crawl outside the tent where the first morning lights welcomes us. It’s quiet and peaceful and not even a slight breeze dares to break the serenity of the new day. We take time this morning to enjoy the sunrise and birds start singing in the nearby trees. For the moment everything feels in place, everything feels perfect.

The trail is not difficult today, we only have two uphills ahead of us, one shortly after leaving our camp, and it takes us on a ridge away from Garnet Lake where we find the famous hemlock tree guarding the trail that we saw on so many photographs when researching the trail. We take our own photo here, the colors washed out by the mid morning sun are not perfect but the sun is a welcome guest and I am not to complain. At least not for now.

My thoughts change in the afternoon when we start descending towards Devil’s Postpile, a geological gem of the Ansel Adams’ wilderness. We have just climbed our second up, a shaded ascent from Shadow Lake but now the sun is beating on us without mercy and the thin forest of wilted trees offers little shade. The temperature rises as we approach the valley floor and when we think it can’t get any hotter, the thermometer dangling from my pack proves us wrong. We’re on a downhill, aided by gravity, and still I struggle to find energy for the next move. Dave handles the heat much better but for both of us the last few miles seem never ending.

Columnar basalt of Devil's Postpile

Columnar basalt of Devil’s Postpile

Atop the Postpile

Atop the Postpile

The impressive display of columnar basalt, does not lie directly on the JMT but it is a site we don’t want to miss. From there we can continue to Red’s Meadow and reconnect with the trail without the need to backtrack. We still need to conquer a short uphill but it’s nothing in comparison with the hill we descended from the JMT/Postpile junction and soon we cross a wide paved road and walk into a large campground with picnic tables and other luxuries of civilization. From there it is a mere ¼ mile to Red’s Meadow Cafe and their famous milkshake.

We join the East Coasters who are also spending a night in the area and over a burger, fries and a shake compare notes from our trips. Sadly we  learn that Irvin’s journey is finishing here. With limited time off available it was his plan all along to catch the bus from Red’s Meadow and return home but I can see in his eyes that he learned to love the trail and wished he had the resources to continue.

Resupply location #2

Resupply location #2

Back in the camp a quick sorting of our second resupply takes place. Tomorrow starts with a long uphill and weight is a concern but again we only carry food for three days and wishfully think our packs won’t feel too heavy.

Miles today: 13.2
Cumulative miles hiked: 58.7    Miles left: 152.3

Tomorrow will take us back into higher, cooler altitude. Tomorrow we will also learn how innocently looking small puffy cloud can hail a storm.

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