JMT – Day 15 – Palisade Lakes to Marjorie Lake
August 17, 2014
As Sarah put it during our conversation last night, from now on we are on a one week backpacking trip. It’s bittersweet. While we all want to proudly pose for photographs atop the highest mountain of the continental US knowing we gained the status of a thru-hiker, at the same time we are not quite ready for the adventure to end. I remember clearly the day in the beginning of our trip when I dreaded 17 more mornings that could possibly be all cold and wet and miserable. Now I wish I had those 17 cold mornings still ahead of me.
Dave and I are the first ones out. The trail between Lower and Upper Palisade Lakes requires frequent photo stops. Still we make it to the pass in 2.5 hours, time we are happy with. Just like many of the other passes we encountered along the trail, Mather Pass is gained on switchbacks leading through a talus field. On the other side of the pass the views open across the desolate land we are headed for. We will have to cross an exposed vast plateau of loose and scattered rock before the trail drops and reaches any shade among stunted whitebark pines.
The hike, even though mostly downhill, seems to take forever. It is a forever of beautiful views and I cannot complain about that, however we are getting low on water by the time we reach the end of the valley. Luckily that is where we find the South Fork King’s River and a great lunch spot on a rock by the stream where the scarce trees provide a bit of shade. Sarah and Michelle pass us during our lunch break. We catch up with them when they rest further down the trail and promise to hold a camp if we arrive to Marjorie Lake first.
Marjorie Lake rivals the other alpine lakes on JMT in the terms of beauty. Crater Mountain dominates the skyline with Pinchott Pass to the South. There are not many campsites along the shore and the one that would be most suitable for our group is already taken. We have a choice of two slightly sloping areas. With fingers crossed we pick the one we feel is flatter.
When the breeze calms down, the locals show themselves. It is our very first mosquito encounter in the Sierras and even now we are lucky as the population of the blood thirsty culicidae seem to be manageable with occasional swing of our bandanas and except from them there is nothing that would stop us from enjoying this yet another amazing summer evening.
Miles today: 11.5
Cumulative miles hiked: 157.6 Miles left: 53.4
Tomorrow we’ll have to step up our game as we climb the second highest pass of the entire trail.