Day: 11 | Distance: 22.9 mi | Mountain Pass: 8/10 – Pinchot Pass (12,100’), 9/10 – Glen Pass (11,980’)
Lake Marjorie to Pinchot Pass
As I start my trek early in the morning, Lake Marjorie is a beautiful sight, reflecting the sunlit mountains around me like glass. Today, I’ll be crossing two passes, Pinchot Pass and Glen Pass. My first pass for the day is Pinchot Pass, and from my campsite, it’s a short hike to the summit. Upon reaching the top, I meet a husband and wife in their late 50s and early 60s who are ultra runners from San Diego, section hiking the JMT. Interestingly, they’re regulars on the mountains I hike locally, and we chat for a while.
Pinchot Pass to Rae Lakes
We head down the trail off the pass and into the valley below, where a creek rages alongside us most of the way to the famous Woods Creek suspension bridge.
After crossing the bridge, I stop for lunch by the creek before continuing on up to Rae Lakes. The lakes are absolutely pristine and stunning, but I don’t have much time to admire them as a storm is brewing, and I still have to climb my second pass of the day, Glen Pass.
Glenn Pass to Vidette Meadow
Reaching the top of Glen Pass takes only an hour or so, and it looks like I beat the storm. However, shortly after I top the pass, it starts to get dark, and I have to throw on my headlamp and continue my hike. At a little after 9:30 pm, I spot a fireball in the sky that is too big and bright to be a shooting star. The fireball takes almost 20 seconds before it disappears behind the mountains. It’s one of the most spectacular displays I’ve ever seen in my life.
We heard an explosion just a few minutes later that stuns us. After the trip, Don @wandering_biped and I find out that the fireball was actually a rocket booster reentering the Earth’s atmosphere, and the explosion we heard was likely a sonic boom. This turns out to be one eerie night hike.
Around 10:00 pm, we find a campsite in Vidette Meadow. We’re both exhausted from the hike and decide to make camp and hit the sack. We don’t have dinner tonight, as we’re just too tired. Tomorrow is a new day, and Forester Pass will be a guaranteed challenge at 13,200 feet.
Overall, today was a successful day with two mountain passes crossed. Pinchot Pass, which stands at 12,100 feet, was my eighth pass of the trip, while Glen Pass, standing at 11,980 feet, was my ninth. The hike by Rae Lakes is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trail. It’s a must-see for anyone hiking the JMT.
Links & Resources
- John Muir Trail Day 13 – Mt. Whitey Summit from Crabtree Meadows Past Guitar Lake - January 10, 2017
- John Muir Trail Day 12 – Vidette Meadows Over Forester Pass to Crabtree Meadows. - January 9, 2017
- John Muir Trail Day 11 – Lake Marjorie over Pinchot Pass and Glen Pass to Vidette Meadows. - January 8, 2017