Lake Marjorie over Pinchot Pass and Glen Pass to Vidette MeadowsJohn Muir Trail, Day 11

  • Day11/13
  • Distance (miles)22.9
  • Pass 8 and 9 of 10Pinchot Pass / Glen Pass
  • Pass Elevation (ft.)12,100 / 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.

Hiking down into the valley from Pinchot Pass.
On our way down from Pinchot Pass

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.

Hiking through a forested valley towards Woods Creek.
Making our way towards the Woods Creek suspension bridge.

After crossing the bridge, I stop for lunch by the creek before continuing up to Rae Lakes. The lakes are 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.

Painted Lady in Rae Lakes.
The Painted Lady in Ray Lakes

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.

The view of upper Rae Lakes from Glenn Pass.
Looking north from the top of Glen Pass. Ray Lakes can be seen in the valley below.

We heard an explosion just a few minutes later that stunned us. After the trip, Don and I found 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.

A small lake on top of Glen Pass.
One of two pristine lakes we passed on our way down the south side of Glen Pass

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.

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