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Steve, Katherine, and Norah | profile | all galleries >> John Muir Trail 2017 >> Days 6 and 7: Forester Pass Basin to Kearsarge Lakes (plus rest day) tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Days 6 and 7: Forester Pass Basin to Kearsarge Lakes (plus rest day)

Day 6: Forester Pass Basin to Kearsarge Lakes
13.8 miles, 2745 ft elevation gain, 3665 ft elevation loss

*phew* Today was our longest and hardest day. We made the right decision the day before when we hiked a few more miles past Tyndall Creek to camp; otherwise we might not have made it to Kearsarge Lakes. By the numbers, this day wasnít that much worse than others, but we were knackered by the time we got to Kearsarge Lakes. I think the kicker was a final 3.5 mile, 1400 ft elevation climb from Vidette Meadows to the lakes at the end of the day. I was worried we might not make it before dark, but we pulled it out.

In retrospect we didnít manage our time the best this day. A happy Norah makes a much better trail companion, so we let her sleep in a bit and didnít hit the trail until 8:30. It took us awhile to climb to Forester Pass; we had about three miles and 1400 feet to climb, and then we spent over an hour on the pass. In our defense, it was a gorgeous day with beautiful views, so it was easy to linger there. At 13,180 feet, Forester Pass is the highest pass on the John Muir Trail and also one of the most impressive trail sections as far as trail engineering. It seemed almost impossible that there was a trail there, but it was a good one.

We ascended Forester Pass in Sequoia National Park and descended in Kings Canyon NP. The views were stellar and we had no problems in the snow patches (detours were well marked). At one point Norah sat on a boulder and it rolled - luckily she escaped with only a scraped leg - otherwise, our descent was uneventful. It was a long descent to Vidette Meadows - 7.4 miles and 3,665 feet down. Even though it was all down, it felt like a slog at times, especially once we were back below treeline following Bubbs Creek. Just when we were really tired of the forest and hiking and wondering if we somehow missed the trail junction, we came to it and set out on the final climb. After 1.5 miles we turned east and passed by a small unnamed pond and scenic Bullfrog Lake, but were in no mood to appreciate them as we were focused on getting to Kearsarge Lakes. We finally made it and were treated to some fantastic views and a nice campsite at the upper lake. It was worth the long day to camp here for two nights and be in position for Steveís hike to Onion Valley for resupply the next day. We left the rain fly off so we could fall asleep to the starry night sky - one of my favorite things on our trip was all the wonderful star gazing - so peaceful and beautiful!

Day 7: Onion Valley Resupply (via Kearsarge Pass)
11.6 miles, 3545 ft elevation gain, 3545 ft elevation loss

Our campsite got sun early, which was nice, and we had a pleasant morning at camp enjoying the views, assessing food, and making resupply plans. Steve took off for Onion Valley and Norah and I enjoyed a lazy day around camp - went for a walk, played Uno, read our Kindles, and just relaxed. We had arranged our resupply through Mt. Williamson Motel in Independence. Several weeks before our trip we mailed our supplies in five gallon buckets and set our pickup date. By some quirk of the law, they couldnít bring our buckets to the trailhead, but would pick up Steve at a predetermined time, drive the 13 miles to Independence where he could pick up the food and drive him back to the trailhead. We had way too much food, so Steve only brought part of our resupply and left the other items to be donated to the CCC. He also had a chance to go to the gas station to pick up a few extra items. When he returned to Kearsarge Lakes it was like he had Santaís bag when he pulled out a Mountain Dew and Funyuns for Norah.

It was another beautiful afternoon and evening at camp. We ate our dinner while admiring the views, did camp chores, and spent some time studying the maps to plan the second half of our trip. We had seven days, but decided we would likely do it in six to gain a day, which would be easier for post-trip logistics. In the end we did it in five - a combination of where we wanted to camp and being highly motivated for real food, beer, and a hot shower. :) After mulling over the map I capped off the night with some Milky Way shots - I couldnít get enough of the stars!
A look at Forester Pass
A look at Forester Pass
Alpine tarn
Alpine tarn
Ready for the switchbacks
Ready for the switchbacks
Up, up, up
Up, up, up
Making our way to the pass
Making our way to the pass
A look back
A look back
Almost there
Almost there
Forester Pass - highest pass on the JMT
Forester Pass - highest pass on the JMT
Forester Pass panorama
Forester Pass panorama
View of the basin from Forester Pass
View of the basin from Forester Pass
Norah on Forester Pass
Norah on Forester Pass
Descending Forester Pass
Descending Forester Pass
Navigating the snow
Navigating the snow
Steve and Norah descending Forester Pass
Steve and Norah descending Forester Pass
Steve and Norah descending Forester Pass
Steve and Norah descending Forester Pass
Descending Forester Pass
Descending Forester Pass
Steve and Norah check out our route
Steve and Norah check out our route
Steve and Norah with a great view
Steve and Norah with a great view
Steve and Norah with a great view
Steve and Norah with a great view
Unnamed lake below Forester Pass
Unnamed lake below Forester Pass
Long descent
Long descent
Heading to Vidette Meadows
Heading to Vidette Meadows
Heading to Kearsarge Lake
Heading to Kearsarge Lake
East Vidette Mountain
East Vidette Mountain
Bullfrog Lake
Bullfrog Lake
First look at Kearsarge Lake
First look at Kearsarge Lake
Heading down to the lake
Heading down to the lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Tent with a view
Tent with a view
Kearsarge Lake campsite
Kearsarge Lake campsite
Ground squirrel
Ground squirrel
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Funyuns!
Funyuns!
Kearsarge Lake
Kearsarge Lake
Alpine shooting star
Alpine shooting star
Steve and Norah enjoy the view
Steve and Norah enjoy the view
Milky Way above Kearsarge Pinnacles
Milky Way above Kearsarge Pinnacles
Milky Way reflection
Milky Way reflection
Milky Way from our campsite
Milky Way from our campsite