You do what you have to do to play in the Mountains

By Forrest Smith -

I was chatting for a couple minutes with a group of John Muir Trail hikers, who were lounging beneath a tree with the wildflower-lined Cold Creek tumbling over some boulders behind them. Near the end of our short conversation, I mentioned that I had woken up that morning at 2am, and drove nine hours from San Diego to get myself into this beautiful place. “You do what you have to do to get into the mountains” I shrugged as I continued on. My next goal, making it over the top of 10,990′ Goodale Pass.

It’s way too early, but today I’ll see mountains.  I even woke up before my alarm, which was set for 2:15.

The drive was long.  Longer than expected.  The last 20 miles or so were on a one-lane, paved road, with some steep up-and-downs.  It was a rough paved road, with only makeshift turnouts.  Occassionally the road would be blasted into a cliff face.  You hope another vehicle doesn’t come during those stretches.  Unfortunately other vehicles do come.  A larger water truck, and a garbage truck both made made for some interesting passing.  My small subaru tucked into a cliff as far as it will go, a large truck passing a few inches away.

I eventually came across Sue (trail name “Orange”).  She was walking up the road with a backpack on, which was good.  I have a lot of hitching karma still to pay back after our Pacific Crest Trail adventure.  I gave her a ride for a few miles so she could continue on with her John Muir Trail adventure.  She was a good spotter, keeping an eye out on the passenger side so I wouldn’t hit rocks or trees, and other things during those times when we were trying get by another vehicle coming in the opposite direction.

Goodale Pass

After waking up at 2:10, driving for nine hours, backpacking 10 miles, and climbing 3’200 feet, I made it up to the top of 10,990′ Goodale Pass for a well-deserved view.

Lone Indian Lake

Because the drive in took so long, I didn’t make it on trail until about 1:00. I had a fairly ambitious loop trip planned, but I was behind schedule.  If I were to continue as planned, I would be hiking until around 8:30, which would have been doable, but I wouldn’t get too spend too much time at my destination, and I would have a couple of additional long backpacking days.  I decided to alter my plans, and stop at the lake pictured above, Lake of the Lone Indian.  Instead of a long loop trip, I would set up a camp, and do more exploring the next day with only enough supplies needed for that day, and then return to my campsite here.  I would then also be able to get out earlier on Sunday, which would give me more time to complete that nine-hour drive back home.

My body was pretty tired from the long day.  I force-fed myself some dinner — I didn’t have too much of an apetite and went to bed slightly nauseous (I think the lack of apetite was due to elvation, and the nausea may have been the elevation, or a result of force-feeding myself freeze-dried chicken vindaloo).

Lone Indian Lake

Saturdays are always good — especially when they start out like this.

Saturday was a tour of lakes.  This is Wilber May Lake.

Peter Pande Lake

Peter Pande Lake.

Peter Pande Lake

Peter Pande Lake — You can’t quite tell from this picture, but there are beautiful sany beaches at this lake.

Anne Lake

Anne Lake sits above Peter Pande Lake.  There isn’t really a trail to it, but it’s easy enough to follow the stream up from Peter Pande Lake.  A grassy area with small trees dotting the landscape.  Clear water, jagged peaks.  This place does not suck.

Olive Lake

From Anne Lake, I did some cross-country scrambling, and then started making my way 500′ down to Olive Lake.

A shameless selfie

Olive Lake

Olive Lake — I scrambled down near the line of trees going up on the left. From Olive Lake, I had trail, so the going was easy. I circled back, making a loop.

I made it back from my day adventure, made some dinner, and caught the sunset over the Lake of the Lone Indian.

Sunday was a beautiful hike back out, and a long drive back home.  It was a great trip, even with the long drive.  I woke up on Monday morning sore —  a good measure for the overall success of a backpacking trip.