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JMT '14 - Day 3 - Sand Walking and the Ashel Adams Experience

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JMT '14 - Day 3 - Sand Walking and the Ashel Adams Experience
August 07, 2014 08:26PM
Day 3: July 17, 2014

The previous night, like that before it, had been unusually warm; unlike the first night, however, I slept very well at Garnet. And, the next morning started like the previous one: light clouds maintaining the threat of rain. The biggest difference (for me): I had an appetite and didn't feel lethargic.

One odd thing about the monsoonal system we were experiencing was a distinct lack of wind--it was as if we were in an Alpine (or rather Sierran) doldrum. Garnet and Shadow lakes barely had ripples on them; only at Rosalie did we experience a breeze.

The light clouds cleared a bit as we climbed out of Garnet, dropped into Shadow Creek, then climbed past its namesake calm, serene lake.

The breeze at Rosalie was enough for us to dry out our once-again damp gear. Although the sun was strong when our rest stop began, clouds were forming quickly, and we had no reason to expect anything different from the previous day's weather.

When A and I had hiked this segment in 2008, we were at the end of a long day (we had started just south of Donahue Pass), and we were further brought down by the fact that JKW had had to abandon the JMT at Thousand Island Lake due to injury. Past Rosalie there is not nearly as much scenery, and the trail was dusty and dry. Reflecting that we were in the San Joaquin drainage and Ansel Adams Wilderness, we nicknamed this section the "Sand Walking" and "Ashel Adams" segment. With fresh legs, an intact and healthy hiking party, and recent rains, it wasn't nearly as monotonous or dusty as it had been then. We passed though many trees blown over in the winter 2010 windstorm--we would see these trees as far as Tully Hole.

The walk past the mostly unseen Trinity Lakes was uneventful, as was the leisurely descent to Minaret Creek, where we stopped to fill up on water. The clouds had continued to build up, but we were also leaving the big mountains behind as we dropped to Reds Meadow. The trail along this segment exhibited rutting from recent heavy rains--perhaps yesterday's.

We chose to bypass the short segment of the JMT between Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow, deciding instead to catch a shuttle bus at the Devils Postpile visitor center. (The H party, which was ahead of us, opted for the full JMT experience.) That stretch had been the worst of the "Ashel Adams" segments for A and me. After rejoining civilization, we reached Reds Meadow via shuttle and were soon checked into our cabin, cold beer in hand.

Beer, resupply box, shower, recharge, repack... (The clouds had made it difficult to keep everything charged with solar power.) JKW, A, and I enjoyed a simple meal at the restaurant. J had to retrieve a car from Mammoth; when she returned she brought back Thai food and a great deal of ice cream.

In the distance we could see dark clouds over the Ritter Range and Minarets--we couldn't tell if today's performance was a repeat of yesterday's, but it could have been. It threatened to rain at Reds in the evening, but never did.

While returning to the store for another beer, we ran into P. She wanted to get a jump start on the following day, so after some navigational assistance, she headed off towards Crater Meadow.

We learned that the weather forecast for the next few days was effectively unchanged--continued monsoonal moisture through Sunday. Based on this we effectively struck the second SHR segment--Mammoth Pass to Duck Lake--from the itinerary due to its exposure.

I slept well in our cabin that night. The forecast was for "more of the same", and the next three days would have to be much longer than our first three. The only afternoon pass before MTR was Selden Pass, and A and I had crossed that after waiting out the only thunderstorm we encountered on our hike. Everyone was hiking strong and despite the weather our spirits were high.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/07/2014 09:03PM by basilbop.
avatar Re: JMT '14 - Day 3 - Sand Walking and the Ashel Adams Experience
August 08, 2014 09:16AM
Lovely! Thanks for the additional reportage.
Re: JMT '14 - Day 3 - Sand Walking and the Ashel Adams Experience
August 08, 2014 09:57AM
Sorry - recovering from cold and just couldn't get it together last night to add my comments quickly.

The hike to Reds was lovely. Very pleasant. But Reds itself was magical. Both main parties converged on the room. The only fixed date when we started the planning was the date when I could get a room at Reds at any convenient time during our window of opportunity. Doesn't always happen. I was lucky and had a choice: motel room with two beds, or biggest cabin with room for up to 8. I chose the latter even when there were only 3 of us committed. But then the numbers grew. And we had a blast. There were 7 of us there, P arriving late afternoon was welcome to stay with us, but wanted to get a jump on the trail.

As we rotated in and out of the shower and worked on our resupply packing... I don't know,it's hard to explain, but it just felt great. No fixed agenda, all fluid and pretty easy-going. Rain threatened, but never materialized. On the trail I had been thinking of an early shower, a nap, dinner and bed. In reality, the shower was great (good), no nap (bad), and dinner was perfect for me: a truly tasty Tuna Melt with Pasta Salad. I was in piggy heaven and though I thought about ordering a second one, I knew my stomach wouldn't hold that much food. Anyway, since we kept chatting and digging through the hikers' bins of "shared" food, and saying hi to various other hikers, we went to bed later than we did on the trail! It was hard to say goodbye to one of the H group, and the weight of knowing the last really easy resupply fixes and the last really easy bail point was about to be left behind probably added to the energy, but it was a lovely night.

I am doing an awful job of describing the atmosphere there, but it was just sublime. We talked about it afterwards. A really special time for us all, I think.
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