Thursday, August 6, 2015

JMT Day 12: Flower Lake to Charlotte Lake

All I have to say about understanding Sierra weather is: Learn from my mistake. I woke up July 21 to a beautiful day and thought, "Those weather forecasters were full of it. What thunderstorms?"

Flower Lake

Flower Lake

See? Beautiful weather. What thunderstorms? So I packed up my little tent and hit the trail.

My Campsite

It turns out that a beautiful blue sky in the morning in the Sierras does not guarantee good weather the rest of the day. And in this case, I really should have known better, because I knew the weather forecast was for 90% chance of thunderstorms til 11pm that night. But there was also a forecast for thunderstorms the day before and the weather had been rain-free, albeit cloudy. And there is this beautiful thing called denial...

Now comes the part of the hike where you've left the waterfalls and streamside wildflowers behind and you are left with talus, a few brave high altitude plants and animals, and the question, "Which tall awful thing will I have to hike up?"

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Kearsarge Pass
Kearsarge Pass

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DSC_0102

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Same flower, close up

DSC_0121

And, at last, I reached the top, and got the reward for my efforts:

View from the Top

View from the Top

I got the sense that this little guy has a steady supply of dropped food from hikers going up Kearsarge Pass... we get our resupplies, and he gets his.

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

Actually, here's my real reward for that climb, even more than the view:

Sky Pilot
Sky Pilot

Sky Pilot is a flower endemic to the Sierras and it only grows at the highest altitudes. When you see this flower, you know you've climbed pretty dang high. In other words, you don't get to see Sky Pilot without earning it.

I continued down to the JMT at Charlotte Lake. It's 3 miles from Kearsarge Pass to the JMT, and another half mile to a mile to Charlotte Lake. Charlotte Lake is pretty but you go down 400 feet in elevation from the trail to get there (and then back up it the next day). I was not sure if I wanted to camp there, making today a short day in miles, or continue north to Rae Lakes. Going to Rae Lakes meant going over Glen Pass. That wouldn't be fun, and it would make my day long and hard. But if I stayed at Charlotte Lake, my day would be rather short.

Instead of deciding, I took pictures of Bullfrog Lake, which was very pretty from the higher of the two trails going down from Kearsarge toward the JMT.

View from Kearsarge Pass

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The Way Down

Gentian
Gentian

Bullfrog Lake
Bullfrog Lake

Bullfrog Lake

Bullfrog Lake
Bullfrog Lake

Bullfrog Lake

By the way, notice the clouds building up in those pics of Bullfrog Lake? By the time I reached Charlotte Lake, it looked like this:

Charlotte Lake

And this:

Charlotte Lake

And there was thunder. No way I could attempt Glen Pass. I hunkered down at Charlotte Lake and endured one of the longest rainstorms of my trip. And, with nothing else to do, I think I fell asleep around 4pm.

Day 12 miles hiked: 5.8
Day 12 elevation gain: 1350 ft
Total Distance Hiked to date: 83.5 mi
Total JMT distance hiked to date: 48.1 mi

All of my JMT photos can be seen here.

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