John Muir Trail Revisited (2) 09-Sep-2022

Day 2: Johnston Lake to Gladys Lake

Today was planned as another short travel day (4.2 miles / 6.7 km) but one with some elevation gain (1,600 feet / 488 m). We’d be camping at Gladys Lake, which has a large stock camp (and backpacker campsites) on its north side.

Johnston Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
A smoke-tainted morning at Johnston Lake

The day opened sunny but not fully clear, with a haze and a slight smoky smell in the air. We suspected it might be from the Mosquito Fire on the west side of the Sierras or from one of the fires smoldering around Yosemite Valley. Our trip in 2020 had been plagued by wildfire smoke and we were not at all interested in that happening again.

Johnston Lake sits at the junction of the John Muir Trail (JMT) and the trail to Minaret Lake. The trail to that lake goes straight ahead – directly in line with the JMT – while the JMT actually makes a sharp turn to the north here toward Gladys Lake.

It looked like a few of the NOBOs were so focused on powering up the trail that they missed this turn and plowed straight on toward Minaret Lake. It’s a beautiful lake, but let’s hope they caught themselves in time.

Other than some haze, the weather was pleasant, and the hiking easy, as we worked our way up the JMT, past the Trinity Lakes, to Gladys Lake.

Up the JMT with some smoke in the air
Clyde Minaret from the John Muir Trail
A hazy view of Clyde Minaret
On the JMT
There were a surprising number of mushrooms still out
Trinity Lakes, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
One of the Trinity Lakes
Mushroom or cuttlefish?

Even though summer was coming to an end, the trail was busy with backpackers going in both directions. Some were obviously section hikers, while other seemed to be hurrying to finish the JMT before the snow flies. NOBOs had a good chance at this, while SOBOs were going to have to make a lot of miles fast, really fast.

Continuing on the JMT
More uphill
Mushroom or nudibranch?
Gladys Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Gladys Lake

Gladys Lake sits on a bench on the edge of the deep valley carved by the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River. So, not far from camp, we had a great view east toward San Joaquin Mountain and Two Teats and south down the valley – where we could see a lot of smoke. Our worries about this smoke reaching us were misplaced – we’d soon find that this year’s theme was going to be rain, not smoke. 🙄

San Joaquin Mountain and Two Teats
Looking east from camp: San Joaquin Mountain (1, climbed in 1983) and Two Teats (2)
Looking south toward smoke in the valley
Gladys Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Gladys Lake

Bonnie and Jim reached camp last, with Bonnie not feeling at all well. 😟 We suspected altitude sickness but couldn’t rule out other, more serious, possibilities. But it was late in the day, so the best course of action was for her to hydrate and rest and we’d see how she felt in the morning.

Afternoon clouds gathered. A few raindrops fell. Then the weather returned to dry, warm, and sunny. So, once again, most of us were able to gather around the kitchen to enjoy dinner in the open. 😁

From Johnston Lake to Gladys Lake on the JMT

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