John Muir Trail Revisited (3) 10-Sep-2022

Day 3: Gladys Lake to Clarice Lake

Today we planned to take the hiking up a notch by going 5.9 miles (9.6 km) to a stock camp near Clarice Lake, with a steep descent to, and then climb up from, Shadow Lake – for a total gain of some 1,200 feet (366 m).

But first we had to: (1) see how Bonnie was doing and (2) locate the mules. Later we’d have to: (1) survive a massive rain and hail storm 🌧😧 and (2) find a campsite near Clarice Lake. Ah, life on the trail… πŸ˜’

Bonnie was feeling better this morning but, unfortunately, not good enough. 🀒 There were still lingering doubts about whether it was just altitude sickness or something worse. After a lot of soul searching, she and Jim decided to self-evacuate back to Reds Meadow while it was still relatively easy to do so. This was a truly sad decision for them, and for the rest of us as well. 😒

They made it out without any problems and her condition was just altitude sickness. We had all acclimated but only by going up and back in a day, not by staying at a higher altitude for any length of time. Certainly not long enough to see if real altitude sickness was going to kick in – which, in Bonnie’s case, it did. They were missed… πŸ˜”

It’s no longer common practice to hobble the horses and mules at night; they are simply let out to graze at will. Sometimes they graze close; sometimes not so close. This morning they decided to wander back down the trail and Jacob had to go retrieve them. We couldn’t start hiking until the animals were accounted for, so we didn’t get on the trail until mid-morning.

The day had dawned clear and was sunny and mild when we began hiking. It stayed that way as we went past beautiful Rosalie Lake, made the steep descent to Shadow Lake, crossed Shadow Creek, and then began our ascent of the divide between Shadow and Garnet Lakes.

Early morning at Gladys Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Early morning at Gladys Lake
Jacob returns with the mules
And we get on the trail…
Crossing into the Shadow Creek drainage
Rosalie Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Rosalie Lake
Mount Ritter and Banner Peak, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Mount Ritter (1) and Banner Peak (2)
Descending to Shadow Lake
Shadow Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Shadow Lake
Shadow Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Shadow Creek
An ancient Juniper along the John Muir Trail (JMT)
Shadow Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Shadow Creek

The clouds arrived by the time we reached Shadow Lake – they just didn’t look particularly threatening then. But as we began our climb out of the Shadow Creek drainage, the weather changed abruptly for the worse. First, dark clouds built at an alarming rate. Then thunder pealed. 🌩 Then a downpour started. 🌧 Then hail fell, lots of hail. We donned rain gear but the hail was so intense (and painful) we had to stop hiking and seek refuge in a clump of trees. All this lasted – luckily – only about an hour.

The sky threatens with Banner Peak in the distance
The weather goes bad – fast!
Why are these wet people smiling?

The rain relented for a bit and we were able to garb a quick lunch in relative dryness. Our pack string caught up with us about then and it was time to look for a camp. Unfortunately, Jacob had been told (by his management) to camp “near Clarice or Laura Lakes” but had not been given any specifics as to where “near” might be or how to get there. 🀨

Fortunately, I had spotted an old, old use trail branching off from the JMT toward the lakes and Jacob and KK were able to guide the pack string along it to a suitable campsite. Unfortunately, it started raining again – heavily – as we worked our way to this campsite.

Lunch during a break in the weather
Clyde Minaret and the return of the rain

Once in camp, Jacob and KK pitched a tarp (they were really good at this) and we unloaded our gear and set-up our tents under it. Then we moved the tents out to our individual campsites and moved our gear into them. Thus we kept us and our stuff just slightly damp and not totally soaked.

We ate dinner under the trap and decided to take our planned layover day on the morrow – mainly just to dry out. Spoiler alert: the rain quit about 20.00 and the next day was warm and sunny. 😁

Unloading the mules under the tarp
Gladys Lake to Clarice Lake on the JMT

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