Day 16: Let Me Tell You About My Favorite Pass


8/9/2018 Suspension Bridge –> Upper Vidette Meadow

I woke up early like I planned but I took my time with my breakfast and didn’t end up actually hitting the trail until about 9:30 am. I made my way through the rest of the valley, eager to get to Rae Lakes, as I had heard that this was one of the most beautiful spots on the trail. I planned on eating lunch there so I would have to hustle a little bit in order to make it there by lunchtime.


Along the way, I was stopped by a nice ranger to show my permit. We chatted a little bit and then I continued on my way. I didn’t quite make it to Rae Lakes by lunchtime, I was near a smaller lake called Arrowhead Lake. There are a few campsites with bear boxes there and in one of the bear boxes I found a bunch of food with a note attached that said: “take me”. There were a few slightly sketchy Ziploc bags filled with mystery food, but I took some protein bars and tuna packets, both of which I had been running low on!


I was happy with my find until I headed back out toward the trail. I saw a black plastic trash bag tangled in the bushes, the second one I had seen this trip! (The first was just before Silver Pass). I picked it up, and unlike the other one, this one was full of trash! I was so mad. We are hiking in this beautiful spot and someone had the audacity to just leave their trash on MY trail. Grr.


I picked up the trash bag and strapped it to the outside of my pack, determined to find a ranger station or a bear box I could leave it in. This still wouldn’t be the best option, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to carry it out the rest of the way, because the area I would be staying in for the night wouldn’t have a bear box I could safely put it in, and leaving it in a bear box would at least keep it away from critters.


I lugged the bag and myself up over the hill leading toward Rae Lakes. I met another JMT hiker along the way and vented to him about the trash I was carrying. He and I were planning on summiting Whitney on the same day, but he was going to stay at Rae Lakes for the night, or possibly attempt to go over Glen Pass once the sun started to go down. It was really hot and that sounded like a good idea to me too, but I really wanted to get over Glen Pass as soon as I could. I planned on staying at Bubbs Creek according to my schedule, and I wanted to stick to it! We got to Rae Lakes and parted ways before I asked his name. I figured I’d see him at Whitney and continued on.


Rae Lakes was beautiful. It almost convinced me to jump in the crystal clear waters, but I didn’t have enough time in the day and wanted to keep going. I added a mental note to come back to Rae Lakes and jump in sometime in the near future, however.


I made my way up to Glen Pass and enjoyed the solitude and the weather. It was pretty hot but there were a few clouds that ended up covering a lot of the sun, so it was nice. I realized my ankle wasn’t hurting as much either and I was feeling really great! I stopped for a short break to drink some water and eat a snack before ascending the switchbacks up to Glen Pass.


There were a few people that I could see zigzagging their way up, but they were quite a ways ahead of me.

I got started and kept a steady pace going up. It was steep and harder than I anticipated but I kept pushing onward and was rewarded with fantastic views at the top. I arrived at the top completely alone and the rush of having another pass all to myself was amazing. I spent quite a long time up at the top of Glen Pass, it was safe to say that it is my favorite pass so far.


Happy at the top of the pass!

I headed down the pass and was suddenly overcome with vertigo while looking down the trail. I started singing loudly as I walked, my fear of someone else hearing me sing out loud blocking out my fear of tripping and sliding down the steep rock face. It worked surprisingly well, I must say. I had made it down the scary part and was about to get to the part where the trail starts to level out when I stepped wrong and twisted my OTHER ankle and hit the ground. Noooo!! This one hurt a lot more than the other, and I started looking around for a place to stop for the night. There was nowhere that I could see, so I stopped to rest and took some ibuprofen. I rested and massaged my ankle for almost 20 minutes and found that I could stand on it with only a little pain, thank goodness. I put my pack back on and headed down the trail, being extremely careful of where I stepped.

You can see the steep switchbacks going down in the bottom right corner of this picture

I slowly made it down to Bubbs Creek junction, where I had planned to stop for the night. The campsites all around were full, so I kept going. I made it to the next group of campsites and found many open ones, including one with a bear box! Perfect! I headed toward the bear box to leave the trash bag and was met with major disappointment.


The Rangers had locked the bear box because people were leaving too much trash behind. I thought of the irony of this and looked at my map. The next site with bear boxes was another .6 miles ahead, AND up a hill. It was starting to get dark and the last thing I wanted to do was walk even one more step but I had no choice. I headed up the hill in the direction of the campsite.


Finally, after only about 20 minutes I made it to the campsite. There was a bear box there, unlocked thankfully, and I put the trash bag inside, attaching a note to it explaining why I was leaving it and where I had found it. I felt bad but I knew this was my only option, and at least it wouldn’t be found and eaten by animals, it would just annoy the rangers a little bit. I set up camp in an empty site nearby and made some dinner. I had Alfredo Noodles and some broth that Justin had given me. There was a river nearby so I didn’t refill my water, I knew I’d be able to do it in the morning, and my water purifier took an hour to sanitize the water, and it was already getting dark and I just wanted to sleep.


I packed up my dinner making supplies and started to head to bed when another mule train came by! The cowboy who was leading it stopped near my campsite and said, “hey, do you have any clean water? I’ll trade you a beer for some filtered water!” Oh, the Alanis Morisette Irony. I told him I was all out and vowed to always refill and clean my water the first thing whenever I got to a campsite in the future. You never know when a free beer might come clomping its way up the trail. The mule train headed on into the dark, and soon all was quiet as I settled down to sleep.

See you tomorrow, thanks for reading!


Stats: Coming soon!



3 Comments Add yours

  1. Vicki L Sears says:

    I am so enjoying your trip. I’m Vicki your Uncle Mark and I used to date. He would be so proud of you. Everyday I am excited for the next day. I loved the comment about singing loud. I used to do that when I was a little girl in the dark taking the trash out. I feel blessed to be able to enjoy your journey. What a brave girl you are. God Bless You.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pepper says:

      Aww, thank you so much! I am so glad you are enjoying my stories! Singing loud definitely helps the scary stuff 🙂


  2. Karen Jensen says:

    Beware of mule trains bearing gifts…heartbreak!

    Liked by 1 person

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