Rae Lakes to Lake Marjorie (793.5 to 808.6)
Daily miles: 15.1
The mornings in the Sierra are cold and I don’t want to move until the sun hits my tent. Too bad that on this morning a big mountain range blocks the rays and I’m forced to get up and moving still in the mountain shadow. The sun feels a long time coming up today, but eventually it does and then I take off all my warm layers and enjoy the long steady walk down out of the drainage.
So, the the Sierra hike goes is like this: you hike 3000-4000 feet up out of a drainage and crest a pass, which is a natural spot to cross over a group of steep mountains, then you hike down 3000-4000 feet out of the next drainage and do it all again. The passes of the Sierra (south to north) are: Forester, Glen, Pinchot, Mather, Muir, Selden, Silver, and Donahue. I’ve already covered Forester and did Glen last night, so today it’s up and over Pinchot.
It’s a demanding pass because the approach is long and requires a good deal of elevation gain. I spend the afternoon gasping and leaning hard on my trekking poles. The basin south of the pass is huge and open and I have to find the route along the snowfields. Sometimes I can make my way along the path of previous hikers, and sometimes I make my own.
By 5:30 I’ve made it up, totally gassed, and look out to the north, beyond Lake Marjorie and off to the valley below. The earth rises up again in the distance and I eye the chain of mounatains that hold Mather Pass, tomorrow’s challenge.
But it’s just that: a challenge for another day. I make my way down quickly and easily and set up at a great site that makes for outstanding evening views. The wind dies down and the night is calm. I’m elated to have Pinchot Pass behind me.