We had descended Glen Pass, then a few miles later descended into a gorgeous valley with some wonderful meadows with Bubbs Creek flowing through them. As we continued along through the forested trail, we passed some great looking camp spots near the creek. We knew this was heavy bear country. In preparation for our trip, I had read about the bears in this particular area. It mentioned that 70% of the hikers who didn't store their food properly (i.e. bear canisters or bear boxes) lost their food in this area. Hanging food here, even using the counter-balance method, is useless. We passed Vidette Meadow, which I had always read about and wanted to see and was very beautiful, as we continued higher up the basin. Then off to the right, through the trees, I spotted a buck. I quickly changed from my wide angle lens to my 70-200mm zoom and, without removing my backpack, I quietly and carefully stepped off the trail to position myself for a better shot. The buck was wary, but not spooked. It kept a close eye on me, but continued to feed on the meadow grasses. Being careful not to disturb or scare it, I s-l-o-w-l-y made my way into a clearing that allowed for an unobstructed view of this wild animal. The light was low, I had my lens zoomed out, and I was shooting handheld Velvia, so I wasn't sure if the shot would come out or not. Either way it didn't matter that much, just being there, respectful and quiet, as Jim and Surfer Dave waited back on the trail, was a cool wilderness experience.
This was the peak in front of our camp, and the moon was about to set just
as the sun turned the clouds BRIGHT red. Those clouds were jammin' too. They looked like
flames whipping up from behind the peak. It really did look like fire. But we knew it
couldn't because, well, it's all granite up there. I metered on the moon so it would be
exposed correctly while silhouetting the mountain. We all know that's what Galen would've
done. Each and every one of us. Those clouds were constantly changing, but the bright red
didn't last for long. I think I got off about 5 or 6 shots off while they peaked out and
then they started fading fast. I could've gotten more but I also wanted to enjoy the scene
without just snapping freaking shots. It was really cool to watch. Yes, my eyes were neked
at the time.
This is the next morning before we cranked Forester Pass, just downstream from where we camped. I say this often, but this was taken with my 17mm lens and it shrinks the crud out of the peaks. When you're there, you know you're in the mountains. I have this placed marked (along with a dozen others) for a return destination trip. It's too beautiful to spend so little time there. And it's wild here, there aren't any nearby trailheads. You won't see day hikers coming through this place, that's for sure. And lots of bears to boot.
This is a shot of Center Peak on this side of Forester Pass. This was a beautiful basin with nice meadows and lots of cool peaks and full of life. The creeks and lakes are full of goldens. The JMT winds through many miles of this kind of stuff. I snapped a few shots of a pretty buck close to here. We camped just up the trail and called it an early day, even though we put on 12-14 miles that day, it just seemed early. We then pysched ourselves up for Forester Pass, which we hit early the next morning. It ain't no thang.
This is near the headwaters of Bubbs Creek. We camped a hundred yards from
this pretty spot. It took a 3-stop hard GND to keep Center Peak in line. I also took it
with a 2-stop and it was still startin' to blow. Since I never knew what to do... take
photos or fish, I did both the best I could. My mode of operandi was to sneak up on a pool
like this, toss a fly in there, catch a golden or two or ten, and then stand up and set up
my tripod and watch the remaining trout scurry under rocks while I set up my camera. I
only had the luxury of doing this in the evenings and mornings while we weren't packing up
and down switchbacks and crankin' miles. I had to pass up so much good water and beautiful
scenes for the sake of mileage. But I took very good mental notes for future trips. I'm
very mental. FYI, Forester Pass goes up the far basin and to the right. 18,327 pieces of
pizza were consumed throughout the world while I took this photo. Allz I wanted was just
one. Okay, four or five. Big ones. But I would've settled for just one. Actually, I
would've settled for someone's disgarded slobbery crust at this point.
This is what we woke up to earlier that morning. Sometimes I'd roll over in my sleeping bag and grab my camera and snap straight up. The early morning sun was shining through the top of this cloud, while the rest of it looked pretty pissed off. It didn't rain that morning, so all was well.
Here Dave and Jim make their way along the trail towards Forester Pass, with the Kings-Kern Divide looming above. This was a very pretty pass to approach and even though it was supposed to be the highest and the toughest, it was the one I enjoyed the most. We had an extra spring in our step because after this pass, allz we had for big-effort-pushes were Trail Crest and the summit of Whitney, and the JMT would be all ours. The trees in this photo were the last we saw for a while, as the trail bends to the left where no trees dare to grow. As we all got stinkier on the trip, the wider the hiking gaps became between us on the trail.
Dave and Jim were a little concerned about the developing clouds, I wasn't so much, so they hiked on ahead. I also took my time on the trail taking photos and going pee and such. But I wanted to get some hiker-perspective shots as I climbed Forester Pass, so I had to be my own model. The rates were cheaper and I did what I was told, so it worked out well. Here I am looking down on a barren bowl off a high ridge while climbing Forester Pass. This is a 13,200' pass, so we wuz veddy high.
This is looking down the basin we just hiked up. We had camped that night way down below the far treeline, so we had already cranked out some elevation here. I was about 10-15 minutes from the top of the pass at this point, but I couldn't pass up the vista and some photo opps on this ridge. I could already hear Jim and Dave hootin' and hollerin' from the top of the pass. It was a very good time! And yes, I almost felt like I could reach out and grab that cloud, but I had no where to put it if I did.
Forester Pass Photos.
Yes, you can get a cell signal from Forester Pass.
Here's a shot of Jim S.comŽ descending the steep southside switchbacks of Forester Pass. There are sections of trail on this pass that you don't wanna be speeding and not make a turn. If you blow a turn here, your nearest relatives will be notified. For those of you who are queasy with heights and exposure, it's not so bad if you just hug the mountain and not peer over the edge. It's a loooOOooOOoong way down. Kerplop. Makes the JMT just that more exciting. The trail really isn't all that bad. Until you meet up with a mule-train. Luckily we didn't. In fact we saw very few horses and mules on our entire trip. It sorta looks like that lake down there has a dam, but nope, it's all natural. In the fourth photo you can barely make out Jim in the distance. If you look reeeeeal close down on the talus slope way down below Jim, you can make out the switchbacks. It was a cool experience, and one of my favorite passes to cross. But you hafta remember, the entire JMT is my favorite section. There was a wind-whipped fire off in the distance creating the haze. It was a lightning-caused fire, so it's all natural. A squirrel tried to jump off the upper switchbacks and land on Jim's head, but he has an anti-squirrel early warning system now. Jim learns from past mistakes.
Looking back at Forester pass after our descent. Where is the