Marie Lake

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About a week into our trip, we camped at a beautiful lake called Marie Lake, which is on this side of Seldon Pass. When I say, "this side", I mean the direction we hiked, which was from north to south. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived and the weather was threatening so we quickly put up our tarps and cooked dinner. There was a stiff breeze and the lake water was choppy. Clouds flew by the surrounding summits, sometimes burying the peaks, other times merely getting their butts scraped in the process. As the sun set, a temporary calm overtook the basin and turned the clouds and peaks and sky brilliant colors of pink and purple and orange and red. It was amazing to behold. This is a peak on the otherside of Marie Lake which still had some mist on its shoulder that the sun turned to fire. This is looking southeast, away from the sunset. Unable to see the rising mist, it just appeared that the mountainside glowed. All three of us stood in wonderment as we watched this sunset. The colors only lasted about 7 minutes and they changed quickly in hues and tones, but I snapped away with my Velvia the whole time. The colors are real, and in actuality not nearly as stunning as what we witnessed. Anyway, I had Mountain House Lasagna for dinner that evening. My favorite.

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I love Brooks & Dunn's version of "My Maria". This has little or nothing to do with the photo, but I just wanted to say that. The peak in the above post was to the right of this photo, across the lake and out of view, but this is a few minutes later after the sun had left high peaks and was settling into the western horizon. The scan sucks (as most low-light scans suck), but it shows the neato colors of the fading sunset. That's the JMT on the left side of the photo. We hiked that. If we stepped off the trail to pee, we had to backtrack to where we stepped off to catch every step of the trail. We are purists. Not even John Muir would do that. Actually, John Muir never even hiked the JMT. What a farce. There is a movement underway to rename the trail the BFT... the Buck Forester Trail. I've already cornered the name on the highest pass. Keep yer eye out on Backpacker Magazine for more details. I had mailed back all my hot cocoa at Toulumne Meadows, so after this shot I was unable to enjoy a hot cup of chocolate. Same with my Tang®. Life on the trail can be tough. Ye are warned.

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We had to hunker down and batten down the hatches. It rained much of that night. But here we are in the evening, fighting the strong gusts. It's about as close to a hurricane as we get here in CA. You can see the wind whippin' up the lake, as well as it blowin' my tarp around. It was a wee bit chilly. But I love this schtuff! That yellow sack in the foreground is called an Ursack, which is a kevlar bear-resistant food bag. We also had the required bear canisters, but the Ursacks work great for keeping marmots and mice out of your food as well. I always tied my Ursack to a tree near me, except for one night, when I used it for a pillow. That was the one night that a bear came through camp. HELLO BUCK FORESTER! Anwyway, Marie Lake is a beautiful lake. Those peaks are actually very big, they got shrunked by my 17mm.

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Looks like there was a lull in the wind here. This is looking towards Seldon Pass, which is on the very righthand side of the photo. It was one of the easier passes, at least from this side. This is my MSR Heptawing, which was my shelter for this trek. I didn't want to carry the weight of a tent, and my Leki Super Makalus doubled as tent poles, saving me even more weight. Then I just used an OR Bug Bivy for my sleeping bag, which was a down Marmot® Pinnacle, Dry Loft® version which makes it more water resistant in case any water tried to sneak in under the tarp. I enjoy tarp life. Being under a tarp, as opposed to a tent, allows me to feel more connected to the environment. I can still see all around me and feel the breeze and the bugs and still feel like I'm outside, yet protected from rain. I lawk it alawt. I took some serious rain on this tarp on this trip, and never once did I get wet or cold.

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Jim model's the dual purposes of a bear canister... it protects food and makes a good seat. The wide-angle lens made Jim an Oompa Loompa, and he has a look that suggests I'm invading his personal space (ha ha!, he didn't really feel that way, he was probably just worried about rain and skeeters!), but I wanted to show an impromptu camp moment in the life of Jim S.® on the JMT®. That's his Integral Designs® tarp that weighs less than a butterfly, and just in case it wasn't enough, he's fully protected by a full-on Gore-Tex® Outdoor Research (OR) Advanced Bivy® sack, which is completely waterproof and state-of-the-art. It was made from technology pilfered from a secret warehouse in Roswell, NM. That's all I can say about that. Directly above Jim's tarp is Seldon Pass® (that low-point in the ridgeline), which was a very easy pass from Marie Lake. Getting to Marie Lake was actually most of the pass. Shortly after I took this photo, Dave was directly struck by lightning and a large black bear dragged Jim off into a grove of trees about a quarter mile from camp. It pissed me off because the lighting was going "magic" and I missed some good photo opps. I had to revive Dave and beat the bear off Jim, and all was well and we enjoyed a good pasta dinner before the sun set, although it needed a little salt.

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Here's a shot of Marie Lake on the far end. The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were skinny dipping here when I took this shot, but since this is a family page, I Photoshopped them out, except for the neked cheerleader swimming underwater, because you can only barely see her. GUYS, QUIT STRAINING YOUR EYES AT THE SCREEN!

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This is a shot of the JMT that runs right alongside the lake. A rather large black ant was seriously injured (unintentionally) during the making of this photo, the name being withheld pending notification of nearest relative.  I laughed when I first saw this photo, as it turned me into an Oompa Loompa. The ultra-wide angle squished squashed my legs. Or did the weight of my backpack do that?