Take a Trek

Day 16: Debauchery on Forester

Bullfrog Lake Trail to Tyndall Frog Ponds
Day: 14.6 Miles
Trip: 208.4 Miles

This afternoon, I’ll be clearing my fifth pass in as many days. It’s a feat that should leave me feeling as badass as I am hungry. From my camp near the intersection for Bullfrog Lake Trail to the crest of Forester pass, I’ll be hiking eight miles and gaining 4000 feet in elevation. Statistics like this, that would normally be too tiring to think about, don’t matter though, because I’m going to be crossing the seventh and final major pass on the JMT. From the ridgeline of Forester, I’ll be within sight of Mount Whitney, the end of my journey.

Forester Pass

Approaching Forester Pass

I’ve been told that Forester is the biggest and most challenging pass that the JMT has to offer. A few days ago, I passed a northbound PCT hiker who was more than happy to explain his joy for being done with Forester. “Oh man, that thing was a real ass-kicker. You’re going to get it even worse though, because you’re going south over the top. I was thinking about how much that would suck on the way down.” It was quite an inspirational speech. I honestly don’t mind the climb though; Snarly and I had a double dose of vitamin I with breakfast, and 200 miles of backpacking through the Sierra Nevada has turned my body into a solid hiking machine.


Closing in on Forester Pass

By the time I reach the top of Forester Pass, I’ve begun to have a little party inside of my head. I’ve officially climbed every mountain pass on the John Muir Trail, without getting eaten by a mountain lion, vaporized by lightening, or buried by an earthquake-induced rockslide. Before leaving my imaginary party, I do a couple keg stands, take a long shower, and eat three large pizzas. In reality, I shout a couple obscenities, ration myself six almonds, and convince a hesitant section-hiker to take a photo of me enjoying my moment of well-earned insanity.


Debauchery on Forester Pass

All great things must come to an end, as is the case with my with display of debauchery on Forester Pass. With an absurd sense of accomplishment, I descend the ridge and walk another five miles to Tyndall Frog Ponds. I’ve managed over 6,000 feet of craggy elevation change today, but my brain is drunk on adrenaline and asking for more. If it weren’t for the incessant nagging of my stomach, it would be difficult to stop hiking at the end of a day like today. Hesitantly, I remove my pack and begin sifting through the few provisions that remain in my bear canister.

I’m in the vicinity of two other hikers this evening, Josh and his friend Mike, both from the San Diego area. When he and his friend summit Mount Whitney, two or three days from now, Josh will be done with a section hike of the JMT that he’s been working on for several years. Not only will Josh have hiked all 211 miles of the infamous John Muir Trail, but he’ll have done so with ten or fifteen pounds of professional photography equipment. His online portfolio is outstanding. Looking at it sends shivers down my spine and into my nether regions. I’ll add this talented individual to the growing list of intriguing people that I’ve met on the John Muir Trail.

Josh at Tyndall Frogs Pond

Josh at Tyndall Frogs Pond