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John Muir Trail

Day 19 of 22

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Sunday, August 3rd
Center Basin Crossing to Tyndall Creek
9.4 miles
2660 vertical feet (ascent)
2140 vertical feet (descent)

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GPX File

It was another clear day when we woke in the morning. We ate breakfast while watching a baby deer run back and forth near the creek below. We said goodbye to Neil and Jon, who were hiking out over Kearsarge Pass today. They would have a long tough day today, and would end up having hiked four passes in their 4 day trip to resupply us - up and over Glen Pass and Kearsarge Pass in both directions. We truly appreciated their efforts!

Mountains to the west of our campsite

Mountains above Bubbs Creek

Bubbs Creek

We left camp at 9:40am, headed in the opposite direction, toward Forester Pass, which would be the highest point on the trip so far. It was pretty much a steady climb from the start. We passed a few hikers camped further up, but most had already left. The trail starts in the forest but very shortly breaks out of it, providing some great views of the surrounding mountains.

Looking back down Bubbs Creek valley

Today we played leap frog with a woman who had injured her foot. Her hiking companion had become injured and hiked out, but she kept going, though she was going noticeably slower than she otherwise would have. She said she had entered at Agnew Meadows and was on the same remaining schedule as we were. Today's goal was Tyndall Creek. But first, we had to get over Forester Pass.

We had second breakfast at 10:15am, then continued up into the talus above tree line. We still had nearly 2000 feet of climbing to go (we'd climb about 2600 feet from our camp to the top of the pass). We were a little surprised to see a day hiker heading toward the pass; perhaps he was camped down at Vidette Meadow. He would end up reaching the top of the pass and then turning around.

Heading up to Forester Pass

Mountains to the south

Mountains to the south

The trail makes a sharp left turn, becoming relatively flat for a while as it passes a lake. I was surprised by how many lakes there were heading up to the pass. The trail then heads back to the right and starts a series of switchbacks on fairly good trail. We took another break at 12:15pm before continuing on to the top.

Flat part of the trail

Unnamed lake

Unnamed lake

We saw a single patch of snow on the way up, perhaps the closest we came to stepping onto snow the entire trip. The climbing continued steadily; it was never very hard, just long. I did notice myself slowing down just a bit near the top, as the limited oxygen may have played a role. But soon enough we were at the top. As soon as we got to the top, we saw a lot of smoke on the other side. It pretty much blocked most of the views to the south. I'm guessing this may have been caused by the Cabin Fire in the Golden Trout Wilderness, which burned over 6500 acres and started on July 19th.


High stream

Stream flowing towards Bubbs Creek

Climbing up past the stream

Looking back down the valley

Approaching the final climb to Forester Pass


Unnamed lake near Forester Pass

Final switchbacks up to Forester Pass

Smoky haze south of Forester Pass

We were joined by about a half dozen others at the top, including the injured woman we'd seen earlier. After a break at the top, we started the descent toward the smoke. It wasn't long before we reached the scariest section of the trail on the trip. The mountain drops down steeply to the right, with the trail cut right into the side of the mountain. There's an almost sheer drop on the right. This was probably the only time on the trip we told the kids to be careful, and they descended a bit slower than usual to get past this section.

Forester Pass

Narrow descent from Forester Pass

After a few minutes, the trail becomes more "reasonable", and continues to switchback down the mountain. Eventually we reached the "bottom", the first of a series of small lakes. The smoke was still noticeable. We passed more of the lakes, and it wasn't until about 4pm that the smoke mostly cleared up. At this time we entered a beautiful pine forest, exited it, then entered another.

Haze from the fires still evident at first lake below the pass

Still hazy

Skies starting to clear as we approach the forest

Mountains to the east

Pine forest

Pine forest

Continuing the descent

We reached the Lake South America junction, then soon after that the Tyndall Creek bear box at about 5:30pm, having descended about 2100 feet from the pass. There were already several tents set up in the trees here. We backtracked slightly and found a nice site on the left side of the trail, away from the bear box.

The injured woman walked by around 6pm, then crossed the creek, probably camping just a little further (we'd find a second bear box the next day). By this time the skies were mostly clear and we had nice views of Tawny Point and the surrounding mountains. Tyndall Creek cascaded by near our camp. And we even had a little camp sunlight to enjoy today.

Tyndall Creek

Tyndall Creek

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