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Jennie Lake

Day 3 of 3

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Tuesday, July 4th
Jennie Lake to Fox Meadow Trailhead
5.2 miles
490 vertical feet (ascent)
1600 vertical feet (descent)

I woke up and I still had a slight headache I'd had the previous night. I was somewhat surprised. I assumed it was altitude-induced, but I thought I'd be acclimatized by now. I checked my blood oxygen saturation, and it was 87%. Virtually unchanged since the time I got to the lake. I didn't know what to make of it. In any case, I figured we'd be heading back down today, so it wouldn't be a problem. Still, it occurred to me that this was the highest point I'd ever slept at. The lake is set at 9012 feet, higher than Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite, my previous sleeping high point.

Peak reflecting the water as seen from the outlet cove

After breakfast we broke camp. It was clear that we'd have a lot of extra food to take back, but there wasn't much we could do about it now. I believe we would have eaten more if we'd actually backpacked all three days. Instead, the "off" day meant more stuff to carry back on the last day. Still, with less fuel and food, my pack was definitely lighter.

We were ready to go at about 10:15am. We said good bye to the beautiful lake and promised to return some day. We headed back the way we came. It seemed so much different in reverse. Views of forested mountains opened up in front of us and to the right. I hadn't noticed them before when they were behind us and to the left on the way in. We hiked on barren rock under a bright sun, climbing slightly until we encountered the steep ascent (which was a steep descent before) up to Poop Out Pass. It was tough going, but short, and we soon found ourselves up and over the pass.

Contrary to the hike in, we hardly saw anyone on the hike out. The entire hike we saw two day hikers and two backpackers. We saw no one until I noticed a teenager with headphones coming up from behind us. I recognized him as one of the people who had been fishing at the lake with his dad. We let him pass, but he stopped at a stream shortly thereafter and we continued on.

We stopped underneath the shade of a tree to rest. From here, we could see Poop Out Pass far behind us. I pointed it out and Jean was shocked that we'd been there. As I suspected, she admitted that she would have been intimidated if I'd told her on the way in where we were headed.

Looking out at Poop Out Pass

Two day hikers passed us in the opposite direction and we wouldn't see anyone again until the fishermen caught up to us as we rested by the same trail intersection we'd stopped at on the way in. We knew we were only 20 minutes away as we enjoyed the cool stream and last bit of wilderness before heading back to civilization.

We passed by tiny fox meadow and started keeping our eyes peeled for the fallen tree on our right. Luckily, I had my wits about me as we passed a spur trail on the right. There was no fallen tree there; instead, there were branches laid out on the ground in the form of a big arrow. I looked around and spotted the fallen tree a few feet away, tossed aside. Apparently someone on the way in had decided to replace the tree with an arrow so they wouldn't get lost on the way back. It almost caused us to get lost.

The end in sight

After a few minutes we could suddenly see the car in the parking lot through the trees. And then we were done. A beautiful backpacking trip completed. There were a handful of cars left in the parking lot. We packed up and prepared ourselves for perhaps the toughest part of our journey -- the bumpy drive on the dirt road back down.

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