Day 9 - August 19th
Two big climbs today: Mather Pass (12,100ft) and 10 miles later at Pinchot Pass (12,050ft). We stayed above 10,000ft much of our hike today. The reason why we camped at Palisade Lakes so that we will have a fresh legs to climb Mather Pass early in the morning. I usually wore my short when i started hiking early in the morning. I was not sure why but this morning my left leg felt very discomfort and it started to bother me as i climbed toward Mather Pass. I haven't experienced this way for the past 8 days and i was afraid if it continued this way i might not be able to go on. I took two ibuprofen as a precaution. Cyndi said maybe it was the cold weather and i should wear long pants until I warmed up. She was right! Once i felt the morning sun, the discomfort of my left leg went away and I enjoyed the climb toward Mather Pass. Blowing our whistle (6th time) was in order. The view from Mather Pass was fantastic. Nothing beat the view at the top! Above 12,000 ft trees could not grow such high altitude but what you would enjoy the lakes and moon like landscape. As much as we enjoyed 2,000ft descend for the next 7 miles, we knew we will have to ascend 2,000ft again with shorter distance of 3 miles. Hikers on JMT tend to tackle one mountain pass per day so most of hikers would stay at Lake Marjorie before ascending to Pinchot Pass next day. We pressed on since we would like to put in at least 15 miles per day. This plan will pay off toward the end of our trip. I personally enjoyed the view from Pinchot pass. The blue sky with the little of cloud and sun shining to this vast land created such a spectacular view. You felt a sense of accomplishment to be able to enjoy in person. Of course we were able to use our whistle (7th time), second time today. I thought it was a little silly but the fun part of looking forward to have a chance to blow the whistle at each moutain passes. This particularly gave me the motivation and eagerness to ascend to the mountain top.
From this point on, we enjoyed the descend about 4 miles and looked for a good campground. We were very pleased with all campgrounds that we stayed. A safe, private campground could add another fantastic experience to our hiking trip. I felt like i was in the mission of continuing to find excellent campground. As I arrived first and while waiting for Cyndi, i had to doublecheck my hiking app "Guthook", national Geographic map because I did not see water source surrounding the campsite. Water near campground was very important to us. We took bath, did our laundry and cooked Dinner etc.. each night. I was nervous but I had no doubt the water stream must be somewhere nearby. Once I saw Cyndi, i told her to watch my backpack and walked down toward the campground below and started bushwhacking further beyond the campground. Lo and behold, the beautiful waterfall and the late afternoon sun reflection was hidden behind these bushes. There were also a campsite fitting perfectly for two tents. This was the most hidden secret campsite we found on the JMT. I gave Cyndi two thumbs up and felt so rewarding after the long hike. We scored again! I questioned myself when our luck would run out but let's hope this trend would continue. I personally felt that someone watching over us and wanted us to succeed all the way. We camped at mile 166 of JMT.