Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 55: Glen Pass to Pinchot Pass

In the morning, we retraced our steps, then climbed the remaining switchbacks to the top of the pass. Often when I've climbed Glen Pass (11,978 ft) smoke from nearby forest fires has marred the view. This time the sky was a clear deep blue, and we could see the rock bound emerald lakes just below the pass, the sapphire Rae Lakes, the thumb-like Finn Dome, and the surrounding mountains.

We descended into Rae Lakes slowly, crossing several steep, icy snow patches. The Rae Lakes (10,550 ft) were clear and still, deep emerald in some places, a rich blue in others. Large trout moved slowly through the water. The lakes were surrounded by a soft, green carpet, and shooting stars and other wildflowers dotted the meadows.

We descended to Woods Creek (8,492 ft), passing the 800 mile marker and crossing the suspension bridge.  Sierra swayed the bridge as much as possible with each bouncy step. We then began the long, steep climb to Pinchot Pass (12,130 ft).

Initially our route followed the river. Water cascaded over the smooth, polished granite into deep emerald pools, a sort of high-powered, natural waterslide, courtesy of Mother Nature. With the abundant water from the river and several seasonal side streams, ravenous swarms of mosquitoes were everywhere.

Above the river the land was drier.  Many of the seasonal streams already dried up for the season. We made camp in a stand of pines overlooking a swampy lakelet. Although we had planned to get water from the inlet, it was already dry, little more than a swampy seep, dampening the grassy meadow surrounding the lake. The lake, with its swarms of mosquitoes on the surface of the water, didn't appeal either, so we made dinner with some of our remaining water, hoping to reach more substantial streams early tomorrow morning.

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