The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 23 July 2012

PCT In Photos: Week 4

Week 4 already! Didn’t it go fast?

Contrary to appearances, this isn’t an old woman walking the trail. It’s a young chap going by the name of Bolt. As he approached we were talking to his hiking partner Navi and she explained that having been forced into women’s clothing due to the lack of gent’s laundry-loaner-clothes in Kennedy Meadows, Bolt had discovered that he rather liked the airiness and comfort of a skirt and decided to adopt the apparel for walking too!

We were on the junction of the Bullfrog Lake Trail and the Kearsarge Trail (so not on the PCT at all) at the time, on our way back to the trail having resupplied in Independence. In the PCT Handbook, someone makes the comment that some of the best photos they took were on those trails and I would agree that it was a very picturesque detour. This photo was taken shortly before we rejoined the PCT.
Soon after rejoining the PCT, up and over Glen Pass we went. This is one of the best illustrations I’ve got of switch-backs leading up to a pass (if you can make them out), although the sense of the steepness of the hillside up which the path zig-zags is lacking.
Coming down Glen Pass was the most significant snow we encountered on the whole trip (as I’ve mentioned, we were incredibly lucky, as usually most of the Sierra section would be like this 20 yard stretch). There was one other place where there was a patch about the same size, but this one wins the award due to the gradient it was on. Fortunately, it was late enough in the morning for it to have softened up a bit and we could stamp firm footings into it.
We met quite a few people heading north up Glen Pass as we headed down. Most of them were walking the Rae Lakes Loop and more than one person enthused about the beauty of Rae Lakes, saying that we would want to spend at least a night there. It was, undeniably, very pretty down there, but not remarkably more so than all of the other fantastic scenery we were seeing, and we didn’t feel any compulsion to cut our day short to stay there.
The view we had from the tent that night was hardly shoddy anyway:
(only on three nights did the wind require us to have the sides of the tent down; this was how we usually pitched it, allowing us to enjoy the night-time views too)
That pitch was a matter of yards away from this bridge. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It was quite a long, wobbly bridge. The sign on the right-hand upright instructs ‘one person at a time’, but even without that notice I think that on this occasion Mick would have refrained from making it bounce as I crossed. (Louise, I don’t think you’d have liked this bridge!)
Playing the daily game of ‘guess the location of the pass’ as we headed up to Pinchot Pass we were both brought to a stand-still when these hills came into view. Until now all of the hills had been decomposing granite and of varying shades of grey (mainly very light grey), so suddenly seeing a big patch of red (and there were a few red hills in this area) was enough to make us stop and admire.
It’s funny how a woman with a full-sized deckchair on her pack, slogging up a high pass, sticks in your mind. The question “Did you meet the woman with the deckchair?” as asked by quite a few people we met over the course of the rest of the walk. Admittedly, I was carrying a seat which weighed more, but my seat also doubled as a bear canister (or maybe it was the other way around?)
Heading towards ‘the Golden Staircase’, of which we had never heard mention until that morning, the rocks were nice and stripy:
Having lost lots of altitude by going down the said Golden Staircase (which isn’t a staircase and is hardly golden!), we had to regain every single foot of that descent. Without checking, I think it was the biggest single descent/ascent of the trip, with the trail dipping 4000’ between the 12000’ Mather and Muir Passes. Atop Muir Pass we found lots of marmots (look, there’s one on the right!) and a very sturdy hut, which has apparently stood there since the early 1930s.
I don’t feel like we’ve had enough water photos in this batch, so here are some of the many gorgeous lakes we passed on Days 26 and 27.
We must be due a river-crossing photo too. All of the water crossings were exceptionally benign this year, all but two of them being crossable without getting the feet wet, although few of them had quite such organised stepping stones as this one.


Click here for ‘PCT in Photos: Week 5’


  1. Gayle, a funny thing, but I think you might be right about that bridge! Love the deck chair, what an excellent idea.

  2. Wot?
    No Bogs?
    Lovely pictures (sorry for lack of comments - I *have* been following the entire trip)

  3. OK - yes, I'm REALLY jealous.......!!

  4. Louise - So if I spot someone ahead of me in Scotland next May, whose pack is obscured by a full-sized deckchair, I'll know that it's you!

    Jamie - It was, rather! :-)

    Alan - You know, funnily enough, bogs weren't something that we missed!

  5. Laura - sorry! Although, in fairness, I'm often jealous of your pictures in France, when I'm tramping around my local (incredibly flat and quite dull) fields.

  6. Ah, so you'll be applying (too) then. I have route plans!!

  7. We will certainly be applying. I wouldn't say that we have route plans yet (we'll not decide on a start point until we've got a place), but I do have one plotted route sitting in reserve...

  8. Those mountains are looking good to say the least. A lovely set of photos.