Sunday, July 30, 2000

The trail begins at the beginning. The true begining of the John Muir Trail is at the top of Mount Whitney. We would have begun there. But the place has become rather popular. In fact, "popular" is an understatement. In order to get a permit for the "Whitney Zone" one must win a lottery-style drawing. We tried for five different dates. We got none of them. So we opted to start about fifteen miles south of Whitney and take the New Army Pass route. It's a far less severe entry point, and we've always wanted to know what was on the other side of New Army Pass. Besides, we've been to the top of Whitney several times. We're not gonna pull out any hair if we miss it this time.

JMT 2000 begins. Or JMT2K as the acronymically inclined might say. I've just arrived at the Lakes. Not Cottonwood, but Long Lake, I think it's called. The sun scoots across the landscape only occasionally, and in small, smoky patches. There's a fire near Kennedy Meadows and it's pretty much painting everything a brown, ruddy color. To the east, the skies are crystal clear. Owens Valley is no doubt baking beneath its dusting of ash. Mom will be along shortly. I wanted to forge ahead (as always) and set down my pack, which, for the record, weighs about 50 lbs including water. That's actually pretty light for me, but that's mainly because I'm not carrying wine this time...

Chris at Trailhead

Chris at Trailhead

Will at Trailhead

Will at Trailhead

Looking Cool at the Trailhead

Ready to go!

Will digs in his pack

Re-organizing at the lowest Cottonwood Lake

North Face ad

Campsite at Long Lake

Writing in the journal

Chris works on her journal

We have the northernmost campsite and some privacy on 3 sides. It was not a bad hike, but I was low on energy cresting the ridge to Cottonwood Lakes. We arrived about 2 pm and hung out while a German couple vacated this spot. I'm ready for fajitas! I had NO back pain at all or problem with altitude. It was nice to get the pack and boots off, though. I saw 1 marmot, 2 crows and 1 or more gray jays -- they pecked at everything.