Day 8 of 40

back in 2016, I backpacked over 200 miles, over 40 days, on the Sierra High Route. This particular section of the route was south of the High Route, before it began, and loosely followed the Pacific Crest Trail. Day 7 This morning one of the through hikers from last night offered me some extra food, and I gladly excepted. I got a big bag of ramen noodles, some packets of tuna, a few cans of chicken, and a few bars. His name was Liam, and we were both headed north on the PCT/JMT so we hiked together for a few miles, he was going to try to make Rae Lakes, about 22 miles away. My goal was Wright Lakes out on the Bighorn Plateau, about 6 miles away. Once we reached what looked like a good cross country route across the plateau we said goodbye and went our separate ways. The Bighorn Plateau is vast, open and relatively flat, covered in rolling grasslands dotted with marshes, small lakes and ringed with towering peaks. Tawny Point (12320) to my northwest; Mt. Tyndall (14034) to the north; Mt. Versteeg (13470) to the northeast; Mt. Barnard (13990) to the east; and far off to the west beyond Kern Canyon and Kern Ridge rises The Great Western Divide and Kaweah Peaks Ridge which tops out at 13802 ft at the summit of Mt. Kaweah. As I made my way through the grassland I ended up disturbing a herd of deer that galloped away from me as I approached, this is the first significant wildlife I've seen on this journey. I reached the largest of the Wright Lakes and dropped pack there. It was hot, and there was no shade except for a stand of pine trees a ways off to my east so I decided to head over to them. This is the first time while I have been backpacking solo that I have felt lonely and longed for human contact, which is weird because I love being out in places like this, miles away from people, so utterly alone, and now for the first time I want people. Don't get me wrong, I like backpacking with friends and other people because you have some else to share the experience with, but there are also times when I greatly enjoy going out into the wilderness alone. I don't like the photo opportunities here and I am wanting people, so I have decided to continue onto the bear box that my map shows near a lake, not far from the Tyndall Creek ranger station. There should be people there and hopefully better pictures. So I walked back to the PCT/JMT. I followed Wright Creek in, but I'm going straight across a large hill on the southern slope of Tawny Point to get out, that should cut off a few miles. Soon I reached the Tyndall Creek campground and people. The campground lies along the western shore of a lake. I'm going to stay here tonight. Clouds began to build as the afternoon drew on, the talus slope on the far side of the lake was an ever shifting canvas of light and painted shadows as the clouds morphed and swirled into fantastic shapes high above. There was a good sized meadow of tall sedge grass on the southern shore where a mother deer and two young fawns grazed. My map shows that this is a chain of lakes that trails off to the north. I decided to wander uphill to them to see what kind of compositions I could find there but when I reached them they were nothing more than muddy puddles scattered with rocks. Though I did get an ok shot of a crumbling tree stump. After exploring I went back to my campsite for a dinner of ramen and jalapeno tuna that Liam had given me earlier. While that was rehydrating I set up my tent up because the mosquitoes had begun coming out. By the time my dinner was ready to eat the alpine glow had appeared, so I hurried down to the marshy lake shore with my gear and found the best composition I could find. I photographed sunset with a cup of ramen and tuna soup in one hand and camera in the other. All the stomping around I did caused a swarm of mosquitoes to awaken and swarm around me. With both hands occupied I needed a third hand to swat at all the little blood suckers. I'm so glad I set my tent up. Day 8 I got a late start today. I slept in too, I didn't get out of my sleeping bag until sun touch. (Sunrise is when the peaks glow pink in the alpine glow, or when the the sun rises above the horizon in a flat area, but in the mountains you might not see the sun until a few hours after it has risen because the mountains block it. So I'm making up a new term, "suntouch". Suntouch is when the sun finally rises high enough to crest the mountain peaks and the warmth of it's rays touch you and cast light upon you.) By the time I finally got out of my sleeping bag and took down my tent everyone had already left, which was no big deal, I was feeling like my normal non-lonely self again. I boiled water and rehydrated my breakfast while watching the chipmunks running around looking for food and protecting their territory. Breakfast this morning is Pad Thai, one of my favorites and highest calorie meals that I have with me. The best part is the two packets of peanut butter that it comes with. I spent the next few hours sitting quietly watching the chipmunks and enjoying the symphony of birds and the whispering wind in the pines. (I also took a few more photos of the grassy lake shore. I like these images better than last nights attempts. The mosquitoes are nowhere to be seen now that the sun is up.) (this is the above photo) Finally I forced myself to get up and continue on to the unnamed lake beneath Forester Pass. I was supposed to go to Lake South America today, but that was before I decided to changed my route. The hike today is all uphill, I started at around 11000 ft and the lake is at around 12340 ft. Even though I started late I got to my destination with plenty of daylight to spare. There are no trees here, so no shade again, except for a large rock. I took a nice nap huddled in the small amount of shade the rock provided. The clouds have been building the last few days, and today they are enormous. We might get rain today, if not today, hopefully tomorrow. I can see Forester Pass from here. The backpackers on the top of the pass are tiny little specks, just barely visible. I heard many shouts of joy and relief as they summited. Tomorrow that will be me up there on top of the highest pass on my route and on the PCT. As sunset drew nearer the temperature began to drop and the eastern slope of Junction Peak (13888 ft) glowed golden in the setting sun and a thin ribbon of light snaked it's way along the westward facing cliffs of Diamond Mesa, of which the unnamed lake I am staying at is nestled below. As Junction peak glowed, wisps of wind played upon the surface of the lake causing the reflected light to dance and shimmer upon the disturbed surface, as though the wind where a painter, the light were her paint and the lake her canvas. As soon as the thin ribbon of light disappeared the moon rose above the Mesa. Had the timing of that been a little sooner it would have made for another beautiful photo. I made tea, ate a cliff bar, layered up and crawled into my sleeping bag for a long cold night. There are no mosquitoes, so I will be sleeping under the star filled Sierra sky tonight. (the new belt has so far been helping and I haven't been getting chafing on my hip any more. Also, I am so tired of this trail mix, it's too sweet. The next trail mix I'm getting is going to be spicy!)