August 26, 2014. 10 miles
shorty’s cabin 9,000 feet to JMT junction via Lake South America (11,945 feet) 10 miles
It was another exquisite day of hiking as I continued my way UP the Kern drainage. Two younger hikers blew past me, barely uttering a hello, as if I were standing still.
I noticed big paw prints in the sand along the trail. Don’t think they are bear..maybe some kind of cat? Anyone know?
The trail worked it’s way up over and around granite slabs taking me to the top of the Kern plateau, surrounded by an amphitheater of peaks. I of course took out the map and identified the peaks. “Ah, that’s the back side of Jordan peak..so Lake Reflection is on the other side….”
I continued my way up to Lake South America on a trail that often disappeared and then reappeared. Several times I have to back track, reorient myself and continue. I followed the rock cairns like a treasure hunt.
I passed deep turquoise tarns surrounded by wind blown white bark pines. So much beauty around me it’s hard to discern where to look. Lake South America sits in a cirque and is stunning in a desolate way.
On my way down I meet my first female solo hiker. We chat and laugh and I immediately feel this is someone I could hike with. She is doing the JMT and had an extra day to explore this basin. I tell her where I’m thinking of camping and let her know she is welcome to join me if she decides Lake South America is too desolate. Suddenly I notice I have a skip in my step…..huh interesting. I get about a half mile down the trail and find an empty power bar wrapper and a pair of sunglasses. They must belong to her as no one else is on this trail. I add the wrapper to my interesting trash and leave the sunglasses and a note with my contact info on the sign at the trail junction.
I do something amazing tonight… I wash my hands with warm water and soap.
I am camped in an amazing spot with a 360 degree view. I can see the great western divide in on direction, forester pass and Tyndall creek drainage in another. I watch the sun set, the Alpen glow and eventually the stars. The night sky is amazing and bright.