September 5th & 6th, 2017
As a last backpacking trip for the year my friend Jennifer (trail name: Grey Gardens) invited me to finish up the JMT with her, from Onion Valley to Mt. Whitney. She had done most of the trail last year with her mom but they had to exit at Onion Valley and she wanted to finish it up this year. I of course jumped at the chance to go since I have been obsessing over the JMT for years and am hoping to do the whole trail in the next year or two.
We got permits to start on September 6th and we headed up on the 5th to stay at Onion Valley Campground so we could get an early start the next morning. The campground is great and we got to BBQ some veggies and sausage for dinner since Grey Gardens friend came up with us and would be driving her car back the bay area so we could bring extra things like BBQ supplies!
September 6th, 2017
Fauna seen: 3 Pikas, 5 deer, 1 marmot, 1 Coopers Hawk, Grey Mocking birds, chipmunks, grey squirrels, 1 black bear
I slept pretty well and we we were up early and on the trail by 6:30am. The sunrise was great and I was already enjoying the amazing scenery on the way up to Kearsarge Pass.
We got up to Kearsarge Pass at 9:30am, it is quite the uphill slog, especially when you have 6 days of food in your bear can and are going from around 9,000ft to over 11,000ft! We enjoyed the views for a while, eating some snacks and then headed down into the lake filled valley.
We took the beautiful lower route and passed several lakes on the way in. We had lunch at Bullfrog Lake around 11am (no camping allowed) and it is wicked pretty! The skies quickly greyed over and we heard a little rumble of thunder so did not linger very long, as we wanted to get to camp and hopefully stay moderately dry. We cruised by a few more lakes on the way up to the JMT junction and the sprinkles started. We debated getting out our ponchos for a while since it was not really raining yet but soon there was no need to debate as the rain started to pelt us. The views were amazing though and my Frogg Toggs poncho is awesome so it was still a very pleasant hike.
We meandered down some switch backs into the next valley that held our campsite for the night at Lower Vidette Meadow. We got a great little site near the meadow around 12:30pm and luckily enjoyed a break in the rain to set up our tents and eat dinner. As we sat eating our dinners around 5pm a young black bear wandered into the meadow a few hundred yards from us and then skirted back into the trees after a few minutes. We did not see it appear again and were careful to stow all our food and smelly stuff in our bear cans away from our tents. The rain started again after dinner and we got in our tents for the night. I watched 2 deer out of my tent door for a long time grazing around the meadow and all too soon my eyes grew heavy and I was out for the night.