John Muir Trail Day 22: Mama Bear + Forester Pass

Monday, 9/13  9:07 AM  DAY 22  0 miles  📍 Vidette Meadow 

Journal entry: Slow morning today. Did some camp chores, had oatmeal for breakfast, re-organized my food, did some laundry, washed some dishes. Yeah- kinda sounds like a Monday huh? Lol! Having a hard time staying asleep the past few nights. Really think it’s this blow-up pad and pillow. It’s like 7.8 miles to the top of Forester Pass and I’m just taking it easy today. Going for 6ish miles to a lake under Forester then tackle it in the AM. I have more than enough food now, but still trying not to use my phone too much. Garmin goes on in the late afternoon for about an hr, then not again until bedtime/dinner. Stiiizy is running low + so is Fireball! Lol! Ah, Ness priorities! I really want to look into becoming a ranger but I think I’m too old. ☹ Imagine getting paid for this?! Sam said his job is like customer service, I see that. But I also see where he’s working. LOL!

Still Monday, 9/13 6:56PM DAY 22   10.79 miles  📍 Sequoia National Park 

Journal entry #2: Don’t know exactly where I’m camped tonight, but it sure is pretty. Officially in Sequoia N.P now after climbing Forester Pass! I know, it was supposed to be a short day, but I couldn’t help it. Even w/ a late start, I was up and over Forester at 4:20 PM LOL. The highest point on the PCT, and yet I had it all to myself. Feeling really crampy this evening, really hoping it’s not my period. I’m hearing that mountain frequency again. I’m telling ya, I’m sure not everyone can hear this. I wouldn’t know exactly, cause there’s no one else here! 2 NOBO hikers today, as I started Forester Pass, not really sure where they were headed though. My guess- Rae lakes. Sunset was awesome. This site is pretty special! Too close to the trail, but since no one else is here….gotta look over the mileage and see what’s up. Friday/Thursday summit looking promising! Cramps pls go away. First time I took ibprophben on this trip.

Story: Day 22, and I miss my bed. Only took 22 days, but I’m pretty sure my sleeping pad and my blow-up pillow rubbing against each other are making it very difficult to fall asleep. It’s a slow morning today. After hiking in a little late last night, I knew I would be hanging around camp this morning. I have some laundry and dishes I can do near the creek and only 7ish miles to the top of Forester! I don’t plan on tackling Forester today, so I’ll have a lot of downtime to just hang out and take my time, but so far- looking at being a day ahead of schedule and possibly a Mount Whitney summit on Thursday!

After a little breakfast, I was waiting for my laundry to dry. I made the mistake of washing both pairs of socks at the same time, now having to wait for at least one pair to dry. I don’t remember exactly what I was doing at the time, but I was near camp when I saw a bear headed towards my campsite.

A freakin’ bear! I was by myself that morning like I was every morning for the past 2.5 weeks- so I knew there was no one else around. Thank goodness I ran into Ranger Sam a few days prior. He had mentioned an active bear in the area and told me exactly what I needed to do in case I came across it. Ranger Sam that day told me to make noise, be big, throw my arms in the air, and charge. LOL. Ok, Ranger Sam. I’m pretty sure a bear is not going to run away from me. It was the moment of truth- I was either going to scare off this bear, or I was going to be someone’s lunch that afternoon.

I stood up, threw my hands up in the air, charged just enough to make some distance, and very loudly went: “RAWR!” 😂 The bear looked right at me and walked away. I was terrified that it was going to turn around and charge after me, but it continued to walk away. Noticing the size of this bear, I imagined the mama bear to be close by so I quickly started to pack up camp. Maybe not even 5 minutes later, I saw another bear- but this time, I knew for a fact that this was a baby bear. Guys- I scared off mama bear! And I couldn’t have felt more badass at that moment.

It was close to noon when I finally packed up camp and got back on the trail. I was feeling brave, and a little hungry. It actually didn’t take me very long to make it to the area I had planned to camp at before Forester Pass, so I decided to stop there for a long lunch and figure out if I felt safe enough to hike Forester Pass later that afternoon. From what I’ve heard from other thru-hikers, Forester Pass can be very dangerous in the early season when the trail is still covered in snow, after all -it is the highest point on the Pacific Crest Trail!

I decided that I couldn’t wait around for the perfect time to hike Forester Pass, so I went for it. Later that afternoon, I’d say around 2 PM when I started the climb. I was surprised to have run into 2 NOBO hikers, I believe headed to Vidette Meadow that evening. The climb up Forester Pass was not difficult at all, but it definitely felt very long. Using the same method as far as not checking my GPS to see how much further of a climb I had left really helped my spirits. It was 4:20 PM when I reached the top of the pass. I could see Sequoia National Park from the other side. Not that it looked any different from Kings Canyon from up above, let’s be honest.

Want to know what I was doing at the top of Forester Pass at 4:20 PM? Probably not what you think. I was deleting apps and over 1,700 photos from my phone to be able to record my accomplishment at the top of Forester Pass. LOL. Ah well, memory caught on video and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. Last pass on the JMT before hiking Mount Whitney.

Hiking down felt amazing. I was high on life, and so grateful for this journey. I had no idea where I would be camping that night, but it didn’t matter. I wanted to cry, but I think I was a little dehydrated. Making my way all the way down, I had hoped to camp in the trees and not so exposed- until I came across this site pretty close to the trail, with an awesome lake view. After just having filtered nearly 3 liters of water, I dropped my pack and set up camp. Views of Forester Pass in the distance as the sun started to set. It was one of my favorite evenings on the JMT, as well as one of my favorite campsites.

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