John Muir Trail Day 6: Pinchot Pass
August 04, 2018
After finally catching up to our friend Scott the night before at Woods Creek, we were sad to have broken camp without him the next morning. He was still feeling some symptoms of altitude sickness and had decided that mornign to leave the trail.
We continued on to Pinchot Pass, hoping for another thunderstorm-free day. Walking over the suspension bridge crossing Woods Creek was our first task of the day.
Suspension bridge over Woods Creek
I was starting to get a better feel for the theme of our days – camping around 9,000 feet only to immediately hike up towards 12,000 feet in the afternoon, with a largely downhill hike in the evening.
As the sun began to rise and get hotter, the irony of asking for clouds after having to hike in a hailstorm was not lost on us.
The hike up to Pinchot Pass was hot, and we had both nearly downed all of our water before coming up on more. I had been planning on filtering some at Twin lakes, but that was more of a downhill hike than I wanted to do for water.
Unnamed lake south of Pinchot Pass
The next option on the map was a small unnamed lake on the left of the trail. It was a tiny blue dot on the map but ended up being a beautiful water with an awesome backdrop.
Trail up to Pinchot Pass
We filled up on water and ate some lunch, then headed back up to the trail. We were greeted by our new friend Amie, and shortly after that ran into a German couple on their honeymoon.
Our dusty and dry surroundings soon turned rocky with lakes and streams at every turn. But the more elevation we gained, the more it seemed that afternoon winds were blowing in wildfire smoke from the north.
Lakes south Pinchot Pass
We hung out on top of the pass for a little while and enjoyed the views with some southbound hikers. After exchanging some stories, we headed down to Marjorie Lake.
Crystal clear lakes north of Pinchot Pass
There were a couple of lakes on the way down with beautifully clear blue waters. Lake Marjorie itself was pretty impressive, as we mutually decided to stop and take a break to enjoy the views without even discussing it.
Amie was only a few hundred feet ahead of us, waiting on her friends to descend Pinchot Pass. She wasn’t sure where sh would stay that night but we told her our plans to hike a few more miles before setting up camp.
Trail past Marjorie Lake
Hiking in the early evening became my favorite part of the day. The mountain peaks to the west changed the outlook with their shadows and the sunlight became golden.
In addition to the colors, we were now at an elevation low enough to avoid walking on the scree section of trail. From here down to camp it would mostly be dirt or grass trail with some occasional rocks.
Small Lake near Bench Lake Ranger Station
I would have loved to been able to check out Bench Lake if we had more time. Instead we walked past the Ranger Station a small lake to the right of it. From here it was nearly a 1,000 foot downhill hike to the South Fork Kings River and bottom of the valley.
South Fork Kings River
There were two short river fords to navigate before being able to set up camp. We gladly walked through to soak our feet and then pitched our tent just passed the outlet. A few minutes later we saw Amie and her friends crossing the river and they joined us for camp.