Mile: 7 miles on the JMT alternate plus PCT 923 to 927
up/down: 2800/1500 feet
New trip bird: Pine Grosbeak singing above our tent in the morning.
Yesterday was cool and breezy, but nothing like today. We woke to a stiff wind and sub freezing temperature. The wind never let up and the high was in the low 40s. Brrrr...
Leaving the inlet of Shadow Lake we followed Shadow Creek upstream for a while before climbing a ridge and descending to Garnet Lake. This is where the most ferocious wind of he day met us. There were whitecaps on the lake and brutal gusts at the outlet end where the wind funnels and drops off a very steep slope. While we've never seen it like this here, and we've been here many times, it must happen often enough that the bridge builder put a hand rail on the downwind side. We needed it.
Then it was up and over a couple more ridges, past lovely Ruby and Emerald Lakes, and on to my favorite lake and view in all the Sierra - the outlet of Thousand Island Lake looking up at the incomparable Banner Peak and Mount Ritter. It just doesn't get better if you ask me (of course today wasn't the best conditions for my favorite place).
We found a spot behind a few scrawny whitebark trees for lunch then pushed on to Island Pass. This is the easiest of passes, and along with the upcoming Donohue Pass are the only true Sierra crest passes since way back at Cottonwood and Trail Passes many hundreds of miles ago. All the big passes we have been doing divide major river drainages, but are all on the west side of the crest (all rivers go to the Central Valley). But once over Island Pass you are on the east side and the water goes to the Great Basin, specifically Mono Lake. When we clear Donohue Pass tomorrow morning we will be back on the west side. Speaking of Donohue, we decided not to finish the ascent in the very cold and windy conditions this afternoon. We pulled up a couple miles short and jumped in the tent before we got any colder. Hopefully the weather improves overnight, we have a date with a car ride tomorrow afternoon in Tuolumne Meadows only 16 miles ahead.