August 15: south of Bullfrog Lake Junction to Crabtree Junction
I took the tent down and loaded the pack by flashlight as I knew this would be a long day. The climb to Forester Pass was initially very gradual, but became switchbacks above the tree line. This was the highest pass to this point at 13,200 feet and my favorite pass of the trip. The view from both sides was great and I took many pictures. At the top were three of the people who I had shared the hiker's tent cabin with at Vermilion. It was nice to see them again. They had not taken the stop at Muir Trail Ranch, so they were a day ahead of me for a while. I considered hiking the rest of the way with them, but decided to keep my own pace which would allow me to get home two days early. There is no bus service from Lone Pine to Reno on Wednesdays, so finishing one day early would leave me stuck in Lone Pine for an extra day. The descent from the pass was unbelievable. The trail was carved into a near vertical rock face and had very long switchbacks for the first part of the descent. The trail from the switchbacks to Crabtree was not very interesting. I cooked what was to be a dinner for lunch along the trail as I was now almost certain I would be two days early. I arrived at Crabtree and set up camp. I could have easily continued hiking to Guitar Lake, but wanted to avoid that crowded campsite. After cooking dinner, I left the stove lit to burn the remaining fuel. I had been concerned about not having enough, but it burned for an hour. I lost my flashlight and spent 15 minutes searching for it using the display of my camera as a light source before finding it.
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