Marie Lake, Near Donohue Pass.


Day 04 of JMT Revisited (June 26, 2004)

What a great day! Amazing recovery! This morning we were late in getting up. About 8:30 we decided to eat breakfast at the grill. The idea of egg burritos sounded too good.

Boy was I not feeling good when we woke up. Nauseated. Close to throwing up, real close! This lasted until after breakfast. But even so, breakfast was real good. Most of us got the “combo,” which was scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a biscuit. Then we brought fruit. Very satisfying. Then we bought more stuff at the store: toilet paper and batteries. Finally, we started hiking at 10:00am. Fast pace, probably 3 miles/hour. I am not sure because my map and trail signs say different things. The map says 5.7 miles and the signs say 7.1 miles.

Anyway, we took a 20-minute break, then hiked till 1:30 pm and had lunch. I am always amazed at how good eating on the trail is. We had tuna and crackers. Also beef jerky, the pepper kind – I like that the best so far. After lunch it was clear that we were going to get a storm. We decided to start up the trail to Donohue Pass. After 5 minutes, it started raining hard enough to cause us to put on our ponchos. We reached the first plateau and waited out the storm in Elliot’s tent. It was wet and cold. My clothes were already completely wet from sweat. Ken made us play cards. That was a great idea. We had sat up the tent on mud – no fun. I was shivering uncontrollable the whole time in the tent.

After about 1.5 hours rain seemed to stop but we still heard thunder. We hiked up to the lake below Donohue. We are now at 10,240 feet. Donohue Pass is at 11,056 so we only have about 800 to go in the morning. I think we are about 1 mile from Donohue, and if so, we did about 11 miles today.

After we picked a camp spot, Ken and I did dinner while everyone else fished. We wanted a lot of fish, so that we could try a new way of cooking them. Tim had talked to a PCTer at Tuolumne who told him how to cook small fish without all the mess.

Dinner was fantastic. The REI meals, chicken tortillas and desert are great.

(It is getting real cold in this tent, so it is hard to write.)

After the REI meals, we cooked the fish according to the PCTer instructions. It took three tries to get it right – but then it worked perfectly. Basically, you build a stack of rocks in a cone shape. The cone should be about 9” high, and about 2 inches for the inside diameter. At the bottom, you make an opening in the rocks for an air intake. This setup makes a furnace. You build a small fire out of twigs at the bottom of the furnace. Then, you skewer the fish with a tent stake through its head. You must clean the fish by removing its entrails, of course, but there is no need to skin or flay the fish. Use the tent stake to hold the fish vertically in the furnace. The heat will travel up vertically in the furnace and cook the fish. The fish’s blood will cook in the tail first, and then the blood is forced into the head as the fish cooks. You will know when the fish is done cooking because its eyes turn white and pop out. At this point, the fish is perfectly cooked, and the head and bones will come off and out easily. You can eat everything else, skin and meat.

This technique is amazing because no tools or cookware needs to get dirty to cook the fish – only a tent stake or some other small metal rod. And only a very small fire is needed per fish. And it works for very small fish – from 4 to 9 inches.

((One modification that we learned later on, was to use the aluminum windbreak from our stove as the top of the cone – to complete the furnace. Just roll it up into a 2 inched cone, and place it in the stones that make the bottom part of the furnace.))

I was slightly sick when we got to camp – but after dinner I felt good. I am starting to really have fun! Good night – too cold to write anymore.

PS: one last thing: A joke that Tim made up in the tent while we were waiting for the rain to go away:
“Knock, Knock”
“Who's there?”
“Bear”
“Bear Who?”
“Bear 19.”

For some reason, this was hilarious.