I don’t remember much about Jennie Lakes Trail due to a severe case of mild altitude sickness, but it was a really nice trail (I think). The day did not start off well for us and only got worse for me, but the worst day out on the trails is still better than any day back in the city. The morning started off with us waking up at 2am in Los Angeles, an early morning start in an attempt to secure same-day permits for a popular trail in King’s Canyon National Park. SPOILER ALERT– Same day permits are up for grabs THE DAY BEFORE, so we didn’t end up getting one, for any trail in Kings Canyon. But we really nailed that 5 hour 2am road trip. Once informed of our determination to find picturesque fishing, the super nice Park Ranger Dude directed us to nearby Jennie Lakes Wilderness, part of Sequoia National Forest, and we were no longer incredibly disappointed.
DIRECTIONS TO TRAILHEAD: Click Here
DISTANCE: 5 miles one way from the trailhead we started at. There are many nearby trailhead locations you can start at to extend your trek, and the path continues beyond Jennie Lake if you wish to go forth into the unknown.
STARTING ELEVATION: 7,880′
ENDING ELEVATION: 9,040′
TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN: 1,160′
DIFFICULTY: Moderate. Go slow in Poop Out Pass!
ACCESS: Free to the world! No permits needed.
Jennie Lake Trail was a
2nd 3rd choice of trail that day, but it turned out to be really nice. You know, up until I got so sick and disoriented I had no idea what was going on. (FYI, This hike was the inspiration for my post about altitude sickness.) The trail to the campsite wasn’t bad. The trail gently sloped uphill so gradually you could hardly tell you were on an incline. That is, until you reach Poop Out Pass. Appropriately named, Poop Out Pass is about 1/2 mile of steep incline that we RACED up in an attempt to secure a campsite at Jennie Lake, late in the day on 4th of July weekend. Well it turns out that racing up a mountain with 40 lbs on your back at 9,000′ higher in elevation than you live after only 3 hours of sleep is a terrible idea. Also, at 3:00 in the afternoon we were the 2nd group to arrive in a camping area that easily holds over a dozen ‘packing parties.
We whipped the tent up and I managed to sling my hammock around a couple trees before collapsing into it in a deep slumber. Andre nudged me awake for dinner time, I managed to choke down some re-hydrated lasagna even though I wasn’t hungry (side effect of altitude sickness) and I passed out for the night shortly after.
Are you clicking on the links? They take you to some pretty funny stuff…
I guess I woke up at some point…(?) because in the morning I found myself wandering around a hilltop overlooking our campsite, disoriented and unsure of how I got there. I vaguely remember vaguely remembering that I was looking for somewhere to pee, but I was on that hilltop in some weirdly disoriented state for about 20 minutes before I had the presence of mind to actually pee and get back to the relative security of my beloved hammock, where I passed out again for the next few hours.
When you feel really terrible, be it physically or emotionally, one of the best cures is to help someone else. This can be talking to a friend or loved one on the phone, or volunteering to feed the homeless. I found my way out of this particular downward spiral of feeling sick/bad for myself when a friendly Park Ranger and his two trusty Ranger Interns walked by. (“Rinterns“?) I asked what they were doing, to which they replied, “picking up trash and breaking up civilian-created fire rings.” Well obviously I had to help, if not for any reason other than to get to hang out with Park Rangers for the afternoon. I heaved my pitiful self out of the hammock and spent the next few hours picking up bits of aluminum people use to cook (that sh*t gets everywhere! Don’t use it!) used toilet paper (omg people, PACK IT OUT!!!) those little bits of packaging you tear off when opening food packages (whyyyyy do so many people drop those on the ground?) bottle caps (seriously?) and I even found a pair of underwear (so gross). Ranger Dude said he frequently also finds feminine hygiene products (PACK. IT. OUT.) and used condoms (yeah you heard that right). He made sure to note that while he appreciated people were taking precautions while gettin’ wild in the wild, he didn’t appreciate them leaving it on the ground for animals to eat or for him to pick up. Just picture how gross that is next time you want to leave one of those in a forest. So gross.
Speaking of things Bears shouldn’t eat, bear canisters are not required in Jennie Lakes Wilderness, but are highly recommended. You can rent a bear canister for just $5 for 3 nights at the nearby Kings Canyon or Sequoia National Parks visitors centers. It’s only $2 for each additional night after that. If you plan on camping in bear heavy areas often, you may consider purchasing one. You can find them on sale for about $50-$100. Here’s the thing about deciding whether or not you need a bear canister. Imagine packing all the things you need that have a scent on them. Food. Snacks. Toothpaste. Chapstick. Coffee. These are all essential things you need while hiking, especially the chapstick. Now envision yourself out in the middle of the wilderness. It’s serene and peaceful. You get hungry. You go to get the bear bag you hung from a tree, only to discover BEARS IN SEQUOIA ARE SMART, and there are only shreds of your bear bag strewn under the tree you hung it from and now you have no food or chapstick. That $5 and 2 extra pounds in your pack doesn’t seem so bad now, does it?
Still wondering if you really need a bear can? Here’s a helpful guide.
Well I’m done avoiding the reality that I don’t remember half the trip due to altitude sickness and you’ve probably caught on to the fact that I’m trying to distract you with information about bear cans, so here are the rest of our pictures of the trail.
Parting thoughts: Use a bear can. Pack out your trash. Climb to new heights, but climb slowly.
– C. Egli