DAY 5 - Palisade Lake to Barret Lake

Distance: 13.3km (8.3mi)
Hiking time: 10:06hr
Elevation gain: 1,673m (5,488ft)
Total people met: 5 (only on JMT)
‘From afar, the upper part of this pass looks
impassable because of steep, monolithic cliffs.’ - Steve Roper

Elevation versus Distance graph for the section from Palisade Lake to Barret Lake for the Sierra High Route

The night was calm and it did not rain. The first few miles started off on the JMT. The trail is super easy to follow as it is quite worn out and a much faster pace than on the SHR can be obtained. The night was cold and we started off with our warm layers. Once we passed the lower lake, it was time to go off-trail again towards Cirque Pass. The first 300 foot high barrier proved far more complex than anticipated in the Roper book. To find a passable route was not easy so we left our backpacks behind twice to scout for a good route. These setbacks are frustrating and for a short period of time our mood dropped. However, because of the beauty of the trail, once a path is found, the motivation is back.

After the first section, the route finding was much easier and we found ourselves at the base of Cirque Pass. The pass was not too difficult to ascend. It just involved a lot of loose scree field and big talus which is tedious. The descend involved steep talus, as usual. The route finding was easier as you could scout a good path by looking down from the top. There were many slabs and ledges that made the descend not too bad. The traverse to Potluck pass was good. We filled up our water bottles at the lake and headed towards the pass. The weather turned around, clouds came in. For the first part, we were heading up the scree field to the left. The second part of the pass was far more tricky than the rest. Roper wrote in his book that there are hidden ledges that make the ascend easy. However, these were not always easy to find.

Again, we scouted some paths with our backpack and after a few trial and errors, we found a path passing by a tree. The top was again very steep and a small, in my opinion, class 3 section was involved to reach the top. After a brief stop on the top with a short of section of hail we began the tedious descend down the pass with grassy slopes. We countoured along the east side of the first lake to reach Barrett Lake. At this point the rain began to worsen and for about 30min we walked in the rain and we got soaking wet. Also, the temperature dropped significantly and we were freezing. We took the first spot that looked OK to camp and quickly set up our camp. We were both super cold, we went into the tent, removed our wet layers and put on all of our insulating layers and pulled up our down sleeping bed. The rain had stopped and after a quick dinner outside of the tent, we went to sleep. We laid out everything in our tent to dry, but this would not happen.

Morning view towards Cirque Pass

John Muir Trail is highly visible :)

Below Cirque Pass 

View from Cirque Pass towards Potluck Pass.
The weather suddenly started to change and clouds appear.

Low hanging clouds with view towards Cirque Pass.

Quick snack break and getting our jackets out.

Here the route towards Potluck Pass was not very easy to find. Zeno went scouting for a good route. 

It started to hail so we had to put raincovers on.

View from Potluck Pass towards Barret Lake, our camping spot.

It started to rain and it got freezing cold.

Omg, the weather turned really bad and it was sooo cold. 

Hiding our food from the bears :)

Zeno dared to go out in the cold to prep our food. 

We were both super wet and had to wear all of our spare clothing.
The rain finally stopped but the clouds were still hanging very low.