Jennie Lakes Wilderness
September 30-October 2, 1999
The air was still; the lake was as smooth as glass. I spent the better part of the day
hiking here, and now, sitting beside my little tent, I breathed in deeply.
On this autumn eve, I had the lake to myself. The only sound was an occasional trout
leaping from the water, breaking the surface of the lake into small concentric circles
that spread slowly to its edge and then lapped at a few granite boulders. I could smell
the piney forest scent. I could feel the cool air.
In a few more weeks I would be let go from my seasonal position working as a Park
Ranger for Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. But the stress I had been feeling that
fall, the stress of finding a new job and moving, melted away as I sat at the shore of
Jennie Lake. The peace I found there was just what I needed.
The next day I awoke early and hiked up to the ridge below J.O. Pass. The meaning of its
name wasn't as apparent as the pass I'd hiked over the day before, Poop Out Pass. I
imagined it meant, "The Park is J.O. that ridge - 'just over' that ridge."
This was my first time hiking on the Sequoia National Forest, now considered part of
Giant Sequoia National Monument. The Jennie Lakes Wilderness fills up a corner there,
surrounded on two edges by Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. It, I concluded, was
a well-kept secret. I saw no one that weekend, save a couple walking their dog around
the trailhead parking area.
After leaving the J.O. Pass area, the trail stayed nearly level for a couple of miles, then
made a long descent into the Boulder Creek area. Ancient Sierra junipers grew along the
steep, dry slopes. The creek was a welcome site; it was cool and moist.
Most of the way up the other side the trail disappeared; it looked as though recent rains
washed away the foot trail. I had to rely on old blaze marks on the trees to find my way
to Weaver Lake.
Weaver Lake made a wonderful campsite for my second day out. Though smaller than
Jennie, it was just as beautiful and still.
I woke up the next day with the first autumn frost on my sleeping bag. I was eager to
get going in order to warm up, so after a quick breakfast of a granola bar, I packed up
and headed out.
I made it back to the trailhead just as the sun was melting the frost off the pine
needles. And soon enough I was back to reality, back to my uncertain future.
Who knew, that in three short years, I'd get a job working for the Sequoia National
Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument?