Our next mile was a steeper switchbacking ascent through lodgepole forest. It was a relatively easy section of trail, though the heat of the day was starting to set in and wear at us a bit.
We reached the junction for the Taboose Pass trail by about 11 am. It was unfortunately at this point that our friends Joe & Kristie would be leaving us. We said our goodbyes and each took our path, them heading east towards 11,360' Taboose Pass, and us heading south to tackle 12,130' Pinchot Pass.
Eventually we pressed on, climbing the last meadowy tarn up to the shoreline of Lake Marjorie. I was severely tempted to just stop there for the rest of the day. The lake was an amazing emerald colour and looked very welcoming in the mid-day heat. There was even a group of hikers getting ready to jump in!
The pass was calling and we knew we needed to get more miles under our boots before the day was through. We climbed away from the lake, passing another emerald-coloured lake and eventually hiking through large talus from the nearby slopes.
Upon reaching the summit of Pinchot Pass I was rewarded by a beautiful view south of the next alpine basin, filled with small lakes and dominated by awesome peaks. We also got to enjoy the company of a friendly marmot hanging out nearby and munching on the grass.
Eventually we had to move on, dropping along the switchbacks on the south side of the pass and into the alpine basin below. The trail stayed high above the lakes we had seen.
Dan maintained a positive attitude and allowed me a couple breaks through the last miles. It was worth pushing on as the campsite we found near the outlet of Twin Lakes was secluded and beautiful. We were able to rinse off the sweat and dust from the day in the cool waters of the lake and we enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the Woods Creek drainage.
We had put in a strong 12 miles of hiking, and our reward would be a shorter day to the famously beautiful Rae Lakes.