Lower Palisade Lake to the base of Knapsack Pass
Distance: 10.70km Elevation Gain: 800m

Was hoping to make it over 3 passes on this day (Circ Pass, Potluck Pass & Knapsack Pass) but progress was slow as I often seemed to choose the more difficult lines through the terrain. I had much to learn about hiking in the Sierra’s but was still loving the experience.
Morning light on two peaks. The route today is to the right of this photo which leads up to Circ Pass.

Shortly after taking the above photo early on Day 5 I pulled out my water purification tablets. I’d much rather be filtering the water but these are a decent second choice. While attempting to extract one from it’s blister pack something was wrong. There was no ‘tablet’, I was pushing out a wet gooey substance. They were expired, long expired or had been wet and absorbed moisture it would seem. Either way they couldn’t be trusted. What now?

I thought over my choices;
1. I could hike out and buy more tablets or a filter but it might take up to 3 days to do so and in the process I’d be drinking untreated water on the way out anyways.
2. I could ask other hikers if they had any extra tablets they could spare, but that didn’t seem right as I didn’t want to deprive others of their backup options.
3. I could drink unfiltered water and take my chances.

To me the choice came quickly as I was too stubborn to leave the route. I felt I could reduce the risk by waiting to drink and fill up my bottles from the coldest and highest streams where the snow had only most recently melted. The writer of the SHR guide book, Steve Roper, had said that he mostly drank unfiltered water in the high country for over 40 years and never got sick.

The decision was made and I hoped for the best. Onward to Circ Pass.

How do I get over these cliffs?
Nope, not that way

The first obstacle for the day after some upwards hiking was a cliff band that halted progress like a stop sign. The guide book recommended heading over to the left side where it was safer. I found a line that looked good but still had to make one move that was admittedly more sketchy than I liked.

Once past the cliff bands the guide book had said there should be little trouble finding gently angled slabs and gullies leading to the pass. Unfortunately I ended up ascending more talus and boulders and when I got to the point where I could see the easier line to my right there were steep cliffs preventing me from heading over there. I just had to laugh at myself and shake my head, at least I was getting a good workout, haha, yeah that’s it. (wipes tears from his eyes).

On top of Circ pass at last! This is a peak to the right of the pass
Mountains beyond the valley where I had started from early that morning
Another view from the pass
Nice little lake below the pass. I have to hike around the left side and go through the center left notch which is Potluck Pass.
The red line is the recommended route up. You zigzag up the steep gravel/sand section and then head right on a good ramp. It wasn’t too bad really but until finding that ramp it looked quite scary and I wondered if the pass could actually be accessed safely
Southern view from the top of Circ Pass
Northern view towards Potluck Pass which is the notch in the middle of the video thumbnail

Moving past Potluck Pass into the Palisade Basin, next in line was to be Knapsack Pass, Dusy Basin and then steeply down into Leconte Canyon where I planned on spending the night. I didn’t make it. Day 5 marked the first of 6 days of rain that often halted progress right before a pass.

After the rain stopped the fog rolled in

Dark storm clouds gathered and the rain started around 3pm when I was 3/4 of the way up Knapsack Pass. Lightning is a real danger when on a pass so I headed down to the base and set up my tent. Just in time! Five minutes later intense rain, hail and lightning filled the air. Whew, good choice to stop. I was low on water so I put my 4 cup pot outside and with the help of runoff from the tent it filled up in 10 minutes.

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