September 7, 2017
Reds’s Meadow – Camp by creek with other tenters nearby warning of the ‘terrible mosquitos’
I’m dropped off by our good friends The Nelson’s and know clearly how lucky I am to have these wonderful humans in our lives. They are not only friends they’re also very unofficial personal ‘trail angels’ I owe many an adventure to. I only hope to pay them back with random trail drop-offs one day. Better yet, do these kinds of adventures with them.
Feels good to walk again. I pass many JMT’ers and a few PCT’ers, too. Class of 2017 has endured many obstacles with massive Sierra snow flipping many NOBO’s north and then back south to complete the trail. I meet Hummingbird and Chilli. Hummingbird is wearing a dress printed with bright pink flowers. We complement each other and rave on the pros of hiking in a dress. They’re LASHING (long ass section hiking) from Ashland, Oregon to Campo.
Before i I know it I’m at Purple Lake cruising along. Thought I’d camp in the spot where Peter and I spent the night sleeping out, my first slumber under the stars, back in 1998 but I continue on. I don’t recognize the lake nor remember where the heck we slept. No kidding, this many years later.
I soon realize there’s no water and it’s getting dark. I’m committed now and continue marching along, hoping for some flow. Only concern is bear-nagging in the pitch black. Not easy but what to do.
Big fat loaded with resupply backpack
Finally there’s water so I collect and carry, looking for a spot to pitch the notch tent for the night. Then there is so much damn water I have to laugh because I’m carrying a few gallons for nothing. Water but no spot to camp. Finally I find a flat area by a creek and put down my pack. I rustle around shining my headlamp in search of a high branch to bear bag when I realize there’s a tent right beside me. No rain fly just mosquito netting. ‘Oh, hi. Mind if I camp here?’. They say go ahead but watch out there are tons of mosquitoes. I look around some more finding a better flatter spot across the trail and not a single biting bug.
I rinse in the dark set the bear bag pitch the tent make dinner and finally FINALLY lie down for the night.
September 8, 2017
.2 miles past McGee Junction – Marie Lake camp
23.1 miles/10hrs 15’
Relieved to be in the tent with cold rain falling all around. I’m at Marie Lake at 10,500ft. Was going to walk further but not with threatening skies this high. Plus I’m tired. Why not stop at this beautiful place I’ve passed by two different JMT hikes with Peter? I remember back in 2013 we filtered water here marvelling at the beauty.
Camp at Marie Lake
Damn I hope this tent will continue to fare well in the rain. I suspect I may be in for more through the Sierra.
Marie Lake – 11,300 feet camp north of Muir Pass
Well, here I am, dry but dirty in the tent one of those decisions one has to feel good about making. Raven caws outside, letting me know I made the good call cutting the day short. Drops of ice-cold rain falling all around while I walk my way up to Muir Pass. Can’t be that bad, I think. I think again and rationalize gaining more elevation with precipitation shilling my bones. The first clap of thunder leads to an inner commitment of ‘the first flat spot I see that’s good enough for the night I’m taking it.’
But back to the morning. My day begins early with a 3:30m wake up. No alarm, I’m just up. So why not walk? Feels good to be on my feet. Any fatigue from the day prior is gone. As is the rain. Fresh cool crisp high mountain air fills me up with fuel for the day. Early morning light with no breeze allows reflections in high mountain lakes offering but just one beautiful peak to admire, but two for the price of one.
I meet Dario the Ranger who has worked this backcountry for 43 years. He’s dismantling the massive girth of a fire pit. He loves his work and shares an absolute passion for the great outdoors. Peter told me about Dario awhile back. It was 1993 when Peter and a few NOBO’s dared to cross the Sierra against all warnings with the massive snow season still in full swing. Much like this year. They got to Crabtree Meadows tired but stoked and met this young ranger, Dario, who offered them soup and some pulls from his bottle of liquor. The guys were so stoked they sent up a fresh bottle for him when down in one of the Eastern Sierra Nevada towns, asking the local forest ranger station if they could send it up in the next ranger resupply.
Dario asks my trail name and is happy when I say ‘RedFeather’. Like your hair, he says. He tells me how much he admires the thru-hikers and I mention I’m only hiking half the trail. ‘ No matter’ he says ‘you are all inspiring’. I reply that all I’m doing is walking but think later on that day I should have said ‘it’s nature that inspires.’
And now I’m huddled in the tent listening to two knuckleheads pitching heir tents right beside me. I ignore the chatter and notice the rain has stopped. With vestibule open I cook up my dinner while tucked cozily in my sleeping bag. A NOBO JMT hiker passes by and says ‘well look at you, all set up in your little tarp tent’ I smile and think we’ll yes I am. So happy to make the decision to stop. Cooking right outside my tent in bear country but there are so many people around I think oh well why not.
Thunder rolls high on the peaks echoing all around. I’m safe and happy and without my water bottle shower dirty but warm.