Thursday, September 8, 2016

Are We There Yet?

Are we there yet?  Little did I know this would become my mantra when I would catch up to my hiking partners, Jim and Marge, who are much more experienced and stronger than me. 

When we began this wild idea to hike the John Muir Trail, we had to apply for a permit six months ahead of our leaving date, choose camping spots, and determine when we would be exiting at Whitney Portal. 

After many faxes to the appropriate agency, we were finally accepted to begin our hike at Rush Creek Trail Head which is near June Lake and over 40 miles from the beginning of the North to South bound John Muir Trail originating in Yosemite National Park.

August 24, 2016
We look eager and ready don't we?  I did not even know how to properly wear my backpack.  We did not take an exiting photo because my camera stopped working.  Now I can point out how the hip belt is at my waist instead of my hips, and the chest strap is crossing me at the areola level and not my sternum.

We ascended more than 2300 feet the first day with continual stops for me to adjust my pack of 29 pounds.  Reaching Lake Agnew, we looked back to view the Mono Lake Basin.

At one point all my visual inputs had purple accents.  Then everything turned a hazy yellow.  Time for a shade break.

After hiking about six miles, we camped for the night at Summit Lake. No padded, comfy, warm, down sleeping bag ever felt better.

August 25, 2016
A foraging deer greeted us at the lake as we headed out the next morning.

It was a gorgeous day of relatively flat hiking past Clark Lakes heading to Thousand Island Lake.

Mt. Ritter on the left and Banner Peak are in the background.

All the lakes have wonderful names.  This is Emerald Lake.

Ruby Lake

Garnet Lake

Another view of Garnet Lake with Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak.

Lake Ediza Junction was the camp site for our second night.

Immediately opposite the photo above shows an example of the many log bridges we crossed.

August 26, 2016
Today we mostly hiked down, down, down.  Our first down took us past many pools like this one that eventually led to beautiful Shadow Lake.

Rosalie Lake

Marge waiting and resting for me before we reached

Our day was not quite finished.  We camped for the night at Red's Meadow Campground.  Jim saw this deer following me as we went up the last hill. 

Sharing a camping space with fellow hikers T and Jordan, we experienced our only rain shower as we hurriedly set up our tents.  Just .2 of mile away was Red's Meadow Resort with its Mule House Restaurant calling Jim's name for a burger and Marge's and mine for tuna melts plus all the beer we cared to buy at the nearby resort store.  I think we walked more than 13 miles today.

August 27, 2016
Today was an up, up, up day...11 1/2 miles up and 1/2 mile down.  We should have stopped after seven miles, but no, we pushed on to Duck Pass Junction.  Much of the afternoon we had these amazing views of Cascade Valley.

August 28, 2016
Jim had been throwing out the idea of turning back for the past two days.  He has hiked this John Muir Trail twice before in his life.  I think the hamburger did it.  If we had stopped at Deer Creek the day before, I would not have had the tiredness that prompted me to say that this was not fun any more.  Regardless of the excuses, Jim and I decided to turn back to Red's Meadow, a short bus ride from Mammoth Lakes.

Marge was determined to reach Duck Lake, wash her hair, and keep hiking to the finish line.  We hugged and waved goodbyes, said good lucks.

A small waterfall was within view of our campsite.

We were tired today and hiked only five miles to Deer Creek in three hours.  We spent the rest of the day napping and reading.

August 29, 2016
Seven miles in three hours was the last hike of this trip for us.  On our way down we met 26 people going the other way.  Only one person passed us.  We, and, I think, Marge had nearly no trepidation about her continuing on her own.  Many people hike solo.  She had a solar charger and was usually in daily contact with her husband.

As we were driving out of Yosemite the next day, we got a call telling us that Marge had decided to leave the trail in two days at Muir Trail Lodge, our resupply site.  She was tired and missed us.  She ended up hiking nearly 1/4 of the John Muir Trail.

Afterwards she wrote a note for this post about her experience:
"One must personally experience the hike to really appreciate the beauty and peace on the trail.  No words can describe an individual's feelings and what he or she takes away from this adventure.  I feel privileged and fortunate to be able to hike just this portion of the JMT with such loving friends."

Hiking the John Muir Trail is an arduous undertaking, and I truly admire those who manage to finish.  I expected to complete our hike, but I was doing too much too fast, and I gave out.  I really enjoyed the 6 days, 5 nights that we completed.  Instead of a thru hiker, I think I am a section hiker.  
Jim is already talking about another hike this summer.

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