Day 9: 11.2 miles, 97.7 cumulative, Bear Creek to Muir Trail Ranch (8200′)
River crossings in June and early July had been crazy due to the record snow, with reports of hikers being swept away. By the time we hit the trail the rivers had calmed, but were still very high, and Bear Creek was rumored to be dangerous. NOBO hikers had told us there was a log crossing, so I crawled out of bed into the damp morning and started searching for it. I hiked downstream maybe a quarter mile and found a large downed tree. From where I was it looked like the top went underwater. There was also a small island in the middle and I couldn’t see how to cross the other side of the river. But, its the best we had. The crossing at the trail definitely looked too swift to try.
Day 7: 7.3 miles hiked, 74 cumulative, Silver Pass Lake to VVR (7600′)
This day would take us to Vermillion Valley Resort. It is a remote back country resort that is super friendly to thru hikers. A ferry picks up hikers on the east side of Edison Lake twice a day and ferries them across, so we had until 4pm to get to the pick up spot.
We had our daily routine down, but we were never fast movers in the morning. It was light by 5:30 am and I was awake by 6:00 every day. By 6:30 I was usually up to relieve myself and would start boiling water. I had coffee and Nathan had hot chocolate, if only to warm up and get us going. It was always cold in the mornings, our down puffy jackets and wool beanies a must for exiting the tent. We studied the map while we ate breakfast, deciding how far we would go and where we would try and camp that night. Mentally preparing for hard climbs or rivers crossings. Then we would pack up and be on our way by 8-ish.
Day 3: 11.2 miles hiked, 38.2 cumulative, Thousand Island Lake to Trinity Lakes outlet (8990′)
I crawled out of bed early into a crisp cold dawn. I snapped some more pictures of Thousand Island Lake in the morning light and drank my coffee in the quiet. I relished the beauty and the peace of the Sierras. Eventually the cold and breakfast brought me back to task. We packed up and hit the trail, getting into the routine of hiking. It was a day for lakes as we passed six gorgeous bodies of water, crystal clear mirrors of the Sierras.
Day 1: 12.4 miles hiked, 17.4 cumulative, Tuolumne to below Donohue (10,190′)
My son and I woke in the Tuolumne backpackers camp and packed up. As we were drinking our morning coffee/hot chocolate a ranger showed up. Donned with a grey beard and the standard wide brimmed hat, he didn’t care that the campground was closed. He just wanted to check our permits and verify that we all had the required bear canisters. Armed with the current bear activity warnings…we were off.
So I hiked the John Muir Trail. The whole blessed thing. I can’t believe I did it! Just started walking and didn’t stop for 20 days. It’s a bit more complicated than that. But here I am on the other side. So…how did it begin?