Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Coed Brenin Enduro 2014

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The JMT Part 3 - Reds Meadow to Muir Trail Ranch

Trail names:  I'd heard that people on the big hikes like the PCT (2600 mile) have/use trail names, for example a guy from Kendal uses milky (he's a milkman!). You can assign (!) yourself a name or be named by others on the trail. We met ipod at VVR (thanks for the bars man), Snort (she snorts when she laughs apparently) and Huff and Puff (a great couple who huff and puff as they hike uphill - brilliant). Coming from the UK this practise is a little strange, but on reflection I like the sheer child like fun of it. I guess some are forming an alternative trail identity, importantly how they wish to be interpreted with these names. Maybe also it links into the escapism and simple existence that you experience on the trail too. I'd love to study the sociology of it. We gave ourselves joke trail names but didn't really use them, for example Abi was Nose Bleed, because she kept getting nose bleeds, and one of us was Potty Mouth, but that's another story.....

Anyways (like how I did that? Anyways, now I'm not sure if it is more American or Canadian - I'd need a local to let me know?!). Anyways, back to our hike.......

From Red Meadows we waddled uphill (double cheeseburger) to Deer Creek through an area previously burnt out by fire. Deer Creek was reasonably busy (4-5 parties) because its a natural place to camp (by water, next water 5 miles). A family with 2/3 children (can't remember!) and 2 horses also arrived and camped, heading North on the JMT. We drifted off to sleep listening to the horses bells jingling all night long (I guess to warn bears).
Leaving Reds Meadow, going through an area previously burnt by forest fire

Camp at Deer Creek

The next section was great, a long traversing path (?5 miles) with great views over the range. Lake Virginia was of particular note on this stretch of the trail. Its also very spectacular when you suddenly arrive at a vantage point overlooking the Tully Hole (meadows) far far below. Eventually we camped after big  metal bridge with great views of a massive pyramid shaped mountain that appeared to have cool (but hard) climbing on it (must look it up!).

The great panorama trail

Lunch stop at Purple Lake

Lake Virginia, the views opened out here
Camp in the spooky woods after the metal bridge/Tully Hole

Last evening light on the mountain
Heading up to Goodale Pass next day

We'd heard at Reds that the ferry at Edison Lake had stopped running 10 days earlier, which would have meant another 5 miles on top of our 12 mile day to get to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) for our first and only zero day (American term for a rest day - you go zero miles!). Because of this it made much more sense (more direct) to go over Goodale Pass as we'd heard from numerous people that the walk along Edison Lake (now drained for the year) was a slog. This was a beautiful route, once off the JMT the trails got quieter, wilder and less well maintained. I'd love to know the story behind the Graveyard Meadows area that we passed through (anyone?).
Spooky but beautiful graveyard valley

Lunch time (peanut butter again)
Arrived at VVR a broken man after a 15 mile day (tired +++). What a cool place, an oasis for the weary hiker. After pitching the tent we opened a tab and had a delicious meal. Worth the the detour for sure and we were all ready for a rest day here. With the boat not running to get back on route we could either hike the lake shore (horrid), go up Bear Ridge (everyone said it was hot, shadeless, no water, no fun) or go up Bear Creek. We did the latter and the trail went up a great verdant valley with plunge pools in the river and plenty of shade (it was mega hot). Unusual weather, with a fogginess due to the smoke from the rim fire, hazing out the hills.
Finally a zero (rest) day at VVR

Cool signs
Lake Edison (drained) - wheres all the water gone....

This next section should again be called the 'Lake Distict', one beautiful lake after another as we crossed Seldon Pass (10,900ft) and started the 3400ft descent to Muir Trail Ranch (MTR - they like abbreviations on the here). We started to see day trippers coming up from the ranch at this point.

Marie Lake (I think!)

Looking back down at the Lake from the Seldon Pass

Next valley, now just 3,300ft of descent to Muir Trail Ranch

MTR is an unusual operation, a ranch 'off grid' that has loads of horses, has rooms and claims to be 'your wilderness basecamp'! Also its half way along the JMT and the last place that you can post yourself a food resupply before the last 100 miles of hiking. We collected a resupply here and it costs $55 for this service (MTR charge). They must make a good income from this, some days in the short summer season (the ranch closes and is derelict in the winter due to the snow) they have over a 100 buckets/hikers a day. 100 x $55 = $5,500 per day - nice.

I'd heard people on the trail saying that this is a rip off, but to get your parcel to MTR they have to collect it from the Post Office, drive for 1.5-2 hours on a single track road, either water taxi it across Florence Lake or pack it around the shore on horses (4 miles), then either drive it 5 miles over the most extreme road you'll ever see in a ex military 4x4 lorry, or again pack it in on horses and then finally catalogue it and store it in the bucket shed! I think its worth every cent of the $55, having travelled this route!

The hiker resupply operation is run by Pat a real character, very nice but also very formidable (she told me no ticket no bucket as I frantically searched for my pickup ticket!). She'd worked on the footpaths in this area for many years and had been at MTR for 12 years (I think), we had a great chat about climbing and she said she has always wanted to visit Wales, and asked me about the mountains here and why they are so special - I hope she fulfills her dream.

After sorting out our food, we forded the river (exciting) and soaked in the nearby hot springs. I enjoyed it however you are basically sitting in a hot murky, muddy puddle, not sure if we would rush back.....

Pat, Queen of the buckets at Muir Ranch, she runs a tight ship (shed)

Benches with shade to sort out your food resupplies
Catching up with diaries at camp just South of Muir Ranch

P.S. Don't worry the next post is the final one about the JMT!

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