DAY 10: We woke extremely early to catch the suns glimmer on the mountains around us at Evolution Lake. We sipped coffee and marveled at our perfect situation for a few hours before descending into an all day stretch of meadow.
Although the meadow was lush and vibrant, the walk this day was quite boring. We had no pass to focus on for the day. There was no rush, no drive. Just a thought in the back of my head saying, "walk, walk, walk."
In this section there are a few river crossings, some of which are very unclear. Pay close attention to the signs and your map. I had mine out the whole way, tried to walk along a part of the river that was recommended when the water level was low, and still got lost.
We took a dip in the rushing river beside us during lunch, too. My upper thighs had developed a rash that looked like a combination of diaper rash and sunburn; but really they looked like dragon scales. It wasn't pleasant and it felt like my legs were being permanently stung by bees when I was in direct sunlight. I was really banking on finding lotion at Muir Trail Ranch, our first resupply the following day.
A few times this day, I remember passing groups of men that would call us 'ladies.' I was surprised by my own reluctance to accept this compliment. I didn't feel like a girl. I didn't know girls in Los Angeles walking down the street with fish guts under their fingernails. But the sentiment from passing male hikers kept coming our way and I loosened my grip on the idea...I was a lady in the woods and although we are all equal out there, some still thought I had a slight semblance of grace. I chose to accept that with open fish gut arms.
Overcoming this less exciting day on the trail, I learned a lot about myself. I began understanding the benefits this whole hike had on my life and contemplating the idea of a longer one. If I were doing this for months on the PCT, how would that alter me? I can't imagine the change it could permanently imprint in my life. Everything out there suddenly holds such value - communication, food, strength, relationships with other hikers - they all mean so much. But in the real world (at lease the one I live in) these necessities become washed away versions of themselves. Everything means so little because because there's too much to focus on.
We stopped to pitch camp along the river a few miles shy of Muir Trail Ranch. We couldn't WAIT to get our resupplies the next day, so we went to bed quite early to pass the time till our feast.
DAY 11: So much happened this day. First off...FOOD FOOD FOOD! It felt like Christmas waking up, skipping breakfast, and racing down the trail to Muir Trail Ranch for our resupplies. All I was thinking was "hot cheetos" and by 10 AM I was eating them, sitting on a victorious stump.
At Muir Trail Ranch, we met a ton of hikers going southbound. The lot of us were sifting through the buckets of abandoned goods left from other hikers. Anna and I ate chocolate and granola bars and I found lotion for my dragon scales rash. Although MTR itself wasn't very friendly to hikers passing through, all the hikers were eager to share and expand their trail community with each other.
Anna and I were told there were hot springs nearby. We ventured to find them, which deemed difficult, but eventually we figured it out. If you head towards the stream in the opposite direction of the JMT, you have to cross the stream and walk along the fence on the right. From there, you will happen upon a hot natural spring (probably around 80 degrees) to soak your muscles while taking in the surrounding mountains. We were pampering in style.
On our way out, we met two boys who'd started the same day as us from Yosemite. They gave us their highlights, while we gave them ours. They were such trail angels to us; giving advice, expressing how lucky we all were, and just taking the time to connect with us. One of the boys gave me a bushel of freshly picked sage, which I carried the rest of the trail.
We continued our ascent from Muir Trail Ranch all the way to Selden Pass and Marie Lake. It was an intense climb, but we pushed through. The clouds were getting pretty ominous for the first time on the trail and I got really nervous. We were climbing towards them as they were getting darker, but turning around would have been awful. Instead, we kept on and the clouds never really touched us. They fell over a mountain range in the other direction as we peaked Selden Pass, a gorgeous climb.
Still, it was one of our longer days and we truly jam packed it with adventure. It was lovely to sit and enjoy the sunset at the beautiful Marie Lake after our long day. I was getting so used to the beauty, I couldn't fathom not having it every day.
DAY 12: We got up pretty early this morning to get our 12 miles in to Vermillion Valley Resort before 4PM (when the last ferry of the day picks up from the port). We said goodbye to the glorious Marie Lake and spent the day fighting with flies, which put me in such a bad mood. I couldn't stop hiking without them trying to get up my nose or down my shirt. This told me that I must've smelled vile.
We descended switchbacks for about two hours into the valley and met a fellow hiker who had retired from Cirque du Soleil after 15 years. Now he's just walking. The whole day was filled with bees and flies and peanut M&Ms. Anna and I fantasized about the food menu at Vermillion Valley Resort. I had slowly convinced myself that it was the fried food equivalent to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory with our own Everlasting Gobstoppers and lick-able wallpaper.
We arrived to the ferry port around 2:30 to wait in line. There were a few hikers in front of us who explained that the ferry was broken. Instead, they were retrieving hikers with tiny motored fishing boats that fit 4 people. A few minutes later, Jason showed up! He had been chasing our tails for days and was so impressed with our speed. We all went swimming in Edison Lake until the boats came.
It took about 40 minutes to cross the lake on the little boat. Upon arrival, all PCT/JMT hikers get a free beer. That was the first thing we did. Then, we setup camp and took showers. Hot water on my body for the first time in 13 days felt sinful. It was so luxurious and I vowed to never take showers for granted again.
We ate dinner in the diner that night and were approached by families vacationing at VVR, in awe of our accomplishments thus far. Yes we had hiked 150 miles, but that was chump change to those on the PCT. Our tummies got so full so fast and we drank too much beer. I slept very very well that night.