Thursday, September 6, 2012

Day 9: Spa Day at Muir Trail Ranch

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Marie Lake (mile 106.2) to Muir Trail Ranch (mile 114.2).

Today's miles: 8
Trip miles: 114.2

Soggy start to the day as it was very humid last night and I was camped out in the open (sans tree cover). There was lots of condensation inside my tent, and I was sliding to the right slightly (not the most level campsite I've ever chosen).

I slept in and got a later start as I knew I had fewer miles to cover today. I love nero days because I can let my laziness shine and hike even slower than I usually do.

I hit the trail around 7:30 am and enjoyed glorious views of Marie Lake, Heart Lake, and Sallie Keyes Lakes. As I was drying out my tent, sleeping bag, and air pad at Sallie Keyes, Jake rolled through. He was hauling it to Muir Trail Ranch to see about reserving a couple rooms as Colin and Tyler were both suffering with Achilles issues.

Beautiful Marie Lake
Heart Lake from Selden Pass
Sallie Keyes Lakes
another trailside used gear sale

Loooooong downhill to Muir Trail Ranch
We made good time to the Ranch, where our resupplies were also waiting for us.

They say about 1000 buckets are shipped to the Ranch each year!
Door to the bucket hut..which only international hikers get to sign 
The most important storage shed for a hiker! 
As we walked in, a sweet old lady took our claim checks and went about retrieving our resupply buckets.

I was REALLY hoping the store on the property would have apples for sale but unfortunately, they had no food for sale, just hiking related stuff.

The Muir Trail Ranch is a wonderful place with very friendly staff. They treated me very well and inquired about my trip. This stood out to me because with all the hikers that roll in, one might tire of inquiring about people's adventures, but not them. They really love the outdoors and it shows.

pack horse stalls at the ranch 

The store @ the Ranch
Ranch cabins and lounge in the distance
Next to the shed that houses the resupply buckets are many buckets full of food other hikers have left behind. We are free to go through them and take what we want. I looked for sunglasses but didn't find a pair. But, Tallulah, a fellow hiker who packed way too much food had just unloaded dehydrated apples and peaches. SCORE!!

hiker buckets full of free stuff
organizing my bearcan and trying to make it all fit
dehydrated apples have never tasted better!!
She, Will, John and Chris were great company and a fun group of people. We all foraged through the buckets, and found foodstuffs we craved, wanted and didn't know we wanted. I took 5 assorted organic tea bags and hemp seeds.

left to right: me, Tallulah, Will, Chris, John
I then tried to somehow fit my seven days worth of food into my bearproof food canister - something I wasn't able to accomplish at home before I shipped my food to the Ranch. With slight force and lovely words of encouragement, it all fit..eventually.

will it all fit?
you bet it will way or another
Fully loaded with 2.5 liters of water, 7 days of food and all my gear, my pack weighed in at 29 pounds. Not too shabby although in my opinion the scale at the ranch is slightly off. I think my pack weighs slightly more.

All the while we were fooling around with food matters, I was also charging my phone and camera.
Once they were charged, Chris - aka Rogue Photonic - and I were ready to leave the ranch property to find a place to camp. As we were walking out, I saw a woman who looked familiar to me. It was Donna from Australia hiking the JMT with her partner Paul. It was great to meet her in person as we'd been following each others' journies on Hope they have a great hike!

Chris and I finally left the ranch and after 10 minutes of walking, we had our gear down, and tents were doing up. Fifteen minutes later we were on our way to Blaney Hot Springs. Oh how refreshing, soothing and relaxing the clothing optional hot spring was.

crossing the river to get to the hot springs...longest ford of any river on the trip!

There were a few people enjoying themselves when we got there, but they left soon after and we had the place to ourselves. Shortly after, Elizabeth and Veronica joined us, great gals out hiking the Sierras for a week.

hangin out at clothing optional Blaney Hot Spring. thanks for taking the pic Veronica
After a great long soak and great conversation with wonderful people, we all headed back to camp for dinner. Chris and I got a fire going and were joined by a fun family of three camping nearby whose previous longest backpacking trip was 3 nights. Rock on! The retired couple - previously employed by the U.S. Air Force - were hiking the JMT with their son, who was in charge of filtering all their water and documenting their trip with a DSLR camera. Great people.

After they left, Chris and I chatted more about his 141 day trip, of which he is on day 74. Rock on Chris!

It's waaay passed hiker midnight and I'm pooped. Great day at the ranch, but I'm ready to stretch my legs tomorrow.
”Wander a whole summer if you can. Time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it & make you truly immortal.” ~John Muir

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