JMT 2019 Day 8: Struggle Bus

September 11, 2019
VVR to Rosemarie Meadow
Day miles: 12.5 mi
Cumulative miles: 79.2

I was going to try to make it to Marie Lake for the night, but came up a bit short because carrying my 8 days of food became a struggle bus after the first few hours. I weighed my pack for the first time when leaving VVR. It was 36 pounds with 8 days of food and 1 liter of water, the heaviest my pack would be for the entire JMT. 36 pounds was under the guideline that your pack should be under 1/3 of your weight but it was burdensome and my ULA Circuit stopped feeling like it carried well. (ULA website suggests keeping loads under 35lbs for the Circuit.)

The normal ferry had been repaired the day before, so the trip back across Edison Lake was a leisurely scenic ride. The sun had come out by the time we arrived. I took off ahead of everyone delayering and repacking at the ferry dock.

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Climbing up Bear Ridge from Edison Junction (2000ft+ elevation gain in ~5 miles) took 3 hours from 10:20 am to 1:20 pm, which wasn’t terrible, but I couldn’t seem to pick up my pace even after the terrain mellowed out. Everyone from my VVR ferry passed me and I didn’t see anyone again until I passed Peter (a retired ornithologist) and John from Hawaii, who I’d eaten dinner with the night before, setting up camp. They explained that they are “union hikers” and only hike until 4 pm. I asked, “Did no one else need to stop for a lunch break?” My pace of 10-12 miles a day seemed to be a common 65 year old retiree pace, and it was a little demoralizing not to see anyone for so long. (Not that I am not totally used to getting my butt kicked by 70-year-olds carrying giant packs full of heavy camera equipment in Japan. Also, I think this is because most people my age have jobs and try to complete the JMT within 2 weeks. So people who budget to hike the JMT in about 3 weeks are retired, or work seasonally or on contract or are European…)

Most of the day was not super impressive in terms of scenic vistas, but I loved the smell of the redwoods and the sound of Bear Creek running over bare granite. A little gem of the day was when a father-daughter pair showed me a fish they had just caught as I passed them at a creek crossing.

I gave up about 2 miles short of Marie Lake and camped near two fishermen, Ken and Danny, also hiking the JMT and also headed to Paiute Creek tomorrow. The meadow was pretty mosquito-y, and there was one mosquito I just couldn’t catch in my tent, so I fell asleep worrying I’d wake up with an archipelago of bites on my face.

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Vista north through break in the trees to Seven Gables

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Beautiful Bear Creek, lots of fishing opportunities along the trail

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Lodgepole pines growing straight out of granite slabs

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Seven Gables

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