What a difference a day makes! Early this morning (6:30), Dwight drove Betty and me up to the Red’s Meadow trailhead. Walking through the Rainbow Fire burn area was really spectacular. The fire was in 1992, I think, and now the area is much more full of life than the standing forest surrounding it. Hundreds of birds filled the sky– grouse, chickadees, juncos, song sparrows, woodpeckers, little brown birds that moved too fast for me to identify. Currant bushes were loaded with red ripe fruit, slightly sweet, watery and wild-flavored. Gooseberries everywhere. Young trees of all shapes and sizes, all evergreens. In another 20 years, it’ll be quite the little forest again. I didn’t expect the explosion of life that we experienced when we stepped into the burn area!
The rest of the day was mostly steady uphill through red fir forests to lodgepole pines and an occasional juniper. Eventually it opened up to views of Cascade Valley and Devil’s Top. We walked about 12 miles to Purple Lake, where I sit right now. There is a shaley face of possibly purplish rock across the lake, which may be how it got its name. It’s a little cold, and I am glad to have my warm wool cap with earflaps that Tom brought me, along with another knife. This one is a little Buck knife that snaps into a plastic scabbard and hangs from my pack by a mini-carabiner. I found it while hiking along the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho a few years back, and have never used it. So it’s finally getting a chance to be of service. It’s very sharp and nice, and perfect for spreading almond butter on crackers. Hope I don’t lose it, too!
When we started hiking this morning, the sky was blue as could be, and devoid of even the hint of clouds. But the clouds have been quickly overtaking us. They are gorgeous. Not quite threatening rain, but weather moves fast up here, and I feel like it could rain. I feel good. We met a young woman on the trail named Yellie. I don’t know if that was her “real” name or a trail name. She’s hiking the JMT solo. Seems there are a lot of women up here doing that. In fact, I wonder if there are more women than men? It may be as a consequence of so many people having read Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild” (I read it, liked it quite a bit). It’s at least an equal balance. Yellie filled us in on another young woman who had passed us going the other direction. Turns out that she (the second woman) had been trying to hike/run 35 miles per day on the JMT. She quit and turned back because she wasn’t having any fun and everything hurt. Hmmm… I can’t imagine why!
Looks like it’ll be a cold night. Time for both the silks and the woolies.