Muir Trail Ranch. The hot springs were wonderful. I got 2 soaks, 2 showers, barbecued spare ribs, green beans and salad, and an awful dessert I wish I hadn’t eaten (strawberry short Twinkie!). I didn’t sleep well on the too-soft bed in our tent cabin, waking often very thirsty (and then having to get up and pee of course).
Late start out of MTR, hanging around the resupply awning divvying up the load. It’s a real haven for hikers passing through, as people leave all this stuff behind, and anyone is able to go through the buckets of food (a whole bucket of oatmeal, a giant jar of Nutella, a very heavy glass water bottle), first aid supplies, clothes and miscellany, and take what they want, as long as they are willing to carry it out.
I finally fixed my Aqua Clip on my water bottle so that it doesn’t squeak anymore. Every step I took for miles on end, it was saying “er-uh, er-uh, er-uh, er-uh,” until it was driving me crazy. A little carefully-placed duct tape, and the sound has disappeared. Now it just gives an occasional leather saddle-type squeak, which is sort-of pleasant. Thanks to Steve from Indiana for the duct tape!
While sitting in the laundry line, we ran into Richard, the guy last seen at the Garnet Lake mishap. He was feeling a little guilty about leading me down the wrong path, and glad to see us again. He met up with his brother, who had passed a kidney stone and decided to head home. So he’s boogying through the rest of the miles alone to get back home to his wife and three sons. Being on the trail by himself didn’t seem like the way he wanted to spend his vacation.
Walking up into Kings Canyon National Park is beautiful. I’ve always wanted to go there, and now finally here I am. A hot day, the hottest yet, I think. First, a nice long easy climb along the San Joaquin River, and then a steep (but not too long) set of switchbacks up into Evolution Valley. The climb was slow and steady, and actually pretty wonderful, because the steep face was liberally dotted with mountain junipers. I am in love with the junipers! Each one is a work of art, dead or alive, or half alive and clinging to the rocky slopes. I want to take a portrait of each tree. Plus, the views down the valley were splendid. Tonight we’re at Evolution Creek, after an 8.5 mile hike. The sun is just on the highest peaks now and it’s time to have some dinner.
A nice young German couple keep leap-frogging us. They are faster hikers, but for some reason we have seen lots of them and shared conversation and M&Ms. I met a photographer, Scott Serata, who is doing a series of portraits of people on the trail. He took my picture, and in talking, we discovered that we are both from Berkeley and have friends in common. Small world.
Life on the trail is pretty busy, really. Every day, we pack up our sleeping bags, put all our various things back in their proper places, take down our tents, make sure we have enough filtered water, and stuff everything into our packs in the correct order. Then we walk for hours on end, stopping for lunch and snacks and to filter more water. And to just set a spell. And at the end of the day we unpack, set up the tents, figure out what’s for dinner, eat, write in our journals, Betty sends a message to the outside world that all is well, we clean up, and it’s generally close to time to go to sleep. Not a lot of down time, really. Except compared to my regular life, it’s all down time of a sort. Even if I had brought an instrument, I wouldn’t have much time to play.