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Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby CAMERONM » Wed Jan 17, 2018 7:55 pm

The journal approach makes for an enjoyable read. Looks like a perfect fun trip.



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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:18 pm

tomba wrote:Reading the report as journal entries makes me feel like I was there.

Do you write the journal on paper?


Thanks. Yes, I do, at least for this trip. Each evening, I was writing it on the back of the maps I used for that day (printed on regular 8 1/2x11 paper off CalTopo and, except for whatever I'm using for navigation that day, kept in a ziplock bag in my pack to keep them dry). I write the journals for myself. I enjoy reading them and remembering the trip. But, now I feel inspired to finish this report/journal.
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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:52 pm

Day 10

Day 10 has come to an end, and I am camped just a couple of miles south of MTR near the Florence Lake Trail junction. After a decent 16 mile day, the afternoon thunder showers started, just as I got to this campsite. I quickly set up my tent, tossed my pack inside and hurriedly filled my squeeze bag with water, so I would have some water while I wait out the rain. Fortunately, the cloud burst was quickly over, and I was able to fill my water bottles. I met two guys from North Carolina, Michael (not Mike) and Nick. They had started at Roads End in SEKI, and like me, they were not “doing the JMT”, just using it as a route down to MTR for a resupply before heading up to the Mammoth crest and eventually north to Yosemite.
Morning view from camp on Darwin Bench.jpg

The day started off icy outside and inside my tent. I left the tarp open on one side, but still, damp cold air coated both the inside and outside of my tarp with ice as well as my bear canister for the second night in a row. I got going as early as I could get my old joints moving leaving most of my gear in camp as I headed up to Darwin Lakes Basin. I met four guys who had hiked by my camp site the evening before during the thunderstorm. They had camped near the outlet of Darwin Lake 5 and were still having breakfast and packing up for the short hike out over Lamark Col to North Lake. After a short steep climb up some talus and around a cliff, I came to a big ice field between Darwin Lake 5 and Lake 4. From the top of the crest, I could see the string of Darwin Lakes and had awe inspiring views of the north side of Mt Mendel, which is even more impressive than the south side that most people are familiar with from the JMT. Once again, I decided not to continue, even though I could have climbed up and around this ice field. I just didn’t think that I had the time. I plan to be back though, maybe next year, either entering or exiting over Lamark Col and through the Darwin Lakes Basin.
Mt. Mendel and Darwin Lake 5.jpg

Darwin Lakes.jpg

Looking Back From Darwin Lakes.jpg

I made my way back to camp, passing the four guys just as they were leaving camp. Once back at camp, I decided to have a tuna burrito for second breakfast/first lunch. As I was having lunch and drying out my equipment in the sun, Carl passed by. He was just finishing up seven days in the Sierra, and we talked about where each of us had been. Carl told me about McGee Lakes just over the ridge to the north of Davis Lake and west of Sapphire Lake. He agreed that Davis Lake is beautiful from afar, but he warned me that it was one long talus scramble around the lake. He recommended just looking at Davis Lake and either working my way north along the ridge to another saddle where I could drop down to the McGee Lakes or crossing over a saddle point to the west of Sapphire Lake and dropping into the McGee Lakes Basin. From the lakes, you can follow the outlet creek all the way down McGee Canyon to Colby Meadow and the JMT if you want.
After spending way too much time talking to Carl, I finished packing up camp and headed back down to the JMT where I tried to cheer on all of the JMTers headed south. I got mostly positive responses. I took second lunch at the Evolution Creek crossing where I got a shocked look from a backpacker who was switching to “water shoes” while I just plowed across the creek without breaking stride. I saw one guy with a very light pack that didn’t even have a hip belt. He surprised me though when he took off his trail runners and socks before wading barefoot across the creek. Personally, I have a hard time walking bare foot on the river cobble, and I have no problem with getting trail runners wet since they dry out so fast anyway. Once I got down to Colby Meadow, I began making good time. I saw a group of six hikers at the Goddard Canyon Trail junction and decided that I needed to stay in front of them if I wanted a camp site at the Piute Creek Bridge, so no more breaks for me.
I stayed ahead of them for a couple of hours, when all of a sudden a guy about my age caught up to me and passed me. Shortly after, I caught up to him as he waited at the Piute Creek Bridge and we talked for a few minutes. He was part of that group of six, and was waiting for the rest of them to catch up. While there are many campsites near the bridge, several were already taken, and in at least two instances, the campers had taken two tent sites by realllllly spreading out their gear. I decided to continue on, praying that it wouldn’t start raining before I got to a site near the Florence Lake Trail junction. The clouds were building up ominously though, and looked like they might cut loose any minute.
As I drew near to the large campsite along the San Joaquin River, the smell of rain was in the air. I asked Nick if it was okay if I camped at a tent site near the tent he and Michael already had up. He told me to go ahead, and I had my tent up in under 5 minutes, just as it started raining. I got a little wet getting some water from the river – I had run out while trying to stay ahead of the group of six – but I stayed mostly dry – so pretty good timing as it turned out. Have a good day wherever you are and Get On the Trail!
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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:57 pm

Day 11 (No photos)

Joy of Joys! There was only a small amount of condensation in my tent this morning despite last night’s rain and being camped near the river. I had the Balyney warm springs to myself once again, and it was very relaxing to soak in them and feel clean for at least a little while. I did take a different route back across the river that was less than ideal. The water seemed swifter and was getting above my knees in a few places. The choice of foods at MTR wasn’t quite as good as the first time (no dehydrated pasta sauces, unfortunately), but I did score a couple of Cliff Bars and small packets of trail mix from someone who had just received their resupply. I also picked out an unopened jar of Skippy, Santa Fe dehydrated refried beans, and some dehydrated tomatoes.
I also met three guys who were hiking the JMT, Mike, Eric, and John. They had all started on the same day, but not together. Mike and Eric are more my speed; John’s an athlete. We slogged up the hill from MTR to Selden Pass, except for John; he seemed to glide. I was debating stopping at Marie Lake, and I’m glad that I did. I set up my tent then went down to the lake to rinse out some clothes and rinse myself off. When I got back, Eric and Mike had arrived and were deciding who would camp where. I had set up my tent in what I thought was the least desirable site, knowing that they were coming along shortly. The sky was threatening as I started my dinner, and I barely finished making it before the clouds let loose for an hour of solid rain.
A British lady, Cat, came into camp just after the storm had ended, looking very soaked. Much how I would have looked if I had continued hiking to the Seven Gables Trail. Mike, John, and I stood around shooting the breeze after the storm had cleared, while Eric found Cat’s company more to his liking. We’re all settled down for the night now. I set a new low in miles in a day at 8.5, but there was 3,500 feet of elevation gain, so not quite as decrepit as it sounds. Okay, it is as light of a day as it sounds, but I enjoyed the company of Mike, John, and Eric today.
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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:11 am

Day 12

I didn’t get much sleep last night (I am really missing an air mattress that stays inflated for more than a couple of hours), but still got up at 6:30 with the others. Mike and I talked for a bit before saying our final goodbyes. He Eric, and John were aiming to do back-to-back 17 mile days to set themselves up for an easy 5 mile hike into Red’s Meadow on Monday morning. My plan included a side trip to Seven Gable Lakes Basin and arriving at Red’s on Tuesday morning, so it was unlikely that our paths would cross again. Cat and Eric were around for a while longer, so we all enjoyed a nice conversation. Eric was the next to go, and I figured that I ought to pack up and hit the trail myself. I found out that Cat was an advertising account manager, who hadn’t really found her place. She was sick of the office politics at each of the firms she had worked at and wasn’t sure what she was going to do after she finished her hike. She had done some day hiking as well as longer walks in the Lake District and had completed the West Highland Way. After quitting her job, she said that she had considered hiking the PCT, but wisely decided that might be a bit too big of a jump up in difficulty and settled on the JMT instead. She was taking it easy today as she was over a day ahead of her planned schedule and actually had a cabin booked at MTR for the following day. I eventually said good bye and finally headed to Seven Gables at 8:30.
I enjoyed the walk to the trail junction, greeting each of the hikers that I met. At the Bear Creek crossing, a pair of hikers gave me the scoop on the JMT north of there (lol). I smiled and thanked them, letting them know that I was headed to the 7 Gables Lakes Basin. The guy got a confused look on his face, seemingly unable to comprehend a hiker who wasn’t just following the JMT. Most people on the JMT don’t seem able to comprehend someone hiking anywhere else in the Sierra it seems.
The trail up to Seven Gables was your typical Sierra trail initially. Then as I should have expected, it disappeared in a field of talus. I began rock hopping further up the drainage on the north side of the East Fork of Bear Creek, but it was becoming apparent that once again I hadn’t allowed enough time to get to Seven Gables Lakes and back in less than a day. While I had forgotten my map of the area, it was further than I remembered. I saw yet more and more talus ahead and decided to turn around, beaten but not broken (upon my return, I looked at a map, and it looked like I was no more than 1/2 mile from the first lake). The views were fabulous, and there was definitely less talus on the south side of the creek. I just didn’t see a good way to get over there. Once again, I’ll be back, next time with a better understanding of my off-trail pace.
View Back Over the Talus.jpg

More Talus Between Me and 7 Gables Lakes.jpg

Seven Gables.jpg

After returning to the JMT, I continued north towards Bear Ridge Trail. I had promised my stomach a stop at VVR (the main reason I turned around rather than change my plans for where I was camping that night). Soon after the Bear Creek Trail Junction, as I was climbing up to the Bear Ridge Trail, the unthinkable happened. While making my way up a muddy section of trail, I slipped…and fell! Now my right side was covered in mud. I had a small cut on my right hand and my ego was bruised. I met several hikers as I continued up until I finally stopped at a small stream and washed off my leg and boot and rinsed my shirt. I had a short period of misery but was fine by the time I got to the creek. Just before reaching the Bear ridge Trail, I had a nice conversation with a young lady from the Midwest (forgot her name) about the wonders to the south. I did 13 miles today and ate 2,400 calories. Back to my new normal it seems.
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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:18 am

Day 13 (11.6 miles, but no photos)

I got up early and tried to get ready quickly. I even skipped coffee! It was all to no avail as I didn’t hit the trail until 6:52. However, I did bust out the 6.3 miles to VVR in 2 hours and 16 minutes. The promise of a hot cooked breakfast was a strong motivator. I went with a breakfast burrito with a side of pancakes and three cups of hot, delicious, real coffee. After waiting an appropriate amount of time, I had a General Sherman IPA at 11:00, followed by a 20 oz. Pepsi. At 1:00, I had the 2/3 lb double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a 22 oz. General Sherman IPA. An hour or later I had a pepperoni stick and a second 20 oz. Pepsi before leaving for the 4:00 Ferry across Lake Edison.
I also found some time for talking in between all of the eating. I talked to “Papa Bear” a PCT through hiker, now in his late 60’s, who was hiking around the Sierra for a month and a half. He had a Six Moons Design Skyscape X, the 17 oz. cuben fiber version of the Skyscape Trekker that I have. He saw my SMD Fusion 65 pack and struck up a conversation with me. He said that he had a pack just like mine, but his daughter borrowed it and liked it so much that she kept it. I also had a long conversation with a family hiking the JMT southbound: Wade, his wife, Spiella, and her mother, Martina. Martina was visiting from Slovenia and had wanted to hike the JMT; so, over the winter and spring, Spiella planned the trip and got permits. Spiella handled the logistics while Wade was the “Sherpa”. He even hauled a bottle of champagne onto the trail to celebrate their wedding anniversary earning him the name "Champagne Sherpa".
While Spiella was sorting and packing their resupply, I noticed some interesting items. It turns out that they had done some foraging the past couple of days while hiking, picking some huge porcini and morelle mushrooms. Mom had made mushroom soup a couple of nights ago and they had used some more in their rice dish last night. Pretty cool, but not an area where I would trust myself to get it right. They had extra food and she offered me some. I passed on the instant cider and lowfat milk, but I was all over the oatmeal protein bars.
They were also playing a very old card game called Tarok that Wade, who plays cribbage like me, said is the best card game. Maybe I should look into this game. It sounds complicated – Wade said that it had a steep learning curve, but that usually means fun. I really liked this family, and I hope they have a wonderful hike.
Finally, I met a young couple, Loren and Andrew, from North Carolina while hiking up along Mono Creek towards Silver Pass. It was fun listening to her describe their trip so far and how they weren’t eating all of the food they had shipped. Evidently, they left a lot in the hiker’s bucket at Red’s Meadow. They are taking it slow (planned 24 days for the JMT) and enjoying the trail. The way it should be. I just ate some corn chips for dinner, bringing my daily total to about 5,600 calories, and I'm totally fine with that.
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Re: Way Too Long Hotsprings Hike Report, 8/15 - 8/29

Postby Lumbergh21 » Fri Jan 19, 2018 6:56 pm

Day 14

Silver Lake.jpg

Two weeks of hiking in the books. I slept in a little and didn’t hit the trail until a little after 8. As I lay there in my tent, I watched a conga line of hikers heading south on the JMT, probably hoping to make the 9:45 AM ferry across Lake Edison. I didn’t count how many hikers I met today, but it had to be over 100, old and young, short and tall, skinny and fat, male and female, all sorts of hikers. I spoke to another young couple on top of Silver Pass. At Squaw Lake on the north side of the pass, I spoke to two older gentleman who when I asked where they had started answered, “Campo.” They had started out doing the PCT, but left the trail at Kennedy Meadows in late May due to all of the snow. They ended up heading out to Colorado and hiking the 500-mile Colorado Trail, and loving it. Now they were back to hike the Sierra southbound from Lake Tahoe to Kennedy Meadows. They were less than 200 miles from having hiked 1,600 miles this year. They were relaxed and enjoying life unfettered.
Views to the Southwest.jpg
High Meadow North of Virginia Lake.jpg

Finally, I spoke with four older men where the JMT/PCT crosses the Duck Lake outlet creek. They seemed to be happy and enjoying life as well. A couple had questions for me about fishing after they saw the rod on my backpack. Then I was off to find a camp site for the night. All of the established camp sites were taken, so I found a site on a rock ledge with about one inch of soil over the solid rock just north of the crossing. The site was flat and far enough from the creek but still close enough to be convenient. I had to use deadmen to stake out the tent, but they were holding fine in the breezy weather. I made it 13.2 miles today on 2,700 calories. Just 11 miles to Red’s tomorrow, and for the first time in this hike, I feel like I have too much food, waaaay too much food.
Duck Lake Outlet.jpg


Day 15
I awoke at 6:00 to a starless sky, never a good sign while hiking. I quickly packed camp grabbing the few snacks that I had left and stuffing them in the help belt of my pack. I filtered water, filling both of my water bottles, then hit the trail back to Red’s Meadow, back to civilization. The day started with a short 1-mile climb, but was almost entirely downhill from there on. I decided to count how many people I met in the last 11 miles back to Red’s Meadow. First, I met a solo male hiker, then a tiny solo female hiker. I think her pack was nearly as big as she was. There were pairs of men, pairs of women, men and women, all of them headed to Whitney it seemed. I was actually surprised that there was no one still camped at Deer Creek when I arrived there around 8 AM. I stopped there, ate the last few handfuls of my trail mix, and enjoyed the silence of the woods. I enjoyed smiling at the hikers that I met and encouraging them, especially when they would smile back.
I had developed some pain on the outside of my right foot a few days ago, and it had grown to include my arch as well. The powdery tread of the JMT was adding to the fun by once again turning my socks into sand paper. Fortunately, I had time on my side and was able to stop a couple of times over the short 11 miles to Red’s Meadow and soak and rinse my feet in cool streams, which were not in short supply this year.
By the time I reached Red’s Meadow, I had counted a total of 34 hikers, most heading south. There had been 18 men and 16 women, a pretty even split, and a bit unusual if you believe the general wailing of how few women backpack. What was more interesting to me, once again given the generally held perception of backpacking, was that there were three solo males and five solo females. While this was a very small sample size, I hope it is indicative that more women are getting out on the trail than in the past. The more people that get out and enjoy the wilderness the better. Besides, in my entirely unscientific observations, it seems women are much better at practicing leave no trace. They seem to be much better at following the rules that are put in place to help ensure that everyone can enjoy the wilderness, both now and in the future. Maybe they are better at following rules in general, or maybe they actually get it. This wilderness is for all of us to enjoy. And, I hope that anyone who is reading this will get out on the trail and enjoy it.
Across the Canyon.jpg
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