John Muir Trail - Day Nine

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We managed to fit in one more VVR meal before heading back to the trail. We packed up and made it to the restaurant at opening time, 7AM sharp. I had a couple cups of coffee, a half stack of blueberry pancakes, and scrambled eggs. Others had biscuits & gravy, breakfast burritos, bacon, hash browns, etc… the breakfast of champions! Over the course of the JMT trip I noticed I wrote a lot of detail about the food I ate since the mileage gave me such a huge appetite.

There are four options for returning to the JMT: hike around the lake or take the boat back to your starting point, or take a van to either the Bear Ridge or Bear Creek trailheads. If you are strict about hiking only on the JMT you’ll have to go back around the lake but almost no one at the VVR was taking that option. If you have extra time Bear Creek is supposedly very scenic but will add about 3.5 miles to your trip. Bear Ridge is about the same length as the JMT route so we opted to avoid the boat and extra dry lake mileage.

The van took us around the south end of Lake Edison and over to the Bear Ridge trailhead. We made sure to fill up our water completely at VVR because there are no reliable options for more than 5 miles. Once again, getting back on the JMT was straight uphill with 2250’ of gain. At times it was very steep and I could feel my huge breakfast weighing me down. Overall though my legs felt great after having a rest day. The climb went by faster than I expected and we quickly made it to the Bear Ridge Junction [92.6 mi, 9870’]. We continued on for lunch at along the creek at Bear Creek Junction [94.8 mi, 8940’]. We made a point to really feast since we were planning a resupply at Muir Ranch the next day. I had tuna, a tortilla, trail mix, and turkey jerky.

We continued past several junctions and stream crossings. Right around mile 100 my left boot sole delaminated in the front. I was definitely overdue for a new pair of boots before we started the JMT but I had such good luck with them (no blisters!) that I was afraid to get new ones. Fortunately, I was hiking with Kristen and she had some duct tape handy for a quick repair. It held together well enough to get to what would be my favorite campsite of the entire trip – Marie Lake [100.7 mi, 10550’] which is just under Selden Pass. The lake is unbelievably gorgeous in an open basin above the tree line, filled with islands and surrounded by peaks which made for a colorful sunset. Jason even caught a trout which we turned into fish tacos.

It felt good to be back on the trail after a day off, especially putting down decent mileage!