Pacific Crest Trail Quest '08 - Page 14
My high camp was surprisingly warm last night. I don't think the temperature ever dropped
below freezing. I set out this morning across the snow to 12,000 ft. Muir Pass. I was
delighted to find a round stone hut at the top. I had no idea it would be there. From there,
it was 15 miles downhill to my much needed food resupply at Muir Trail Ranch.
The trail followed Evolution Creek, then the San Joaquin River as it plummeted down
steep canyons. There was a beautiful waterfall around nearly every bend. I did have to
cross Evolution Creek at one point, and the water was more than waist deep and freezing
cold. That would be a good place for a bridge.
I ate my last package of instant potatoes for lunch, and arrived at the trail leading to Muir
Trail Ranch a few hours later. I think I encountered more mosquitoes on the swampy one
and one half miles of trail leading to the Ranch than I ever have in my life. I had to run
most of the way to avoid being sucked dry.
The ranch was a few log buildings and a horse stable set in a small clearing in the
woods. They catered to rich horse people, not hikers, but they didn't officially open until
tomorrow, so I was the only one around. I rang the brass bell on the gate as the sign
requested, and a nice old lady let me in. I waited in the very small gift shop as she went
for my package.
She came back, package in hand, and said, "You know, there's a $50 fee for holding a
package?" I thought she was kidding, but she wasn't! $50!!!
I knew Gina was going to send money with my food to cover the package fee, so I opened
the box. Luckily, she had looked online and had seen the exorbitant fee, but sent it
anyway. I paid the lady and put back the can of Off I was going to buy, but she let me have
it for free. What a deal! The package holding fee at Kennedy Meadows was $2 a box.
That's reasonable. At least I have plenty of food now. And I learned a valuable lesson
about sending packages to places other than the Post Office. Needless to say, I didn't
rent a cabin at the Ranch.
I was going to skip the real food at Vermillion Valley Resort and push through to Mammoth
Lakes for a resupply in two days, but when I reached the side trail to Edison Lake and the
Resort, I had to turn. My stomach made me. It was an easy one and one half mile walk to
the lake where the resort runs a ferry boat the rest of the four and one half miles to the
store. Unfortunately, it was 1:30, and the next shuttle came at 4:45. I decided to walk.
I thought it would be a nice stroll along the lake, but the trail was steep and rocky. It was
all worth it when I reached the little resort. There was a general store, cafe, and some
cabins out back. The first beer was free for PCT hikers. I spent the afternoon eating and
talking to other hikers. I'm glad I stopped. I was overdue for some rest.
I bought a ticket for the 9 a.m. ferry and set down for breakfast. I finished my meal and
found out the 9 a.m. was full, but if some of us wanted to grab some beer and help launch
the 20 ft. pontoon, we could ride it across the lake on its maiden voyage for the year. It
was quite a project holding back tree branches and watching for rocks as the driver of the
pickup inched his way down the steep narrow road to the boat ramp.
It took a while, but we got it launched. Jim, the owner of the resort, hit the start button and
nothing happened. Dead battery. It was noon by this time, so I decided to take the rest of
the day off and try again in the morning.
I spent the afternoon helping out around the resort for free food and beer. I don't think I've
ever eaten as much in a single day as I have today. This sure is a nice change from Muir
The pontoon was ready to go at 9 a.m. I'd already eaten a giant breakfast burrito and a
Snickers, so I was ready for action. I rode out with 5 other hikers and 3 white water
Back on the trail, I proceeded to climb and climb to yet another high snowy pass where I
quickly became lost. An hour later I realized I was looking for the trail in the wrong canyon.
The only way to get to the right canyon and back on the trail was to cross 100 yards of very
steep slippery snow atop a very tall cliff. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done.
One slip, and I'd have fallen to my death. I kicked into the snow with each step and tested
every foothold before putting my full weight on it. Once safely across, I took a minute to
thank God I didn't die before heading on.
I plodded through the snow for a few more hours before finally dropping low enough to
resume good dry trail. I only have a few more snowy passes ahead of me. I'll be glad
when they're done.
I'm looking forward to getting to town tomorrow. The flooding in Iowa was all over the
news at the resort and I want to find out how everyone is doing.