240/365: Cookie Monster.

Editor's Note: The following is pulled from the journal that I kept while hiking the John Muir Trail this past month. I'll post each entry, each day, for the next few weeks. If you are just tuning in, you can go to the first day of the journal here.

Friday, July 30th.  No entries for the last two days.  Wednesday morning, we got up early, but not as early as hoped for, and set out at 6:30 to hike seven miles before 9am. Pace was fast as it could be, lucky it was almost all downhill, though some of that was so steep that it slowed us down more. Couple dicey river crossings, but made them safely. Last 1.4 was real fast, never jogging, just speed hiking.

Made it to Edison Lake at 9:02. Whole crew was there, Cookie, Babu, Ashley and Sam, Biaa, Beach and Bearclaw, swimming and soaking in the sun. Ferry didn't show till 9:45, long enough for us to go for a swim and for me to lose my eye glasses in the lake. Had a bit of a freakout, but have 2 sets of contacts that will have to get me to NC and thru an eye exam. Embarrassed that it happened right at such a triumphant moment. Felt like an idiot, tried to find them, but couldn't see shit underwater. No goggles at Vermillion, no where, so never went back to search. Born free, and so they shall return.

The Tres Penitos: Biaa, Bearclaw, Beach, and Babu Simba looking out on Lake Edison

Ferry to Vermillion was amazing. Beautiful lake, nice to be on a boat! Things got better up at Vermillion, as we had breakfast (3 eggs, hashbrowns, english muffin, bacon, and coffee!) and hung out with the whole crew. Hung out at tent for hikers, then down to Lake Shore. One free beer per hiker, but they used a tally for entire stay, so grabbing more beer was way too easy. Lots of good stuff too.  Played horseshoes with Cookie (using THREE shoes apiece, apparently Boston does too, and we in NC must just be poor). Won with a ringer. Dip in lake, more beer. Folks working there over the summer were nice, had a bit of an island community. I asked what it was like to live in this small group, and they asked if I'd ever read Lord of the Flies, haha. Said they already had Piggie picked out.

Lake Edison as viewed from Vermillion Ranch.

Sat and ate dinner with the Russians, as we call them, who had passing English, enough to make the conversation challenging but very fun. The rest of the crew was inside, drinking all the wine that the place had in stock, in decreasing shelf height. Babu even sent a bottle out to us, what a guy! Double-fisted the cab sav and my beer, yummy.

Next day, had braindead morning, but killer breakfast, porkchop, eggs, hashbrowns, pancakes, Bri's bacon, Sunrise's sausage, coffee. Missed 9am ferry, so took Bear Creek Trail to join JMT,  about 10 miles with cut-off trail. Brutal day, hot, tired, sweating out alcohol. Had a nice swim in Bear Creek, but uphill was so hot it made you forget how cold the water was. Finally got back on a buggy JMT and set up the tent near the Russians. Passed out hard after some Pastini with alfredo and cheese.

Today, early rise, nice hiking past Bear Creek, several river crossings with higher water, many people stopping to take off shoes. I left my boots on for all, barely felt any moisture penetration. Hate to deboot for a 10 ft crossing! Was hungry as hell after yesterday's stomach-stretcher breakfast, so by 9:30 we had stopped, and I cooked a pouch meal that I had salvaged from Babu's giant mail drop.  Hiked up a bit, after SamAshley and Cookie caught us and passed, but waited with Cookie for Babu to show. Finally he did, and we shot up to Marie Lake, and took a long break with everyone. Then Selden Pass, another lake timelapse, and the beautiful section coming off Selden, like a wild west canyon with waterfall and rock faces on either side.

Marie Lakes viewed from Selden Pass

Stopped at Upper Sallie Keys Lake, with great windy campsite over water, but I hiked on without pack to find the Russians and a calmer, beautiful campsite area on the lower lake, full of fish. No luck on the fishing, but we don't have the right bait, so oh well. Getting hungry, but still very early. Will hike out early to hit Muir Ranch and some hot springs, and possibly see our other friends for the last time, before they shoot ahead of us permanently.

The Summit Crew, before we knew we were, at the Hiker Tent on Vermillion Ranch.

Marie Lake Rest Panoramic, click to view larger.