The Legend of OneBoot: Days 17 and 18 on the John Muir Trail

Hello! First, let me start with a moment of gratitude. Many of my friends and family have been supporting me on my journey to the Pacific Crest Trail. Also, Sawyer Products and nuun Hydration have sent me a bunch of product to keep me hydrated, bug protected, and sun protected (their logos are now at the bottom of every page on my site, and product reviews will be posted on YouTube soon). I never thought that I would receive so much love and support from the hiking community, and it’s pretty awesome to see how the world responds positively when you follow your passions. Thank you, the reader, especially for reading my blog, following my journeys, and encouraging me along the way. Now, let’s get back to days 17 and 18 on the John Muir Trail last summer!

I woke up the morning of my 17th day in the cabin at Muir Trail Ranch quite chilly. It wasn’t too bothersome, and at least I got a solid night’s sleep! At breakfast with Bobby and the boys, someone said there were more blankets under the bed. Damn! I guess you live and learn πŸ™‚

After a basic breakfast, we packed up and got ready to go in clean clothes. We made one last stop at the hiker bins, and weighed our packs. Bobby’s was over 60 pounds, and mine was over 50. This was definitely going to be an interesting 10-11 days to complete our trip! I was carrying the most food I had carried the whole trip, and I could definitely feel it. Everyone was comparing pack weight, and I realized my ego was quite involved and it didn’t feel good… Maybe I should act accordingly!

As we set off from the ranch, we passed by the cabin that John Muir lived in. It was a cool little nugget of Sierra history πŸ™‚ We kept charging ahead and were making awesome pace.

Eventually, we emerged from the forest in a canyon of granite, with a rushing river below. We were getting pretty tired, so we breaked for lunch. Our goal was to get to McClure Meadow, but we would see how we fared.

A view of the canyon after leaving Muir Trail Ranch
The rushing river in the canyon after Muir Trail Ranch

As we charged on, we came up to our first gate. We thought that was the wrong way, so we looked around for a bit, before being reassured by other hikers that the gate was the right way. Cool!

Walking through the canyon was beautiful, but I started losing steam as we climbed toward the Evolution Creek crossing. We stopped for a break, and got to see a beautiful, unnamed waterfall with cool whirlpools at the base. Here, we ran into another hiker. He was trucking along fine with his ultralight gear. He was a cool guy, but I was jealous of his gear. At least I can tweak my gear as I evolve in my hiking career!

Beautiful waterfall below the Evolution Creek crossing!

We made the final push, and came up to Evolution Creek. Fear set in, as I knew this was another big creek crossing, but I just put my sandals on and handled it. No big deal! Bobby, the boys, and a few other hikers made it and we took a break soaking our feet in the Creek. It was an awesome moment.

The water wasn’t as high as I was expecting at Evolution Creek

Getting back on the trail, we walked over some more sketchy log crossings and came across a perfect campsite. It was creekside with rock benches and a fire pit already established. We wanted to push further, but we all agreed that we were tired, and this looked pretty perfect, so we set up camp.

Winding tributaries and sketchy crossings after Evolution Creek

The boys happily fished as we waited for John and his son JJ to come up the trail. Bobby met them earlier and was hoping to catch them. Then, they showed up! It was an awesome family affair of awesome wilderness camping.

I was really stoked to chat with John, make small talk, and talk about the big life questions. We talked about my plans after the trail, and discussed teaching / where I would move to. It was like having another positive role model enter my life. It felt nice. He also encouraged me to do the PCT, which reaffirmed the idea in my mind πŸ™‚

As we sat around the campfire, we ate, laughed, shared stories and absorbed the joy of the evening. We were up pretty late, but eventually got to sleep. I savor these joyful nugget moments, because they make the struggle so worth it.

Myself, happy as a clam after setting up camp

The next morning, we woke up later than expected, but eventually Bobby told me to start hiking. We decided Wanda Lake, below Muir Pass, would be a good camp spot. So I set off. I felt a little weird no hiking with them, but maybe it was a good thing.

Ambling over the shifting elevation in the forest, I passed by a few PCT hikers, and some other hikers, too. Pleasantries were exchanged, but nothing of significance. As the climb to Evolution Lake started, fatigue set in. I was really struggling, and hadn’t really stopped to drink water.

Beautiful granite peaks as I left the forest, climbing toward Evolution Lake

As I kept climbing, I passed a woman and asked her if I was almost at the lake. Desperation crossed my face and the woman said that I was almost there. Yeah right! I was hoping Bobby, John, and the boys were close behind. In that moment, having partners to vent to would have been nice.

Reflecting back, the alone time is what I need. I need to learn how to self-soothe. I need to learn how to not lose my shit when things get tough. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

Finally, I got to Evolution Lake, and it was beautiful! Marmots were running around, but all I could think about was eating and hydrating, like the marmots. I slammed my pack down, filtered some water, and ate lunch.

Finally made it to Evolution Lake!

After lunch, I laid down for a few minutes, hoping my buddies would show up. They didn’t, so I packed up and took off. Wanda Lake didn’t look too far away on the map, so I started climbing again. By this point, I was out of the forest, and the scenery quickly changed to jagged granite outcrops. Beautiful!

During the ascent, nature called. I really wanted to get to camp, but I had to listen. The bummer was that the soil was really hard, so it was a struggle constructing my toilet. I eventually got things handled, and went back to my pack that was carelessly thrown close to the trail.

The sun started to set, and the crest I came up revealed a lake that wasn’t Wanda Lake. Damn! At least there was a cool waterfall to look at πŸ™‚ I still had further to go. So I trudged, and eventually saw it. Rock outcrops, a beautiful lake, and almost no vegetation. This was awesome! It looked like another planet.

Waterfall, if you can call it that, below Wanda Lake

I found a perfect campsite, but a PCT couple was already there. Damn. Fortunately, they said they were leaving soon, so I could take the spot. Cool! Hopefully everyone would fit! I asked our neighbor if a tent could fit there, and he said yes. We were covered!

The first camp spot I scoped out for Wanda Lake

A little while later, Bobby, John and the boys showed up. They found a spot further up trail that could fit us more suitably. I was disappointed that my spot wasn’t good enough, and I was exhausted, but I obliged and ended up liking the new spot, too πŸ™‚

By this point, the sun was almost gone, and the way the sky and mountains reflected on the lake was breathtaking. We all took some photos, had dinner, and chatted with the neighbors. I didn’t do much of the chatting (I tend to stay reserved in the presence of socially powerful people), and I felt awkward, closed off from the group, but it didn’t change my outlook on the night.

The reflection as night fell on Wanda Lake was beautiful!
John and I in front of Wanda Lake before heading to bed.

Muir Pass, the scary one with all the snow, was the next morning. I was nervous, but my body had gotten me this far! The boys were excited, too, and I fed off that. Everything was going to be just fine.

Thank you for following my journey! I’m planning to finish this series by the time I leave for the Pacific Crest Trail on May 11th.

Thank you so much for your support! Remember, take a hike and spice up your life!

– Doug

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