The Legend of OneBoot: Days 8 and 9 on the John Muir Trail

First, thank you for your patience! I have been hiking a lot, working a lot, and staying very busy lately. But I have to remember not to neglect my blog. This is a great outlet and resource, and I need to keep the content coming. Up to this point in my journey, I’ve exited Yosemite, lost a boot, and met many awesome people.

Waking up on the morning of Day 8 at Thousand Island Lake, I got everything situated, had breakfast, and made my way to Red’s Meadow. I didn’t see Greg or Kendall, so I continued solo. The hiking was pretty difficult in sandals, as my feet were still beat up from the day before, but I charged ahead!

The first lake I came to, Garnet Lake, was beautiful with more views of Banner and Ritter. However, the terrain was very sharp and rocky, making travel precarious. I took multiple breaks, attempting to take in the scenery despite the pain, and carried on my way.

Beautiful Views, but Tough on the Feet!

At the outlet of the lake, I made a wrong turn. I thought I was supposed to follow the outlet of the lake instead of continuing along the perimeter. Soon, travel grew even rockier, and the trail began to vanish. Oh no! There were people behind me as well, and I felt like I had misled them. Eventually, they found the correct way, and we marched on. Yay for helpful people!

As we began to ascend again, I came up behind this hiker, and she was booking it. We got stopped by a trail maintenance crew, and they asked if we had a permit and bear can. Of course I did! And I didn’t know you had the authority to check such things? But he was pleasant, so I made pleasantries and continued on.

I said hi to the girl in passing, and we kept leapfrogging, taking breaks and such. The descent was starting to hurt my feet and legs, but eventually, I reached my next landmark, the Shadow Lake trail junction. I decided to have lunch, grab water, and appreciate the surging river at this point. I had to take nature in, especially on such a challenging day!

Checking Out the Surging River During Lunch!

Then, the real climbing started. One thing I noticed, was that the amount of people I saw steadily decreased as I got farther from Thousand Island Lake. I soon realized, that the Pacific Crest Trail takes a high route to Red’s Meadow, and that many people probably took that trail to avoid elevation change. It would have been nice, but I got to see some awesome things on my route, the official John Muir Trail!

I kept climbing, up to Rosalie Lake, then to Gladys, before starting the holy descent to Red’s Meadow. The climb kicked my ass, but on the way down I passed by a pleasant couple that would later become dear hiking buddies. I told them my boot story, exchanged laughter, and continued on.

Eventually, I needed to take a break, and the couple passed me, but I met another couple heading to Red’s as well. We stopped near a shady creek crossing to rehydrate and I knew that I was almost there. I could taste it! Soon, more day hikers from Mammoth passed through. One of them had a cute Toy Poodle, which shocked me, especially in the wilderness! We were definitely getting close to civilization.

A couple of the trail intersections confused me, especially at Devil’s Postpile, but by this time, I was running down the trail, wanting to get in to get my resupply before everyone went to sleep!

Exiting the Postpile, I knew I was almost to Red’s, but the day kept dragging on. I started cussing out the sky, asking everyone I passed if they knew how close I was. I’m sure I intimidated some people, but at long last, I made it to the backpacker campground, running into some familiar faces. I made it!

Amidst the Stress, there was this Post Pile!

There were a ton of people at camp, and I started introducing myself. I felt a little out of place as many of the groups seemed like they had been hiking with one another for a while, but I immersed myself and enjoyed the company.

I had a tough time finding a level spot to camp, but paid the site attendant and raked in the dough from everyone else chipping in. People seemed so grateful that I fronted the money. How cool!

Then, I went to get my resupply, along with a soda. Soda! I hadn’t had any since Tuolomne Meadows, and Diet Dr. Pepper was pretty amazing. I met a couple other hikers, we went through our resupplies, and I headed back to camp for dinner. The trail to and from camp, was tough single-track, especially in sandals, but I handled it.

At dinner, I told most everyone my boot story, and got the trail name “OneBoot”. A couple of the girls said I was their hero for continuing on, which made me feel like a badass. Actually, I am a badass, living an awesome life. Screw being “like” a badass!

One of the Canadian girls was trying to kill her giant fuel canister and was shocked at my dinner portion, which made me self-conscious, but oh well! She told me about how she worked for an outdoor company and that Scarpa was more known for hiking than for mountaineering in Canada, hence her gear. The more you know, I guess!

I got to hear a few of the PCT hiker stories and other people’s trials. I reminisced with the Canadians about the encounter I had soon after losing the boot. It was a good night, and I was ready for a shower, some laundry, and new boots the next day.

After I got back from the showers, we hung out at camp, laughing and snorting into the night. It was the closest I had felt with people in a while, and I loved it. I had trouble sleeping that night, due to the caffeine, but I managed 😃

The next morning, I got up early to take the shuttle in to Mammoth Lakes to get my boots. I said farewell to the group of guys and the Canadians. They told me that their goal was to get to Vermilion Valley Resort by July 4th. Maybe I could catch them!

Transportation wasn’t too tough, and after a little walk, I found myself at the post office. I get up to the clerk, and she tells me that there was no package for me. WHAT?!?!

I called REI to complain and get a status update. I was floored with anger and frustration. The San Francisco store couldn’t figure out who helped me, and after a couple hours of frustration and being put on hold, they told me that the boots were shipped via UPS to a Post Office and that because of the holiday, they wouldn’t arrive until after the 4th of July.

That was unacceptable, so after more time being put on hold, I negotiated with them to return the boots and refund my money. I would have to buy new boots in Mammoth. Damn!

Getting to Mammoth Mountaineering, I walk in and the clerk wasn’t too helpful with helping me to find replacement boots (my attitude was probably poor at this point, to their defense). The only boots compatible with my crampons were 500 dollars and way too rigid for what I needed. So I ended up going with a regular hiking boot, microspikes, and insoles. Out the door, the cost was comparable to what my discount would have been from REI for the mountaineering boots, so that sucked. But I bucked up and continued with my journey.

I proceeded to have lunch at a Mexican Restaurant, catch up with people in the outside world, and head back to Red’s. En route, I met this PCT hiker who had also done the Appalachian Trail. His experience and stories were entertaining, until I realized that I had left my daypack and sunglasses at the mountaineering store. Shit!

So I had to buy another shuttle pass, and rush back to town, hoping I would be back in time to catch the final bus to Red’s. I made it and was able to settle into camp, socialize with the new crew rolling in that afternoon, grab dinner and go to sleep. It was my ninth day on trail (despite a zero day), many adventures had been had, and many more were to come.

Thank you for following along with my story. I’ll have a hot sauce review up for your viewing pleasure soon. Thank you for your continued support of my life’s journey.

Remember, take a hike and spice up your life!

-Doug

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