8/29/09; Distance Traveled = 14.4 miles
I wake up, but lie in bed not wanting to disturb my roommates. I hear the hum of the generator so I know it is sometime after 6 o’clock. Before long Ross and Marti are whispering, and then Art stirs. And though morning has come I can’t resist lying in bed for just a few more minutes.
Soon we are all about and packing our gear. Ross and Marti ask why Art and I do not line our packs. They use compactor bags; a necessity on the rainy AT. I do not even carry a pack cover; I cover up with a poncho if it rains. We talk about how much drier and milder the weather in the Sierra is.
The restaurant is packed and we scatter among open seats. I sit with Ryan and Kevin, both JMT thru-hikers. I know of Kevin from his backpackinglight.com postings. Ryan I learn is a regular as well. They already have their food.
I copy Ryan’s pick: the VVR version of an Egg McMuffin, it is twice as big and twice as good as the McDonald’s version, pancakes, bacon, and coffee.
Ryan and Kevin are debating whether to ride the ferry and hike the JMT up the Bear Ridge switchbacks or to hike from VVR on the Bear Ridge Trail; the choice of Blake, Mark #2, and Dale. They decide on the JMT. Kevin has 11 more day hiking. BTW he finished; you can read his JMT trip report here. Ryan plans to finish in 8 more days, next Saturday, same as me. I suggest we camp atop Mt Whitney next Friday with the full moon. I detect some interest.
The ferry doesn’t leave until 9:00 allowing for a leisurely breakfast that for me includes 4 cups of coffee and half gallon of water. Bladder full I settle my charges with Jim, get some change, and while at it mail the fanny pack home. Back at the room I finish packing. Art and I walk to the ferry landing, further out than yesterday afternoon as water levels continue to drop. We board at 9:00 sharp. VVR was a good time. Amazing how rejuvenating food, bed, and shower can be.
The ferry arrives at the east landing around 9:30. Andrew and Lauren are waiting there. It is good to see them. They are taking the entire day off.
We say goodbye to Ross and Marti, and then Art, Dale, Kevin, and I start hiking. We part ways with Art at the Lake Edison junction. I have his business card and will send him links to my pictures, and eventually my trip report. Who knows, perhaps we’ll meet again.
Kevin, Ryan, and I start up the Bear Ridge switchbacks; depending on what you call a switchback, there are at least 50 of them. About halfway up I leave Ryan and Kevin behind; they are weighed down with their resupplies. Eventually I reach the Bear Ridge Trail junction and stop for lunch.
I sit there an hour or so, waiting for Ryan and Kevin, when Blake comes walking up the Bear Ridge Trail having left VVR the same time as the ferry. The ferry + JMT is evidently faster should anyone care to know, and IMHO the Bear Ridge switchbacks are not loathsome, at least first thing in the morning they aren’t. Blake’s friend Mark is well back on the trail, hampered by blisters. Blake is not waiting for him, rather he wants to get to Rose Marie Meadow and claim a campsite. Mark to get there when he gets there.
I’d rested long enough so start hiking with Blake. Blake is a super fit marathon runner. Man, does he hike fast. He works for 3M and I am interested to learn he does integrated circuit die stacking process development; Die Thinning and Through Silicon Vias. He is also a walking gear test laboratory, having access to some of 3Ms new thin film technologies. His raingear is of a new Tyvek-like, Micropore-like fabric. And more, his wife works for General Mills. Several of his breakfasts are a new whole grain cereal they are testing. After 3 miles or so he stops to cook up some lunch. I am grateful for the break and wait on him. As we get ready to leave along comes Ryan. It is his turn to stop for awhile.
Blake and I blast up the next section of trail. Once past the Hilgard Branch Bear Creek the trail enters a series of 200-300’ climbs between small meadows. The first few are mostly forest covered. Along this stretch there are occasional good views of Seven Gables. At last we arrive at Rose Marie Meadow. Blake departs for a forested camp site a few hundred feet west of the trail. I wait for Ryan. Hiking with Blake destroyed me.
I wait and wait, and again no Ryan. I again grow impatient and continue, but take the final 1½ miles to Marie Lake very slow. Marie Lake is yet another beautiful lake, and quite large. I find a nice sheltered campsite in the slabs west of the trail. From time to time I hear voices, but never see anyone. Marie Lake, while large is quite shallow, and relatively speaking provides warm swimming. The swim hastens recovery.
Marie Lake, north half
Tonight is only my second camping above the tree line. I wait anxiously for the evening light show and it is a wonder. Enormous sundials: Mt Senger, Gemini, and Seven Gables; the sunlight rises slowly to, hangs a moment at, and then vanishes from their topmost pinnacles. Minutes later all are bathed with resplendent alpenglow; which at first intensifies, and then gradually submits to darkness and starlight.