‘Lost’ In The Wilderness!
Not only were we awoken abruptly today by a cacophony of howling, which we assessed to be a pack of coyote in the valley, (possibly shouting about a kill).
But we also had a little bit of drama early morning on the trail when I actually got lost!
The calmness of this picture hides the stressful morning we had!
Day 8 – Rosalie Lake to Red Cones (11.7 miles) – Friday 5th September 2014 – ‘A Little Bit Of Drama’
It was after breakfast and we’d just packed up and left camp, heading for Red’s Meadow Resort to collect our second resupply parcel. We were in good spirits, already drooling at the thought of a giant burger and fries from the Mule House Cafe on-site at Red’s. After living off set rations, it was to be our first plate of non-hiker food in 8 days, and boy were we ready for a pig out! (More about that later).
Panorama of Rosalie Lake.
Now getting back to the ‘lost’ story… Usually only a few steps behind Wayne, today I must have been in a world of my own doing a spot of daydreaming as I hadn’t seen him turn up a switchback ahead. So there I was continuing on what I thought was the trail, when in fact I had walked straight off the JMT and along another backcountry path.
Half a mile later, with no sign of Wayne up front, I realised my mistake. So before panic set in, I turned around, and breathing heavily, backtracked to where I had last seen him. (You always remember being told as a kid to go back to the last place you were all together and stay put). Well it worked. Wayne was there, shouting my name and looking a little worse for wear, wondering what the hell had happened to me. He said he thought I’d fallen, hit my head and rolled down the cliff, or worse, been abducted at knife-point off the trail. (I think he’s been watching too many movies!)
But I have to admit I was a little scared. I’ve also never been so relieved to see someone in my entire life! And I think he felt the same. Be it tears of joy or tears of anguish, I didn’t stop blubbering for the next 10 minutes. All I could think was that if I had to make my way out of here alone, I didn’t even have a map. (How useful a map would be to me anyway is questionable as I can’t even read one!) We couldn’t believe it took literally a moment for us to become separated. Then it was 15 minutes of hell before all was good in the world again! The experience only emphasised to me how much I rely on Wayne for ‘everything’ out here and that I’d never cope in the wilderness on my own. Fair play to all of the female solo hikers we’ve seen out here – they truly are hardcore!
Beautiful early morning reflections.
Thankfully, with our drama now over, we got back on track, still thinking about that burger at Red’s. We had planned on a good evening meal there, then staying in the Red’s Backpacker Campground after collecting our second re-supply parcel. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out that way.
Before reaching Red’s, our morning hike took us on a lake trail once again. We passed Gladys, Vivian, Trinity and Johnston Lakes, which we could see were all a little lower because of the drought, but none-the-less stunning.
Enjoying today’s lake trail.
Not a cloud in the sky!
The thoughts of a burger and fries keep us focused on reaching our destination!
A lodgepole pine tree that has been uprooted. The sheer size is overwhelming.
It was then onto Devil’s Postpile National Monument, a slight detour off the JMT on the way into Red’s.
Veering off the JMT and entering Devil’s Postpile National Monument.
More scenic views.
Devil’s Postpile National Monument is an unusual rock formation of columnar basalt.
Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.
Having a spot of lunch at the picnic area. Wayne also checks on our route using Erik The Blacks John Muir Trail Atlas.
A friendly ‘Stella Jay’ tries to join us for lunch!
We reached Red’s Meadow around 1:30pm after having stopped for lunch in the picnic area at Devil’s Postpile. To our disappointment, the Mule House Cafe was closing at 2:00pm so we wouldn’t get our beloved burgers for dinner. We took it on the chin and resigned ourselves to the fact we’d just have to wait until we got to VVR (Vermilion Valley Resort) three days later. Although we did treat ourselves to a bottle of beer from the General Store to ease the pain.
Red’s Meadow Store where we collected our second re-supply food parcel.
The front of Red’s Meadow Store – complete with hiker bins outside.
Then it was like a game on ‘The Krypton Factor’ (children of the 80’s will know what I’m talking about) trying to cram as much food into our bear canisters as we possibly could to last us until Day 16! It was out with the trail mix once again. We also ditched a few bags of porridge and did some swapsies in the ‘Hiker Bin’ picking up some more packet tuna and unbelievably a packet of ‘Spam’! (Our die-hard foodstuff from the Pennine Way!)
Organising our food rations into daily sets after collecting our second food re-supply parcel.
Voila! We’ve only got all this to fit into our two bear canisters.
Wayne looks in the hiker barrel for any ‘swapsies’!
Yippee! Some extra packets of tuna and a packet of ‘Spam’!
After all that hard work, we enjoy our first beer on the JMT!
Another great find from the hiker barrel! ‘Steak Strips’ (similar to jerky) which we devour as we definitely need the protein!
Out comes the bottom lip as the ‘Mule House Cafe’ is closed for dinner.
It was then time to get back on the trail. (As the campsite at Red’s Meadow would have cost us $22 and the cafe was closed so we couldn’t get a burger for dinner, we decided to move on).
So it was a stifling hot four mile hike in the afternoon sun, carrying full bear canisters, up long switchbacks out of Red’s Meadow to reach Red Cones, our camp spot for the night. For a large part of the hike there isn’t any shade either as there has been a severe forest fire, so now most of the trees are just burnt trunks.
Leaving Red’s Meadow we face a very hot hike up to Red Cones.
There isn’t any shade due to a large scale forest fire.
A little ‘trail bandit’ we spotted near to where we decided to camp.
As soon as we got to Red Cones and crossed the creek we set up camp, eager to off-load our heavy packs. It was then that we were surprised by three deer who came right past us on their way to the creek for a drink. They lingered around our campsite area for quite a while which gave us the chance to get some great photos. Their presence really lightened our mood and made us completely forget about our disappointment over dinner (or lack of it). Instead, we made do with one of our hiker food favourites – creamy Thai flavoured noodles with chicken. Not a bad substitute.
Finally we find some shade. Our camp spot near Red Cones.
Thai chicken noodles are on the menu tonight!
A family of mule deer wander through our campsite!
After such an eventful day, it wasn’t hard to sleep. Despite camping on our own with no other hikers nearby (they were all merrily drinking whiskey around the campfire back at Red’s) we are worrying less and less about bears. Especially since meeting a guy along the trail who told us he’d hiked the JMT three times and never once seen a bear. Unlucky! We really do hope to see one at some point.
We’re still on the look-out…