JMT 2016: 3rd (4 days), Muir Trail Ranch to Reds Resort
Day 15: Our camp was in a backpacker pigsty about .25 miles from Muir Trail Ranch (MTR). It was a pigsty because behind every tree was a cluster of toilet paper and poop. Absolutely gross. We had breakfast, and headed over to the MTR entrance. MTR has a fence around it, and a gate that said “Open at 8, closed at 5” or something like that. We were on time, so we walked in. There were several log buildings there which were a shed for managing hiker buckets, an office, a dining hall, and a residence and some employee dorms. There was also a grassy area with a table and a shade tarp, and benches on one side with buckets filled with donated food from hikers.
The food was free to any hiker. There was a whole bucket of oatmeal, one for bars (granola, energy, breakfast, etc), one for Peanut butter, one for drinks, one for dinners. Maybe 10 buckets with food in them. There was also a corral, and stable, because MTR is primarily a horse ranch. People stay in the cabins, and go on horse rides with a cowboy and a bunch of other guests on horses.
We had reserved a tent cabin for Jim and I, and Luke and Ian had the neighboring tent cabin. The tent cabins has two beds, electricity, a wooden floor, and a small table. Super deluxe compared to sleeping with your face in the dirt. Jim and I took a shower first in a different small building, with hot water and soap! Then we took our clothes over to a clothes washing area where they had water in a hose, laundry soap, and some manual washing devices. The water ran brown out of our clothes for several wash cycles, and the clothes were “cleaner” but not “clean”. We hung up our clothes on a clothes line.
We had no plans till dinner time, when we heading to the dining hall with about 20 other paying guests. They don’t sell dinners to backpackers passing by, only to paying overnight guests, which we were. A kitchen crew of about 4 made the meal, which was turkey burgers, fries, and a salad. If they made burgers for passing hikers, they’d make a million bucks a day.
In the evening we went to the lodge and Jim found a guitar there, and played a few songs.
They had a fenced spa next to the dining hall, and the water was about 3′ deep, and maybe 106 degrees. That is HOT, but wonderful for short soaks. Jim went in at 1 am, and I woke up when he got back and went in at 2 am. Its was incredibly wonderful.
Day 16: We jumped out of bed to get the breakfast in the morning, and pigged out on blueberry scones, eggs and ham, coffee, and juice. They also had sliced bread and we made a sandwich for lunch on the trail. Then we headed to our cabins, and packed up and hit the trail.
The goal for the day was Selmer Pass, and the incredible Lake Marie on the other side of the pass. We heard a helicopter at a meadow on the way to Selmer Pass, and learned that an old guy had died of a heart attack, and his son had hiked in to see him off on the helicopter. The way up Selmer pass was gorgeous, and the view of Lake Marie was awesome.
Below, Lake Marie and scraggly Bob
When we got to Lake Marie, I was more tired than usual. I had picked up a cold, and was very fatigued from the cold. In camp I just lay down for awhile and Jim set up the tent and got some Miso soup in me. We had hiked about 8 miles to Lake Marie, and gained about 3000′ of elevation.
Day 17: We headed for Quail Meadow today, a 12 mile day.
From Lake Marie we headed down to Bear Creek, forded it, and continued along it for quite a while. Then we gained a heck of a lot of elevation to cross the waterless Bear Ridge, Then then down the other side for what seemed like forever. We crossed Mono Creek on a nice steel bridge, and then instead of taking a left to Quail Meadow, we took a right and shortly found a camp in the woods. The Wilnerds, whom we had not seen all day, found us shortly before dark .
Day 18: From camp we headed toward Silver Pass, which was about 4.9 miles and 2800′. We were on the pass at 2 pm. We passed the beautiful Silver Pass Lake, and headed toward Tully Hole. My gas tank ran empty before we reached Tully Hole, and we camped along Fish Creek. The Willnerds had gone ahead to Purple Lake, and Jim and I camped by ourselves. I decided this night that the cold was draining my energy too severely, and I would go home at Reds Mountain Resort. I was OK with that decision. Total mileage for the day: 10 miles. Below: lake before Silver Pass.
Day 19: I knew I was going to be slow today from the cold. I asked Jim to hike ahead to Reds to get there before the store closed, and if they had any cold medicine to hike back and meet me on the trail. He stayed with me as we climbed about 1200′ out of Tully hole, past Lake Virginia, and on to Purple Lake. There we saw the Wilnerds and just kept going. Jim left me there, promising to bring some cold medicine back. Below: Lake Virginia
Below: Stream below Lake Virginia
From Purple lake the trail was slightly downhill, sandy for the most part, and I cruised along in a daze. The Wilnerds passed me, and close to Reds I passed them as they lay down to take a nap. In another mile or so I met Jim as he was coming back for me, with cough drops. He took my pack, and to my surprise I was only about a mile behind him, so we reached Reds in 3/4 mile. We dropped our packs and went in to the cafe and ordered hamburgers and shakes. They didn’t have French fries. Shortly Luke and Ian joined us, and we had another pig out. The post office had the resupply buckets we had mailed to them, and we found our way to the backpacker campground. Later we went back to the area of the cafe and took showers and washed clothes. Jim and I had hiked 18 miles this day. I said that if I can hike 18 miles, I can do another 3 days of hiking and get to the car at Tuollumne.