7/27 – Red’s Meadow to Lake Virginia
16 miles and 7,600′ to 10,338
Man we made it really, really far today. Super far considering my calves and feet were killing me two days ago and I had serious thoughts of quitting the trail. The zero day in Mammoth lakes definitely helped in recouping and relaxing. I’m no doctor but I’m pretty sure I have plantar facitiis. I get sharp pains through my heels when I flex my feet. Pretty disappointing as I really did try to train with multiple 15 miles hikes back at home and 5 miles at night during the work week. The new insoles we picked up in Mammoth are helping. Well, I hope they help. The gear shop in Mammoth was well stocked and everyone was super informative. I guess they get a lot of PCT and JMT hikers. They immediately pointed out that I have high arches and pronate my ankles and that my shoes were the right ones for me. Rather than trying brand new shoes a quarter of the way in, he recommended supportive insoles and to stretch my calves a bunch. We also picked up a new Snow Peak titanium cook pot, an ursak, and some super sweet sun sleeves.
While the rest day in Mammoth with the soft bed and cheeseburgers was super nice, being in town gave me anxiety. Making decisions about shoes and insoles felt like a life or death situation. Then sitting early this morning in Mammoth waiting for the shuttle to take us back to the trail my heart was racing. I felt like I was wasting valuable time on the trail and taking a day off made me some kind of imposter. Especially since we have so many more miles to cover.
SO it could be the rest day or the new gear but today felt really good. We covered more miles than ever before and still had time for a good hot lunch and hot dinner. I can’t believe we covered 16 miles; basically a full page of one of our maps. The John Muir Trail takes practice in terms of figuring out how to quickly pack up in the morning, do chores efficiently, eat more food in the middle of the day, and when to camel up on water. Maybe it just took us 7 days on the trail to figure it all out.
The scenery changes with every mile and every pass. This morning at Red’s Meadow the scenery was a nice pine forest with ferns and flower meadows. All through Devil’s Post Pile and Red’s there were a huge number of the trees snapped in half and downed. Apparently there was a giant wind storm in winter 2011. A local told us that “the jet stream touched down” with 100 mph winds. Unsure to the validity of that statement, but it had to be super windy to knock thousands of trees over like match sticks. We passed a couple cinder cones and climbed steadily for 4 miles crossing over Crater Creek a couple times and getting a fantastic view of Cascade Valley. We climbed some more to Duck Lake outlet and chatted with a mom and her two young daughters resting and soaking their feet in the cool water. They were going about 7 miles a day, so half our pace. She went to Bishop O’Dowd so we played the “do you know so and so” name game. They were wearing big boots and were suffering from some giant blisters on their feet.
We soon made it to Purple lake were a lot of people were setting up camp for the night. It was only 4:30 at that point so we decided to push up a little higher to Lake Virginia at 10,330. This was one of my favorite campsites of the trip. The climb between Purple Lake and Lake Virginia went past a no name 11,000 foot peak with a giant moraine with boulders actively tumbling down the side. It’s a pretty cool sight and sound to watch giant boulders just rolling down and bouncing around. Plus, gotta love that there are 11,000 foot peaks with no name.
Tomorrow we go over Silver Pass at 10,900!