8/4/2018 MTR Campsites –> Just before Evolution Meadow
We woke up early, on a mission to resupply quickly and get out of there! We packed up our stuff lightly but not all the way and headed to MTR. Chad and Celeste came too because even though they weren’t resupplying, they wanted to look through the hiker boxes and see if there was anything they could use in there.
We arrived and stepped inside the gate and waited inside the pen, feeling like cattle. You can find various other JMT hikers’ accounts of their experiences at Muir Trail Ranch, and I know a lot of the ones I have read and heard were pretty negative. Its true that standing inside a wooden pen until they let you in makes you feel a bit like an animal, but other than that, my experience was pretty good overall. When I went to go pick up my bucket, the girl working there said that the check I had sent in with my bucket had gotten lost, but she would take my word for it.
I emptied my bucket on a table near the entrance. There was SO much food! This would be my biggest resupply. Originally I had planned on trying to fit 11 days worth of food in there, but because we were actually making pretty good time I only needed 8! I added an extra day’s worth of food in there just in case though. I had packed a can of Pringles in with all of my resupply food to eat as a snack while I packed my resupply. This was excellent thinking and I just want to take a moment to praise myself publicly for such a brilliant plan. I shared them with other hikers who resupplied and I was an instant celebrity. Everyone clapped and started cheering, and then lifted me up onto their shoulders and…..Okay, maybe that didn’t happen but they were still pretty appreciative of my chip-sharing.
Chad and Celeste went through the hiker barrels and grabbed some stuff that they needed/wanted but then they had to get a move on, they had a lot of ground to cover in order to meet their friends that would be bringing them their resupply. They told Justin and me what their schedule would be for the next few days and we both said we would try to catch up/meet up with them if we could! We hugged and exchanged contact info and Instagram handles just in case, and then they were gone.
I finished packing my bear can about the same time as Justin did, but I wanted to take a look through the hiker boxes just in case, so he headed back to the campsite but said he’d wait for me. I headed over to the hiker boxes to investigate.
In case you don’t know hiker lingo, I’ll take a moment to explain what hiker boxes are. (If you do know hiker lingo you can skip over this section but I know you won’t want to because you enjoy my writing so much). At many (most) of the main resupply points on the JMT, as well as the PCT and probably other long trails as well, there are extra buckets or a big bear box where people who are resupplying can leave unwanted or un-carryable food items, or food items they have grown tired of, gear they find they don’t need, etc. It is a great system and works well for hikers like Chad and Celeste who didn’t spend money to mail a resupply in but still choose to look through the hiker boxes to see what they may have. The contents of these boxes/buckets can range from awesome to weird to completely bewildering. For example, at Red’s Meadow I found an extra fuel canister (awesome! Mine was running out faster than I thought it would) and at VVR I found a bunch of trail mix and some interesting energy bars. I also saw someone on Instagram who found a backpacking stove in one once, and his had just broken (that’s called trail magic). However, at VVR Justin and I looked through the hiker-gear box and found some hair root dye spray (what?) a bar of soap that was brown with dirt and stuck to the bottom of the bin (ew) and some wet clothes that were possibly moldy, along with some other broken or smelly gear. The food box was a bit more promising, with lots of trail mix and oatmeal, and a few other meals that looked a lot tastier.
The hiker boxes (buckets actually) at MTR were a bit better to go through because they go through them and don’t keep super gross things, or at least it seemed that way. I took some interesting energy bars and some more trail mix because I was running low. I also took 3 Snickers bars (why would someone leave those behind??) and a bunch of M+Ms. I don’t eat that much candy at home but on the trail, it was such a treat, I couldn’t stop eating sugar!! I left some toiletry items I had packed but didn’t need, such as lotion and extra sunscreen. I also traded out my aerosol bug spray for a lotion version which was much kinder on my lungs! By the time I got back to my bear can, I could barely fit everything inside, and ended up having to carry everything I would be consuming that day outside of the can (yikes!)
I headed back to the campsite with my now heavy bear can and newly refilled water bottles, dreading walking even a few more steps, let alone several miles! By the time we got going, it was nearly 12pm, and I was not excited to be hiking into the dark. We looked over our map and decided to make a footbridge just a bit before evolution meadow our goal for the night.
We set out, hurrying towards our destination and hurrying as fast as we could despite our newly heavy packs and the heat of the afternoon. I was a little bit stressed out because my InReach did not appear to be working/tracking me and I knew my family would be worried. There was internet access at MTR for a steep cost (something like $15 for 10 minutes or close to that) but I didn’t want to turn back for that. After a little bit further and a little bit more fiddling with the InReach, it finally turned back on and we hiked on.
Justin’s pace was faster than mine so we separated for a little while then met back up again. He had to stop to refill and filter some water but I wanted to keep going, so I told him I’d meet him at a footbridge on the map ahead, just a mile or two from the footbridge we had agreed to camp at for the night. I made it to the footbridge and decided to have a snack while I waited for Justin.
I had just settled into a nice hill and taken a bite out of my Clifbar when I heard someone calling me,
“Hey Pepper!!” I looked and saw Ramiro, from VVR, coming down the trail towards me!
He explained that he had known it was me because he saw my rainbow gaiters and I followed him to a little clearing where Taylor and one new person were stopped for a break. We caught up and I told them that Justin was just a few minutes behind me. I found out that they were planning on stopping near the same footbridge that Justin and I had mapped out, and that the new guy was named Luke and was doing the JMT with roughly the same schedule. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen him up until this point but glad to meet a new friend! Soon Justin showed up and stopped for a snack too, and then we all got going. I listened to my ebook and hiked semi-alone amid the group and time went by really quickly. We soon reached the footbridge and Taylor, Ramiro, and Luke went out to scout a campsite. I took a look at the map and saw that there was a mile of elevation gain just past the footbridge and didn’t feel like doing that first thing in the morning. I told Justin that I was going to keep going and find a campsite at the top of the switchbacks and that he could come with me or camp with the other guys, whatever he felt like. He decided that he didn’t want to wake up to switchbacks either, so we set out to tackle them together as the sun started to slip behind the hills.
The higher up the switchbacks we went, the brighter it got. We were beating the sun! That was pretty cool! We got to the top and enjoyed a beautiful view of the valley below. Some other hikers came up the trail, Justin had met them at the beginning of his rip and we all continued up the rest of the hill together (we thought we were at the top when we took pictures of the valley, but there was still a bit further to go, we soon found out.) We finally got to the actual top and hiked next to a river for a while, stopping to take some awesome pictures on a large rock in the middle of the river, just ahead of a huge waterfall!
Eventually, we reached a stream crossing. Justin didn’t want to get all wet as the sun was setting, and I thought he had a good point, so we set up camp for the night, right next to the river. I was a lot hungrier than I thought I would be, and I ended up eating two whole dinners! I had an Unstuffed Italian Red Pepper from Bushka’s Kitchen and a Coconut Rice and Cuban Black Beans meal from Food For the Sole. Both were so good and I went to bed feeling like I had just had Thanksgiving Dinner.
Thanks for reading!