JMT Day 11: Ferry rides, raptor skirmish, and a sweet reunion
JMT Day 11, August 14, 2013, Wednesday
I stayed in my tent a bit longer than usual, then had breakfast in camp before heading down to meet Russell. I was so excited to get to him that I didn’t stop to have a morning snack. I got to the ferry dock around 10:10. There were three late-middle-aged men skinny dipping (2 of them) who told me the time. They got on the 11 am ferry, which Russell wasn’t on. I waited for the next one at 1 pm.
Before that ferry arrived, I was looking down at the dock and realized there was a dog sniffing around. Next time I looked, there were two! A minute later, a big hefty truck pulled up, the driver hopped out, pulled a small motor boat around to the back of the truck, and started loading bags of trash & empty barrels into it. I went over and offered a hand. I unloaded while he stacked in the boat. His name was Luke and he does jobs all around Muir Trail Ranch.
After he took off in the boat, the 1 pm ferry came, and Russell wasn’t on that. Another came, a little after 1, with no Russell. Luke was back with a load of new hiker barrels, to take the 2nd load of trash. He suggested I take a boat across the lake and use a phone on the other side. He asked the ferry driver to take me across as a favor, and said he’d take me back. The driver agreed, and I grabbed my bag and hopped on. On the other side of the lake he let me use the phone for free, but Russell didn’t pick up, nor the others I called. I bought a cold coffee, and headed back to Luke’s boat.
I helped stack new barrels into the boat, then rode back across. Partway across, we saw an osprey catch a fish, then a bald eagle swoop in to try to take it. The fish was dropped, then the birds flew around each other for some time, the osprey teasing the bald eagle. I helped unload on the other side, and at the end, Luke said if I was interested in a job next summer, I should give him a call in the spring!
Russell wasn’t on the 3 pm ferry. I was settling in to what little shade I could find when he came up and tapped me on the shoulder — he had walked around the lake! He had given a ride to some Germans (Stefan & Kaspar), who then walked back to the hot springs campsite with us. Kaspar (the godson of Stefan) helped us figure out how to hang the food, then we settled in and relaxed, as it was past 6 pm.
Feet: the same. no worse on R pinkie, maybe better on the L
- JMT miles: 0 today, 108 total
- Total miles: 10.2 today, 136.3 total
Blayney Hot Springs 7790′ → Florence Lake 7328′ → Blayney Hot Springs 7790′
Have you ever tried to meet someone at a specific time, on a specific day, in the wilderness?
It sounded super difficult. My catastrophizing mind came up with all sorts of ways in which it wouldn’t work: I wouldn’t make it to the checkpoint, Russell wouldn’t make it, one of us would get the day wrong, Russell would get stopped without a permit before he made it to me, and like, arrested or something. Maybe an apocalypse would occur while I was in the mountains.
None of that happened. We met up on the day planned, at the location planned, and all was well.
Russell’s brother drove him up to Florence Lake, which is apparently turns into a hellacious drive on dirt roads. They had initially planned to drive up the night before, but once they left in the morning and got onto the bad section of road, were very glad to have avoided driving it at night. As a result though, Russell got to the west end of the lake a little later than we had anticipated. He & his brother had picked up a pair of German hitchhikers who were rejoining the JMT: Stefan & Kaspar.
Once they got to the lake, the next ferry wasn’t leaving for several hours, and the Germans were planning to walk around the lake anyway, so Russell tromped down the trail with them, getting to me as the heat of the day was finally dying down. He had left his pack with the Germans, and was just carrying a fluorescent green hat that he’d picked up for me to wear (I’d been wearing his hiking hat for the first 10 days).
I’ve never seen a more welcome sight than his face on that day.
The waiting time was pretty fun though, despite my worries that the world had ended while I was on the trail and I’d never see R again. It was fascinating to see the process that MTR had to go through to provide hiker resupply pickups, and it felt great to work out my upper body for the first time in several weeks. Luke, the ferry driver, and the gentleman running the store on the west side of the lake were so helpful as I waited — real trail angels.
The bald eagle vs. osprey interaction was jaw dropping. Luke & I watched it play out in silence, letting the raptors do their thing back and forth across the lake as we let the engine idle and just stared. Well, I stared; he may have been a tad more used to that sort of wildlife encounter.
Once Russell & I joined up, we distributed the 10 days of food he’d brought between our two packs, and hiked back the 5 miles to Blayney Hot Springs with the Germans. At that point, our food didn’t fit into our bear canisters, but hanging was permitted so we did that. The hanging itself was interesting to figure out; the food was in a Trader Joe’s reusable shopping bag, so we wrapped it up tight with the 50′ length of cord he brought before hanging it.
I had thought at the time that we were using the PCT bear hang method, but reviewing it now, I see that we neglected to use a carabiner to take tension off the free end of the cord, and placed the hang too close to the trunk. Oh, and we completely missed the point that night by hanging it from the tree we were camped directly beneath…
“Hey bears, here’s our food, and us too! Enjoy!”
Guess we were too giddy at the reunion to be thinking straight.