Sunday 4th August 2013

Vermilion Valley Resort to Marie lakes – 14.5 miles

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After a restless night worrying I was up early to have another unsuccessful look for my ring before making the decision to call Amy and tell her. However, in a strange twist of fate I couldn’t make the call until the generator fired up at 7am as it required wireless. I decided to start packing up my camp to kill time and whilst folding up my tent I found the ring in the section that formed the entrance!

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Uplifted and relieved I woke the others with the news and encouraged them to hurry up in order to beat the large group of scouts to breakfast, who had arrived the night before. This was in vain, as it turns out that even a group of teenage scouts are quicker to get up in the morning than Luke and as a result we had to wait ages to get fed. I took this opportunity to speak to Amy, a call that – although always nice – unfortunately had an atmosphere of distress and frustration. This was because we were about to disappear into the wilderness for 10 days straight, completely out of contact until (hopefully) arriving safely back in civilization having successfully completed
the trail.

Over our much-delayed breakfast we discussed the two choices of how to get back to the trail. The first would be to wait until the ferry started at 3pm and then be faced with the return walk across the lake bed to where we left the trail. We would then would have to embark on a 2,000ft wall of brutal switchbacks. The alternative was to get a lift that morning to Bear Creek trail head for a steady nine mile climb joining the trail on the other side of the aforementioned climb. This would give us a better opportunity to cover the five and a half miles to reach Marie Lakes, our proposed campsite for the night.

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Although longer in mileage we chose the second option, as we just wanted to get moving. We were treated to an unexpected ride in the back of a pick up truck along a dirt track and jumped out ready to start walking again. Unfortunately this was far from the best days walking I have experienced. The majority of the forested path back to the J.M.T. harboured a thriving mosquito population whilst offering no views, that coupled with the extreme heat due to the relatively low altitude made for a particularly long morning.

We were very fatigued by the time we re-joined the trail but thankful that at least the steps we were taking were coming off the mileage of the trail. Being back above 9,000ft meant we were rewarded once again with stunning High Sierra landscape. The remaining miles, although not very steep, did feel like a slog and the last mile kept cruelly tricking us with false summits. With every corner turned I was convinced we would be presented with the sparkle of a lake, but instead we were faced with more path.

The wait however was worth it as usual and in the early evening sun we reached the crystal clear waters of Marie Lakes. This also marked 100 miles on the trail and we stumbled across a marker that had been created by previous thru-hikers.

With spirits lifted once more we found a beautiful spot to set up camp on the waters edge and enjoyed a very relaxing and peaceful evening. AB

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