Day 80: Entering the John Muir Wilderness

June 9, 2018


It was bitterly cold when we hiked out the next morning and almost immediately we came to the trail that leads to the alternate crossing of Evolution Creek. According to Guthooks, the crossing along the PCT was waist-deep to someone my height. That’s pretty stinking deep! 

The alternate was much more shallow but still up to my thighs and, good Lord, was it ever cold! There were several water-logged bits we had to cross before and after crossing the actual creek, and by the time we reached dry trail again our feet and legs were numb and mine stung to the touch. We shed our packs and used bandanas and other dry things to warm up our legs and feet a little before putting on dry socks and shoes and continuing on.

After that, it was a long way down, and then most of the day was spent hiking slowly up along the San Joaquin River, eventually leaving Kings Canyon Natl. Park and entering the John Muir Wilderness. We met two SOBO’s and from their reports of Seldon Pass, it sounded like the snow would be manageable even later in the day. In the end, we decided to go for it. We almost camped a mile from the summit just because we were all so tired, but we decided to push on and made it to a campsite on the other side at Marie Lake, making for a 17.2 mile day, our longest in the Sierra so far!! I was pretty proud of us!

Bridges are a real treat in the Sierra
Break time!

The temperature was dropping rapidly and we pitched our tents as much out of the wind as possible, but we had to go down to the lake for water. Exposed as I was on the edge of the lake, I couldn’t help but stay for a few minutes and take it all in. The expanse of Marie Lake was studded with little rock islands and small trees popping up out of the water, as well as blocks of ice that turned a neon blue beneath the surface of the crystal clear water.

Once again, I felt like I was standing at the edge of something from a C.S. Lewis novel. I didn’t tear myself away until my toes started to go numb, at which point I scurried into the safety and warmth of my tent and started cooking my dinner, and entire 2.5 serving pack of freeze-dried Pad Thai, easily my favorite hiker dinner on trail and also the highest in calories. I was beginning to see the connection between my mental well-being and the amount of nutrition I was getting, or just calories in general, so I’d been trying to force myself to eat more.

Not eating enough has never been a problem for me, so the fact that it has been on trail was something entirely new. Forcing myself to eat more food was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Even if I was hungry, I found I could only eat so much, and usually not while hiking. My new hip belt was already cinched up almost to capacity and I would soon need to order a size small. That had been the biggest clue that I was doing something wrong. I was losing weight far too fast. I decided to supplement my dinner with some jerky or something, but I was barely able to finish the freeze-dried meal as it was. 

I’d forgotten to check for cell service while we were on top of Seldon Pass, which was unfortunate because I’d realized while hiking that day that I might have missed the deadline to renew my health insurance, which was not good. I’d need health insurance if I wanted to see a doctor in Mammoth Lakes. I heard there’d be cell service at the lake where we’d be taking a ferry to VVR, so hopefully I could check on my insurance status once we got there.

Day 81: Vermillion Valley Resort

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at

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