We have seen the big, the dramatic, now we see the subtle, with smelly good trees and sandy lakes. We pass through so many different types of terrain that it’s impossible to keep track of where you have been all day. I only had one goal in mind for today: Find a lake or stream and wash all my clothes. My smell is awful, and has become a route description for the other hikers passing by. They must think we lost our jobs in the recession and are hiking to the next state in hopes of affording soap. We find a great spot near Red Meadows, above a waterfall to bathe and wash clothes. Right when I am stripped down to my undies, scrubbing myself thoroughly around my privates, a young family stops and picnics 10 feet from us. Is California becoming like China, where there are so many people that they are forced to be comfortable next to each other. After a 1.5 hour break, we hike into Red Meadows, drop off some garbage, fill up with water, quickly look at the Devil’s Postpile (basalt columns) and begin the last 5 miles. It’s a grunt, the forest is burnt, the ground is chewed up sand, and we are more than tired. We end here at Crater Meadows. Tomorrow should be interesting – there was a severe storm warning posted on the Red Meadows Ranger Station that warned of snow, rain, and lightning above 9,000 feet. John Muir Trail hikers were advised to stay put until the storm passes in 2 days. Since we are carrying 20 more pounds than all the other through-hikers, including extra gear, specifically extra gear for inclement weather, we decided to push on through into the storm and get ahead rather than behind.
I enter a dark place in my mind each day I am here. The distance on the body is daunting.