Wednesday, October 24, 2012

John Muir Trail - Day 9

August 18, 2012 –Quail Meadow to Rose Marie Meadow
Mileage:  10               Elevation:  10,000 feet

In the beautiful calm of the early morning at Quail Meadows we had no idea what lay in store for us this day.  We packed up and got on the trail knowing that our first challenge was a 2000 foot climb of Bear Ridge with very little water.  The Pacific Crest Trail has a very friendly angle.  It was cool and shaded; we made the climb pretty easily.  Along the way we met a couple.  He had through hiked the PCT and felt we could make Seldon Pass and Sally Keys Lakes.  That really got us excited – we had not planned to hike that far.

The trail was good and the hiking smooth.  By 12:30 we were soaking our feet in a rushing stream, enjoying the sunshine with 8 miles hiked.  We realized that Seldon Pass was within our grasp. 
Bear Creek


At 1:49 we heard the first thunder.  This had happened most days so we weren’t alarmed.  We appreciated the coolness of the clouds moving in and continued on.  It began to rain just a little … we hiked on through.  Suddenly the rain became stronger, so we pulled off the trail to wait out the squall.  We put on our Gortex jackets and pack covers.  As the rain began to let up we moved on.  But it really wasn’t abating!  Thunder was rolling.  We knew we were close to Rose Marie Meadows, so we hiked up and hunkered down in a dry area under a tree.  We were pretty wet and the rain was pouring down…we also were not as protected as we thought.
Lightning joined the thunder and it was close!  We tried to find a safer place to wait the storm out, but it was difficult.  During our wandering around Don did locate a well drained campsite for future consideration, but we needed a break in the weather to set up camp.  We returned to the original somewhat protected area, choosing death by lightening over hypothermia.  We pulled out our tent fly and wrapped ourselves in it.  Although we were completely soaked to the skin, we began to warm up.  After an hour we noticed a slight break in the storm and threw ourselves into rain drill mode to set up camp. 
As the storm increased once again we dove into our tent.  Both of us were pre-hypothermic.  We changed to dry clothes and warmed up in our sleeping bag.  Thunder and lightning continued to rage.  We rolled our eyes, read, did crosswords and hoped the intense storm would let up.  Finally after another hour we were able to crawl out of our tent.  Don made soup and hot chocolate!  We wandered through the meadow to check on other campers.  Everyone was soaked, tents were swamped, but all were doing well.  This was the worst storm we had ever seen on a backpack trip and it felt good to be on the other side of it.  Drying out would take some time…so much for the “sunny Sierras”


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