Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The JMT part 6

5-Banner or Ritter
The John Muir Trail
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)
Early morning found us still dry thank goodness.
And the cloudless sky overhead was a great omen!  Packing up after breakfast,  we headed south on the JMT with only one goal in mind that day....a new tent!  Within minutes we passed our first trail sign.  We looked at the turn off briefly, but were not too interested in a trail that took us down to a river and out of the views.   So, we didn't spend much time pondering it,  but marched on by.  It would not be long however before we realized we had actually passed our turnoff.   The sign we had passed had not mentioned the JMT and in our single minded determination to get to Red's...we just marched right past the JMT with blinders.  By the time we realized what had happened... in studying the map,  we realized there were actually three parallel trails to the Minarets Road.   We were actually on the PCT High Trail and no  longer on the JMT.  But looking closely at our topo...we realized also that it would be quite a delay to backtrack and the trail we were on would take us where we wanted to go anyway.  So we stayed on the High Trail.  In the end,  I can't say how many actually hike the High Trail to Agnews...whether while hiking the JMT or otherwise.  I am guessing most folks take the more glamorous JMT.   But, our accident took us over the most amazing trail that we would probably never have set foot on if it were not for our haste.  All along the High Trail you are up close to 10,000 feet, and the High Trail takes you out along  along the canyon's East rim for most of it's distance.  You have unencumbered far reaching views of the wilderness west, and  of the Minarets and of the canyon and the JMT below.  To this day my husband and I can't figure out why the High Trail is not the JMT!
So, "forced" to take in the magnificent views,  we enjoyed our hike to Red's immensely and still arrived at the road in plenty of time to take one of the shuttle buses back to Mammoth before the stores closed for the night.  Once we got on the bus though, we realized we were in a bit of more trouble.  I had only brought a minimal amount of cash...who needs cash in the wilderness!  And the shuttle was very pricey!   The driver heard our predicament though and told us first of all how to get from the Mammoth lifts where her run ended, to town,  and then she told us to watch for her when we came back and she would not charge us for the return trip to Red's!  Trail Magic!
Once we got to the Mammoth lifts, we had a bit of wait for the shuttle to take us to town so we confronted our next to pay for our tent!  Again, who needs credit cards in the wilderness?  Our cards were not on us!  We got to a pay phone...and had just enough change to call our daughter collect.  Next problem unfolded very cannot call  collect to cell phones!   The operator was very efficient in telling me that before she disconnected.  I called the operator again and begged her not to hang up on me.  This time I got one willing to listen.  I explained my situation and she came up with the solution....she put us through to someone we knew who had a landline who would accept the charges and then the operator made a conference call with our nephew who had the landline and our daughter who had a credit card we could use!  After some very tense moments when I feared our trip might be in jeopardy,  our tent situation was solved.  From previous travels I already knew the name of a store in Mammoth that sold tents.  So my daughter said she would call ahead to  Kittredge Sports and tell them to sell a tent to us using her credit card...YEA!  Hopping on the bus to town we arrived at Kittredge post haste.  Walking in the door with three days grime and our fully loaded backpacks, a clerk made a beeline for us and asked if we perhaps were there to buy a tent!   My daughter had described us well it seems.  Securing a new tent and thanking them profusely for their help,  we hopped back on the bus up to the lifts.  Ah....relief!  Arriving at the lifts however,  one more small hurdle...the bus driver we were waiting for never arrived!  After a couple of buses came and went, we finally asked a driver about her.  It seems she was gone for the day.  Sigh.  But, after explaining what had happened to the new driver, he told us to hop on anyway and that he'd take us down to Red's.  More trail magic.   The moral of the story of course is never travel without money and cards!
Arriving at Red's rather late,  the restaurant was about to close for the night.   We told no sob story this time however, and yet,  the waitress took a long look at us then told us to have a seat that she could just fit us in!   I can't say enough about how hard the folks in Mammoth and at Red's try and make JMTers have a great trip!  Getting a great dinner and  our resupply from the store was simply perfect, and yet our Red's experience was not over...the natural spring hot showers were simply sublime!
We blissfully settled into the campground for backpackers at Red's Meadow well fed and showered and resupplied and slept that night in our brand new lightweight, waterproof tent!
9-Night 3, Reds Meadow Resupply
Three days and so many adventures....what else could this journey possibly hold for us???  To be continued....