“When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.” – D. H. Lawrence
One of the best parts about hiking the John Muir Trail, and thru-hiking in general, is choosing where to pitch a tent. So often in national and state parks, camping is relegated to sites where everyone sets up shop right next to each other. Waking up at Silver Pass Lake made me realize how incredibly peaceful it can be to sleep outside with no one else around. It’s also really nice to be able to choose a campsite based on preferences. I love high altitude camping next to water. Nights can be cold and tent condensation can be severe, but in return you get solitude and freedom from mosquitoes.
The trail made its way downhill from Silver Pass Lake for six miles over slabs of granite and running water until we reached the Junction for Lake Edison. There is an option to head off trail to Lake Edison for a resupply at Vermillion Valley Resort, but Julia and I decided to skip it during our hike planning in favor of Muir Trail Ranch (which we would hit the next day).
After leaving the junction for Lake Edison, the trail ascends a never ending ladder of switchbacks towards Bear Ridge. The temperatures were really starting to rise as we made our way uphill, and the air was completely void of moisture. These conditions can be tough for long distance hiking, but we’re lucky to deal with far hotter and drier conditions just about every time we hike at home in Southern California.
I’m not sure why, but part of me always expects to see something incredible after finishing a long uphill climb. I guess I just like the reward of finishing a hard uphill hike. There was none to be had once we reached Bear Ridge, as everything looked more or less the same. After hiking on a flat section at the top of the ridge, we began another descent towards Bear Creek.
The stretch of trail after Bear Creek was absolutely gorgeous, but like earlier, swarming with mosquitoes. Julia and I were using a natural lemon and eucalyptus repellent that worked pretty well, but there were a few moments where I wanted to bust out my secret stash of 100% DEET. The massive swarms only seemed to attack when we stopped, so we tried to keep a pretty healthy pace during this stretch of trail.
Our final stretch of hiking for the day was through the beautiful Rosemarie Meadow via a nice uphill climb. The mountain views, with granite slabs and conifer forests made for the perfect views to end the day.
Our campsite and final destination for day 5 was at Marie Lake, situated at 10,550ft. The air was crisp and bug free as we searched around for a place to pitch the tent. We found a flat patch of sand up on a little hill, and prepared our things for the evening. The views were magnificent, and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly fortunate to be there.
“Nobody can discover the world for somebody else. Only when we discover it for ourselves does it become common ground and a common bond and we cease to be alone.” – Wendell Berry