August 3, 2015
8 mi from VVR + 6 miles, 100 miles total
VVR to Marie Lakes
Courtney, Andrew and I were up at 6:00 to pack up our yurt. Cole had plans to stay another day at VVR before leaving – his itinerary was a few days longer than ours – and we lamented that we probably wouldn’t see him again after today.
We went to the restaurant for breakfast and Andrew, Courtney and I debated about the best trail to take out of VVR. There were two options: Bear Creek or Bear Ridge. Supposedly Bear Creek was easier and had less elevation gain, but it was also a few miles longer back to the JMT. We had input about the options from everyone in the restaurant, debating the pros and cons (“Bear Creek is prettier!” “Bear Ridge is quicker!”) and finally we decided on Bear Creek, which appeared to be about 11 miles of hiking from VVR to the JMT.
Heather, Jennifer, Andrew, Courtney and I piled into the bed of the truck that was shuttling us back to the trail, and goodbye to Cole, who ran in slow motion after our truck with his arms outstretched. We laughed at this, but we were sad, nonetheless, that we may not see our new friend again.
When we reached Bear Creek, the five of us piled out of the truck and started up the trail. VVR was Courtney and my last resupply stop until the end of the trip, so we had twelve days of food loading us down, making our packs easily fifty pounds each. We could barely fit everything in there, and I still worried that we would run out of food before the journey’s end. Our heavy packs also made the uphill hike a beast to tackle. I was struggling more than I had at any part in the trip so far, and I was soon lagging behind everyone else. I cursed and fumed my way along the trail, angry at myself for being so slow. I tried to distract myself with the beauty of the trail - for it was very beautiful – alongside the banks of Bear Creek. But more than anything I just wanted to huck my pack off and go swimming, but I knew I didn’t have time to spare for that.
Finally, around lunchtime, I caught up with Courtney beside the river, and we decided to go for a dip. The water was cold and refreshing and help alleviate my grumpy mood.
Bear Creek Trail was supposed to be 11 miles back to the JMT, but we reached the junction after four hours of hiking, so I guessed it had only been about eight miles. We still had six more miles to reach our destination of Marie Lake, and as was the norm, it was uphill the whole way. The last four miles were brutal – we were slowly climbing toward Seldon Pass – but the scenery was breathtaking.
We arrived at Marie Lake at 5:00pm – exhausted and extremely glad to be done hiking for the day. To our surprise, though, Andrew – who had already arrived – was getting a second wind and wanted to keep going to the next set of lakes. Courtney and I were too wiped and couldn’t join him, so we made camp for the night while we watched Andrew disappear toward the pass.
Courtney and I cooked dinner and were glad we stayed – Marie Lake was beautiful, and the setting sun made the mountains glow as though they were transparent. We turned in early at 7:00pm, and thought we heard Heather and Jennifer arriving at camp as the sky turned dark.