John Muir Trail Day 9: Sunset at Lake Virginia

Tuesday 8/31 6:24 PM DAY 9 📍Lake Virginia 10.42 miles 8 hrs  

Journal entry: Just finished cooking dinner. Tonight: garlic creamy shells w/broccoli. I know, I was supposed to have burritos tonight, but I actually think I’ll make it to VVR tomorrow. My calculations were totally off. Today has been a day. Motto: “Only uphill when it’s not” or something like that. Started the day earlyish 8 AM. Arrived to camp pretty early like 3:45ish. Leap frogging these 2 groups, each 2 guys and 1 girl. Eh they seem whatever. I guess I can try to be more social sometimes. I did mention to them at Duck Creek outlet that the national forests are closed as of tomorrow. Yeah- whatever news from Heather today that kinda put me in a mood. Better to be aware, I guess. So I guess there’s just not that many people on trail right now. Apparently, they aren’t even going to let anyone else on trail. That’s dope. Oh- I figured out my sternum strap. Accidently but it works. Dinner sucks.

Story: Starting the trail at 8 AM this morning. A little downhill to Bear Creek to fill up for the 5-mile dry climb to Lake Virginia. I found a side trail and decided to stop for a quick snack break, and the views were pretty awesome. I stopped for a nice half-hour break before getting back on trail. When I got back on trail, I turned on my Garmin GPS to some not-so-great news. Well, besides my sister catching the cat, and ‘I Love You’ text from my mom; Heather goes on to say that as of tomorrow all national forests are closed, and it’s possible they may ask hikers to leave. I say “F that”, hiking conditions are perfect, there is no smoke, so I will stay on trail for as long as I can. Bad news just messed with my mood a little bit, but it was still a beautiful morning and about 8-miles to Lake Virginia.

First views of Cascade Valley, and I’m thinking I need to head back for a weekend trip on Fish Creek. It was a pretty warm afternoon, and I stopped to change out of some layers before 11 AM. That’s when I decided to have peanut butter jelly sandwiches for lunch. They were delicious, and yes I am a child. Running into a few people this afternoon. I ran into a group of 3 and we were piggy-backing each other for a while, when one of the older gentlemen made a snarky comment about my bear canister being “so big” and that kinda just put me in a weird mood. He wasn’t mean about it, but like- I know what I’m doing, I guess I was just feeling a little discouraged because my pack was so big, heavy, and my sternum strap broke, but I’m out here, still making miles- just doing what I gotta do, and not complaining about it.

The hike up to Lake Virginia was long and hard. I took it a little fast since I wanted to pass up a few people, but climbing in the middle of the afternoon was not fun. Exposed uphill, meh- but passing the two groups- felt great! It was JMT Mile 72 that my bear canister started giving me problems. Or should I say, my pack? My bear canister hadn’t fallen off my pack, but it got loose enough to hang. I was able to tighten it and that seemed to help, but I started to worry a bit knowing I had 18-20 days left on trail.

I’m not sure I remember what time it was when I reached not-so-purple Purple Lake, but I wish I spent more time here. The reason I didn’t care to at the time, it was pretty close to our local trails in Mammoth, and I figured I could always make the trek another weekend- I needed to make it to Lake Virginia. So I stopped for maybe 10 minutes, filtered some water, stuffed my face with a few trail snacks, and got back on trail to continue the last climb to Lake Virginia.

But of course, it was all good when it was all downhill for the remainder of the day! I scattered around a bit way off-trail, to find a decent spot to camp. I had imagined Lake Virginia to be a popular spot, but when I arrived there weren’t that many people out yet. I was not mad about that at all. I found an awesome site, ways away from the lake and the trail, and it was almost too perfect.

Lake Virginia was beautiful. She looked very delicate and for that reason, I didn’t care to get in the water. I had tuna and pickles for lunch, and literally spent the rest of the day hanging out at camp. It was nice and much needed. As excited as I was for dinner, it was actually pretty gross. I didn’t let the pasta noodles cook long enough, and it was just horrible. At least the views from camp were good.

And the sunset was even better. Probably my favorite campsite so far on the JMT, and now probably my favorite sunset too. I forgot to mention: before getting back on trail, I got a disposable film camera!! I will now be taking at least 1 photo a day for the remainder of the trip! How fun! This sunset definitely deserves a photo!

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Vanessa is an outdoors enthusiast, hiker at heart, and the storyteller behind Forever She Wanders; a women's lifestyle + travel blog inspiring all to get outdoors, seek adventure and live an active lifestyle. As an outdoors enthusiast, Vanessa has found passion in being outdoors while backpacking, camping, hiking and creating memories of a lifetime.

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