6th September 2019
Senger Creek – Bear Creek junction / Vermillion Valley Resort
10.8 trail miles + 13.7 side trail = 24.5 miles
Total miles: 149.9


We woke up to our first damp morning. A bit of condensation on the tents but to be expected given our proximity to water. We packed up and we saw the couple from MTR yesterday, the ones grabbing all the food, who told us they were going south the Walker Pass, and now here they are going north. Very strange. 

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An unusual breakfast!

Catwater remarked that there were 87 ‘stepasides’ yesterday and for all of the morning I had the chimney sweep song from Mary Poppins going round my head … bend your knees up step in time….bend you knees up step in time…

So we hiked on and we were so pleased we had got that 1500ft of climbing out the way yesterday. The 4 mile climb up to Selden Pass isn’t so bad. It’s very pretty which helps. We passed the spot I camped in in 2016, one of the few nights I camped alone as Catwater went into VVR to resupply and I carried 10 days of food so I didn’t have to (not doing that again!) 

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We saw quite a few people coming the other way as we climbed up. I think this pass is one of my favourites, it is so beautiful on both sides and it’s not a tough climb. On the way up you pass Sallie Keyes and Heart lakes, and on the other side you are overlooking Marie lake which I love because it’s a huge lake dotted with islands. 

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I cut my leg on a rock. 

Then began the downhill and the temperature so far had been great, sunny with a few clouds so we got a bit of shade. I took a corner too fast and cut my leg on a rock, just a little scrape, aside from that it was all going quite well until Catwater took a tumble. She hit the dirt hard and scraped up her knees and arm and took a mouthful of dirt. To start with it wasn’t a laughing moment so I gave her a minute and made sure she was ok. She was a bit shaken but eventually we were able to laugh about it! 

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We crossed a creek and just waded through while we watched all the JMTers carefully remove their shoes. When your feet have been wet for a few days anyway you stop caring about keeping them dry.

We hiked on until we hit the bear creek trail. This is the trail that my little hiking ‘family’ and I took in 2015. Looking back I can’t remember why, definitely wasn’t my idea, but I think we were all spurred on by the talk of real food at VVR. I couldn’t really remember the trail either. I remembered it was pretty and that we saw an island we named Cool Puffler and we got stuck in a freezing rain storm and we missed the turning, then we had to hike up a steep uphill and then along a road for an age, so not great memories!

We stopped for a snack and took the side trail, not really knowing exactly how long it was. To start with we went through some boggy marshy stuff, we had wet feet anyway, now we had wet muddy feet. The memories of that bit came back. Then we came to a big rocky bit where we couldn’t find the trail and we started to question our decision. But we found the trail again and it looked pretty well used, if not that well maintained, so we carried on.

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We hiked up a bit and came out at this big clearing and I had a sudden flash of memory. This is where Growler had chafe and I gave her some sudocrem which stung.

We have talked about Growler often. She was such a big part of my 2015 hike. It feels good to talk about the memories with someone but it also hurts a lot. She is the person I miss the most who isn’t dead. I miss our memories, our silliness and our belly laughs. There are so many things I would like to tell her. So many things that have happened that I think she would find funny.

We moved on, past the creek. Past Cool Puffler, down last one of the prettiest creeks with some of the clearest purest water. It’s the perfect place to take a wild swim. But we don’t have the time for that. We have to keep moving. We always have to keep moving. t is the mindset you get into when you’re thru-hiking.

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It was a long way. Longer probably than we had anticipated. We had enough food, we could have camped before VVR and gone in tomorrow, but the lure of food, shower and laundry was too much, probably more for Catwater than me.

We made it to the junction where we turned off the bear creek trail and we go to Edison lake, b y going up and over a big hill. By the time we got to the junction (which I saw was so easy to miss like I did in 2015) I was pretty pooped. We paused for a moment preparing ourselves for at least 3 more miles of trail, and then a 2 mile road walk to VVR. Still so much hiking to do!

We climbed up the hill, about 800ft of climbing, which I had built up in my mind to be way worse than it turned out to be. It was soo hot, the sun was out for our uphill of course.  But it was worse in 2015. We had freezing rain and I had hiked 2 miles more than I needed to!! By the time we got to the top my legs were so done. And we still had another 1.5 miles of downhill to go. I could even face thinking about the road walk.

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All the way up the trail was covered in thorny bushes so we were all scratched up on our legs..

We got to the road and I was totally exhausted. The road walk was going to be brutal, and we weren’t even that sure how long the road walk was going to be. We hiked along the road for about 5 minutes and a car stops.

Dave our saviour. Dave is my new best friend.

The only car on the road and he is going to VVR. He works there. He had just been to collect all the hiker boxes and we were able to chuck our packs and ourselves on top of all the packages and Dave drove us up the road. We kept checking ourselves as to how we got so lucky. Later on I asked Dave if he knew the miles of the trails and he said the bear creek trail was 10.4 and the cut off was 3.3 miles. The road walk would have been 5 miles. I definitely didn’t have 5 more miles of road walking in me.

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We arrived at VVR and everyone was staring at us riding on our chariot. We were going to camp, but Catwater snapped up the last tent cabin. Just beds in a zip up canvas tent but it meant we didn’t have to set up our tents and we could spread our gear out. Perfect.

They give you a beer on the house on arrival if you’re hiking the PCT or JMT, or a soda if you don’t drink beer like me. Then we went straight to the restaurant for dinner and we broke our self imposed rule of not eating before 6pm.

There were only 3 things to choose from so we had a buttermilk chicken sandwich with spinach mash and sweet slaw. It was huge and delicious, and like normal when I eat a big meal I went straight to the toilet and had the shits.

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So after that it was time for a shower. I managed to find shampoo and conditioner in the showers and I was able to wash my hair for the first time in 17 days. I hadn’t brushed it since I left England and it felt like a birds nest. I spent a good twenty minutes finger combing my hair and so much hair came out it was gross but it felt so good. There was definitely much more to come out but it was a start.

Showers with a token are so stressful because you don’t know how long you’ve got. I managed to give my hair two washes and scrubbed my body as best I could. I then had to dry myself with my bandana because they had run out of towels. The only clothes I had to put on were my puffy, which was fine because it was a bit chilly now, and my rain skirt which is translucent. Thankfully I had a clean pair of underpants to put on.

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I put my stinky wet shoes back on and went into the shop to get another soda while our laundry was going round. Dave and Tim commented on my strong look, I also felt like I got started out quite a lot but I think people were just intrigued about my rain skirt. I had a long chat with a couple in the store about it. I didn’t really need to buy anything in terms of food, I already had more than enough food from MTR and I actually got rid of some. I did buy a freeze dried meal because I hate ramen, but the only thing that really annoys me about this place is the fact they take food out of the hiker boxes and sell it for an inflated price in their shop. That’s not cool.

I got my third soda and we sat in the laundry room waiting for our washing. We didn’t really feel like being sociable around the camp fire, and Catwater was happily chatting to someone in the laundry room. I managed to find a part used intensive moisturising cream which I put over as much of my body as possible. Finally some moisture in my dry, damaged parched skin.

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It’s weird to think it’s my birthday tomorrow. 37. This is the fifth year in a row I will have been abroad for my birthday, and 4 of those year have been in the states. There is no cell service anywhere around here and I won’t be able to talk to my parents which will be weird.

It’s now 9:10pm and way past my sleep time. But we will be getting the ferry at 9am back to the trail so we get a bit of a lie in.

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