Marie Lake – the trail to Vermillion Valley Ranch
Well, it occurs to me that I should be halfway to Canada by now and I’m totally not. I’m about a third. It’s likely that my second half will be faster than the first. In marathon running, starting out too fast is a good way to burn out early.
Whatever, my goal was to live out in nature for a few months and see this part of California. Wherever I am when the winter comes, I’m sure I’ll get the message that it’s time to stop. I hate getting wet and cold. I took the whole morning to dry out and recover. Two of my Trader Joe’s coffee packets.
By the time I started walking, clouds were already billowing again. When the thunder started up, I donned my rain apparel. Including my waterproof socks. I found a pair of pink REI waterproof socks in the hiker box at the hiker hostel in Independence. I’ve used them before and the thing about waterproof socks is that they’re not really waterproof. But they do keep my feet a lot warmer in wet conditions. On the bike, my feet can get so horribly chilled if it’s rainy and cold. Today was my first time using them for hiking.
Perfect first test: fording Bear Creek, which Guthooks calls one of the most dangerous crossings on the trail. It’s a wide crossing with big rocks, fast water, and deep spots. Actually, getting my feet wet was not my number one concern. I scouted around a little, checked out possible crossing spots, but ended up at the main spot.
I stepped in, poles planted for each step. I tried to keep forward momentum. The current was strong. Water yanked on my poles and crept higher up my legs. The rocks were slimy and rough. I can see how it could happen, so easily. A shoe sole sliding on algae, an ankle pushed against a clumsy rock. If you fell, you’d get tumbled by the water, right over all those rocks. It would really suck.
The last two meters were the deepest. But I had the knack of it by then. The water was up to my knees. I dragged myself onto the shore. My shoes were soaking wet, again. My feet felt dry.
It rained a little but nothing like yesterday. Lots of stream crossings. One where I had to walk on a really skinny log. Mostly I can do them without getting my feet wet. It’s really fun.
There was a couple miles of climbing and then I decided to take the side trail to VVR. I’ll hike one way and take the boat back out. This trail was a little wilder. But the horses come this way. Plenty of shoe prints and poop to guide me through the forest. It feels a little spooky at night but I’m trying not to think about that.