Rosalie Lake in the morning light is beautiful. I slept so well here. I awake to Tony out fishing for his breakfast and the Japanese man packing up. It is after 7 AM. Late for a hiking day. I make coffee and eat my probar. I feel great. I see a huge, beautiful coated coyote alongside the trail. Well, hello there Mr. Coyote! I catch up to a group of 3 young military men I met on Donahue Pass yesterday. Army, Navy and Airforce or Trout Slayer, Land and River. I hike silently behind them for a bit and then startle them. We all laugh. They have been friends since grade school. These are country boys and they remind me of the young men from where I grew up. I like them. A woman northbound hiker passes us and calls me the den mother. We all get a kick out of that. I start calling them my Platoon. The 8 miles downhill hike to Red's Resort fly by. We pass many small lakes and a really nice grove of big evergreens. The trail is always changing its view. In a really dusty section, I stumble over nothing and twist my ankle again. OUCH! I shake it out and keep hiking.
The Devil's Postpile is such a cool geological feature and the trail goes right by the base of them. My Platoon hikes over the top, I do not. There are a lot of day hikers out. People from all over the world come here. At Red's Meadow Resort I resupply, which I have to buy, because they don't have a hikers' bucket anymore. Darn. That has always worked in the past. I guess they had folks just staying out in the woods and living off the box and they were scaring the tourists. Haha. I bet. I purchase a shower and it feels great. River says I look human again. Was I inhuman before. I wish I had known. I call my husband and we chat. I am really missing him, especially at night. He is missing me too.
Grey clouds start to roll in. I go over to put my pack on and get this weird feeling of eyes on me. I kinda feel hunted. It's weird. I trust my gut and decide not to hike out alone. I go hang out with my platoon. It is fun. They really don't mind me, or at least show no signs that they do. Gene, this 66 year old hiker, who I remember from last year (this is his 4th time on the JMT) joins us at the picnic table and I love watching him talk. He is bubbly and animated and really enjoys talking to the guys because he was in the military during the Korean War. His eyes dance while he speaks and his head bobs like a bird. Gene decides to make me an honorary Marine, so all the branches of the military are represented. I have never wanted to be a marine, but oh well for Gene I will be a marine. At 4pm the platoon and I head out, leaving Gene behind with his face all aglow.
The leader, Trout Slayer, sets a 3 mph pace and we make the 1200 feet and 4 mile jaunt to Crater Creek fast. I sweat a bit keeping up with them, but I do keep up with them. I feel a little pull in my ankle though on every step and begin to wonder if it is going to hold up for the whole trail.
We get to Crater Creek and the camping spot is full. We hike on a bit and find a nice sandy camping spot. My tent stakes don't hold and I find some rocks to hold in the important ones. I send out a message to my husband letting him know we are at camp while the sun begins to make everything golden, but I don't feel golden. After being creeped out at Red's I am really questioning this solo hiking thing. I feel vulnerable. I'm really missing my husband. My ankle is throbbing a bit. I start to cry. I don't want to be worrying that somebody is going to accost me out here. I know it is a ridiculous thought, but I can't really get it out of my head now. My platoon is nice and treat me like a treasured mama, and they say I can just keep hiking with them all the way to Whitney. I really like these guys, they feel like my kids or friends of my kids, but my plan was to hike solo. I don't want to keep shadowing them for my peace of mind. What is the point in that? All of a sudden I decide to just hike back to Red's in the morning and catch the bus back to my car. I want to hike with my husband. I am happy I tried hiking solo, but the winds have changed and my sail leads me north. I'm going home happy.
The guys make a fire and we sit around talking of our high school days and life. It is a nice ending to my hike.