Day 21 – Red Cones to Resupply day at Red’s Meadow!

Before sunrise:


Today is Red’s Meadow Resupply day!! I am so excited that I’m tempted to pack up now, in the cold and the dark, and start hiking! Tempted, but not driven, because that would require venturing out of the warmth of my tent. I already scrambled out to get my bear can and stove and it’s freezing out there! My Nalgene water bottle, which I left next to my tent, has a thin layer of ice floating on top; evidence it was another bitter cold night. But I was prepared, and slept better, in my double socks, rain pants over wool layers and extra trash compactor bag beneath my Thermarest.  I wasn’t warm, but I wasn’t freezing my ass off either.. that’s progress.


Camp at Red Cones


After finishing my coffee and making my usual morning scouting expedition two hundred feet away from the creek I camped near, I discovered a hidden pocket of inspiration in this “most boring section of the JMT”.  As I bumbled through the dense forest of giant conifers and graceful aspens, stepping over felled, rotting victims of the Mountain Pine Beetle, I stumbled onto the edge the most idyllic scene I’d witnessed in days: a tiny meadow cloaked in fog and slumbering peacefully beneath the weight of the frigid night.

Framed by pines on three sides and the Red Cones on the fourth, northwest edge, the meadow gently pooled at the base of the rolling hills.  Her plush golden-green grasses mingled with the glistening morning frost, creating a mystical and other-worldly setting.  I followed a game trail for a couple hundred feet to further admire her muted brilliance as she lay docile in the crystalline morning, patiently waiting for her chance to shine again.  I stood in my tracks, facing her, inhaled deeply and soaked in the silent and mystical scene. This is what I came out here for. Scenes like these and precious moments when nature beckons and envelops me in her majesty; claiming me as one of her own.

Mystical Meadow


Later at Red’s Meadow Resort: My Last Resupply

Red’s was awesome! It was everything I’d hoped Muir Trail Ranch to be and wasn’t, making it that much more awesome! I could have stayed there all day, eating, showering and relaxing, but I had miles to go before I slept! (Love me some Frost!).

After leaving my magical meadow and hiking a relatively easy five miles through a forest of dead trees, (more victims of the drought, fire and the Mountain Pine Beetle), I arrived at the rustic Red’s compound around ten.  It was Labor Day weekend and bustling with tourists spilling out of the log cabins.

My first order of business was a shower. So much for my quest to go thirty days without a shower! Twenty was my limit. I couldn’t stand my dingy, pungent self any longer and couldn’t wait to strip off my filthy clothes and scrub away twenty days of sweat and dirt with hot water and soap!  I even splurged and went for the deluxe fourteen dollar, ten-minute shower (showers are $7 for 5 minutes). It was worth every single token!  Plus,  I multi-tasked and showered with my trail clothes on the floor. So, while I got clean, my clothes got clean too.

Oh. My. God. You don’t know heaven until you have your first hot shower in twenty days. Holy moly! Feeling human for the first time in weeks, I put on the cleanest clothes I had – my hiking shorts and a tank top – stuffed my sopping wet, shower-washed, hiking clothes in the dryer and moseyed to the café in search of a real meal and an outlet to plug in my phone.

The café was bustling with Labor Day resort stayers so I claimed a stool at the counter, against the far wall, near the only visible outlet that wasn’t surrounded by diners.  I debated between the veggie burger and eggs for several minutes and then opted for scrambled eggs, rye toast, home fries and an iced tea, topped off with a not-homemade giant slice of blueberry pie. The pie looked homemade and the crust might have been, but I worked at Dunkin Donuts long enough in my teens, to spot blueberry filling from a bucket, a mile away! It wasn’t very good, but I ate it anyway, adding four packets of sugar on top of it. I don’t usually like super-sweet desserts, but the pie needed it and it made me feel like a real thru-hiker!

After breakfast, feeling fresh and clean and human, I went back into the store to claim my resupply bucket and shop for something yummy.  Carrying my bucket in one hand and a newly acquired bag of Fritos in the other, I plopped down at a picnic table outside the diner to unpack and organize my resupply. I had way too much food! I threw a bunch of leftover food away and added some of my fresh stock to the hiker bucket – which was pathetic compared to the MTR buckets. Rumor has it, that the Red’s staff take stuff out of the buckets and sell it in the store. I hope that’s not true, but that’s the rumor. Judging by the piddly selection, it seems it could be more than a rumor.

The people of Red’s were so friendly and helpful – another contrast to the “get down to business”,  no frills, attitude at Muir Trail Ranch (MTR). Actually, it was more than that: MTR wasn’t hiker friendly at all. Period. They charged an arm and a leg for a resupply bucket and didn’t even provide restrooms or water.  The feeling I got, as soon as I walked through the wooden gate was: “unless you’re spending $200+ to stay in one of our tents, get your shit and move on…”

Red’s was the exact opposite; friendly, outgoing, inviting.  The inherent attitude was, “come, pull up a picnic table and stay a while. Feel free to use our electricity, water and restrooms!”  Yes, I liked Red’s. A lot!


I texted my emergency contact and my friend Steve to update them on my progress.  My emergency contact and I had devised a communication plan: I’d update her with my SPOT tracking system at least every few days and then text her at my resupply points to let her know I’d arrived safely and on schedule (I was two days ahead of schedule).   Steve was picking me up in Yosemite to shuttle me back to Lone Pine to get my car. “I’m at Red’s. Should be in Yosemite Valley in 4 days” , I typed out on my phone. A sadness enveloped me. I don’t’ want to be done! I can’t believe I’m just four days away from completing what I’d dreamed of and planned for nearly a year. WOW.

With much hesitation, I heaved my newly replenished forty-pound pack over my shoulder, buckled in and headed toward Devil’s Post Pile amid happy bouncy tourists. I felt heavy – and it wasn’t just my pack. I sensed that I was marching toward the end of a dream. Toward a new unknown. Toward a life that held nothing that felt worth hiking back to…  Why can’t I stay in the woods…?

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19 comments on “Day 21 – Red Cones to Resupply day at Red’s Meadow!”

  1. I don’t want it to end, either! I’ll confess, I’ve been limiting how many entreis I read at a time to stretch this journey out as long as possible — I know you have several more entries to post — but I just can’t stop reading! Realizing you are just winding up the 2018 RTR (and probably have a ton of work to catch up on) so finishing this story is probably not at the top of your list… but I need to hear the end of the story! LOL! Take care, and happy trails.

  2. Carolyn,
    Thanks so very much for your blog. I made the decision a month ago that I will be doing the JMT solo NOBO in August 2018. I have been reading your entries every morning during my coffee time and I have put the book “Wild” on hold, because I found your experience to be so compelling. Thank you for sharing your honest reactions to the JMT experience. I am so excited about my journey. Why am I doing this? Well that is a long story that I will write down at some point to help me mentally prepare for this. In a nutshell, I have been living with my husband and 12 year old son in Hawaii for 10 years. Paradise? Hell no. Not for me. I crave the mountains, fresh water lakes, rivers and forests of the mainland. I miss unlimited hiking. I feel so trapped here that I literally feel like I’m going crazy. We have tried to leave, but for various reason we have been unable to do so. On the positive side, since coming here 10 years ago, I have gotten more into hiking and backpacking. My first ever trek was a 50 pound pack with boots that didn’t fit and I was miserable! Over the years I have upgraded my gear and have learned a thing or two. Two months ago I did Maui’s only thru hike…I did a 50 miler through Haleakala on a 5-day solo trek. It was a great experience, but I am very tired of doing the same hikes over and over again. I’ve never been able to go any where else. The JMT planning gives me joy. My husband isn’t into this and my son is a little too young for such a long trek, so I will go alone. I’m terrified and elated all at the same time. I will be 45 and I have all of the aches and pains that come with middle age. I will be doing the luxury version of the JMT…hitting all the resupplies, taking layover days and spending 30 days on the trail. I’m certainly not superwoman out there! I’ll likely have to quit my job to do this, but I can’t imagine waiting until I’m in my 60s before I finally get to do something like this. Couple of questions for you if you don’t mind…Did you finish your trek, and if so, do you have any entries beyond Reds? Stupid question…What do you do with the resupply bucket after you have removed all of your new supplies? Is there a place to send it home or do you have to pitch it?

  3. Thank you for sharing your incredible JMT adventure & life revelation. I follow YouTube channel. I am a proud ‘square peg’ Happy Trails to you & Capone !

  4. Carolyn, damn you, damn you. You have kept me up until 3 – 4 in the morning two nights now. I love it, great story. I was thinking of doing the Pacific Crest Trail, but just didn’t get it done. Now I’m afraid that it is all behind me, I am pretty close to twice your age. When i moved from San Jose to Tulsa I was planing on hiking, but realized I would end up walking through the Rockies in January, so changed my mind. I’ve watched many, many of your RV videos on Y/T because in about a month I’m selling my condo and driving away in my RV for full time RVing. I hope to run across you sometime, somewhere. Maybe the RTR in 2019. Being ex-USMC I thoroughly enjoy your salty talk. Thank you so much for a very enjoyable, interesting and unforgettable blog. Tulsatraveler. (Gene)

    1. Gene, holy cow, what a compliment!! Thank you for telling me this. I am thrilled that my writing has kept your interest and kept you awake!! thank you very much for reading and being a part of my RV and YouTube experience too!! Thank you!! *hugs

  5. Noooooo! It’s like someone ripped put the last chapter in a book! As this was 2016 it didn’t occur to me that you hadn’t finished writing about your journey. I have really been enjoying it and can’t wait to hear what happens, I hope you manage to finish it soon 🙂
    Thanks for writing!

  6. Carolyn, I found your blog only this week, I’ve followed your RV you tube channel for close to a year now. I so enjoyed your writing of your JMT hike. Boy did you trigger a lot of life and hiking memories for me. At your age I hiked solo 80 miles in the Grand Canyon. At the time I was the oldest civilian woman to have hiked there in 15 years. Yes, these nature adventures that can grind us into their dust also hone us, sharpen us and purify us and lead us out of our personal wilderness. I may now be too old for the JMT but there are other trails and adventures await. The one I’m planning is a van trip to the arctic ocean via the Alcan and the Dalton hwys. both have some possible hikes and short back packs along the way. Happy trails.

  7. Did you write about your final 4 days and arriving at Yosemite, getting Capone, arriving home and how it felt? I hope so. I’ve follow you all along and now feel the last chapter is missing! It’s been a wonderful and enlightening adventure. I follow you on Carolyn’s RV Living too. Thank you for sharing your travels, your life and thoughts.

  8. I think that I read that near Red’s on the South side was the result of fire, while North of Red’s you go through the windstorm downfall. Both are devastating.

    1. Linda, Yes and I thought I read that the reason the wind storm was so devastating to the area is because the trees were weak from drought and the beetle infestation. I could be wrong, can’t find anything on that now..

      1. That could certainly be a factor — but Wenk talks about this blowdown happening in several areas along the trail. The reason that she said it was so devastating was because it came from a direction different from the prevailing winds, so that trees had not adapted to wind from that direction.

  9. I am thinking that some of those downed trees are the result of the huge windstorm in 2012. We’d been through there the following summer, and it was still a big topic of conversation, and year and a half later. Gust of over 100 mph, I understand.

      1. It is entirely possible that it is “all of the above.” I just remember being told by a ranger about this mammoth windstorm, which broke the trees off like matchsticks.

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