Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 13 and 14 - Resting at Muir Trail Ranch

These days are absolutely wonderful.  I actually made it to the half way point and on time, no early.  I clean myself and my tent, go back to the hikers resupply area at the ranch and get Ramen Soup, some different bars and oatmeal with flavor - I have the best breakfast and lunch.  Nobody is left in the campsite and so I get to have it to myself.  I climb up the rocks, go for short walks, dip into the river, go across to the hot springs and I read 2 books that I picked up.  I am on vacation!  The ranch is about a half mile from the camping area and so I feel like I get to travel between 2 worlds.

The hikers area is so well organized.  Upon presenting the receipt from mailing the bucket and having paid the fee to the Ranch, they produce the bucket.  Then there are various tables and benches protected from the rain with an awning where we hikers can repack and sort through what we want and what is too much.  Then there are at least 20 buckets that are filled with what hikers have left behind - from toiletry to food to first aid - one entier bucket is filled with oatmeal, another with peanut butter, maps, batteries, gas canisters for the stoves… abundance.  The Ranch itself has to get the buckets by either riding on horseback or in a huge 4 wheel drive truck to Lake Florence, then the ferry across the lake, then a drive to the next post office.  The 65$ fee is well worth it.  Everybody is resupplying here and so it's a great information exchange and food exchange place.  During my second night at the campsite which is under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service, I meet 2 young people who are rangers and ask for my permit, clean up and also reassess the impact of camping.  They are saddened that the area they closed off to camping to have the ground recover and regenerate has been ignored and camped on again.  This campsite is so overused and impacted, it will be hard to find alternative places.  

I also meet a father and son from austria who are traveling with pounds of bread, glass jars of jam and butter, musli and schnapps.  They are in great shape and the familiar food seems to work for them - it's just so heavy.  I give them some of my nuts and chocolate and they are delighted.  Some groups are here to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and have shipped wine and delicacies to celebrate.  There is a festive mood tonight.  The weather has been better so we can relax and hang out without having to scan the sky and be with one foot in the tent.  Another solo woman is quite frightened.  She stayed up on Sally Keys the night I decided to come here and was thoroughly hailed on, almost got hypothermia and had lightening strike close to her.  We talk and share our stories and she is off the next morning, trying to see if she can join other smaller groups rather than hike alone.  I am so glad I decided to come down here.  Another good decision.  

The next day it's my time to enter luxury otherwise known as the Muir Trail Ranch.  After a great breakfast I pack up and walk over to the Ranch where I am given a tour of the buildings.  Such a lovely site along the river and across the mountain range.  It is a fully working ranch with at least 20 horses to ride on and to use as pack animals animals.  I get into my small hut and - first things first - do laundry while the sun is out.  The laundry consists of an old washing machine that I have to fill with water from a hose, then push a button to start what is a huge paddle inside that shakes the clothes back and forth.  Then through a set of rollers that squeeze the water and soap out and back into the machine for rinsing.  My grandma had one of those so I love using them.

Then shower and into the hot springs.  On the ranch they have created the most amazing baths with the hot water.  They are private and are designed incorporating trees, flowers, candles and a rinsing area. They are open to the sky and to the mountains and I go mamnh times during this day, the night (stars and moon while soaking in the hot water) and the next morning.  This is the perfect place for romance with ones' soul, body and spirit or another person - for those who look for a retreat, wedding or honeymoon place, consider this!!  I will be back!!

And then the food - delicious, abundant, healthy, tasty. The communal dining room is right out of a movie as is the camp fire ring outside and the living room with books, fire place and comfy chairs.  Cats and dogs everywhere and always the view of the river and mountain. I eat, chat, laugh, drink, cuddle with cats and dogs, spend time with the cooks in the kitchen and reluctantly go to bed - only to get up again to go back to the hot springs.

(My camp site and rocks)

(My hut at the Ranch and view from the porch)

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