The same Ranger we had been leapfrogging yesterday caught up with us in the meadow after Miller Lake, where he had been aiming to camp yesterday. He told us he hadn’t managed to make it, being tired and ready to finish. He also revised his plans for his 3 day trip, originally heading for Benson Lake which would have been a 23 mile day for him today, but now stopping at the closer Smedburgh Lake. We should pass both lakes today but we don’t have to come back as well!
On the climb, I lost the trail several times as it passed over huge rocks which aren’t easily marked. I ended up walking up these rock faces to the top of hill to get vantage point. Often it happened that the trail went fairly close to where I’d climbed anyway, so I probably shaved off a few yards from the hike.
Just over the crest of the hill, I came across horses blocking the trail, the first horses I’ve seen for a while and the first group with an extra horse for rotation or carrying packs.
Part way down the extraordinarily steep downhill, we met a particularly cheerful family who recommended Benson Lake as a camping spot. Their happy faces belied the climb they had just come up!
As we walked through the forest, I noticed bear scratches on trees, and thought about how ideal this place would be for bears. They are particularly active near Tuolumne but less so this far out.
The early finish to the day means we had the chance to do chores like sewing, as well as walk back to the creek to do laundry. However I don’t think it will become a feature. If I’m done at 5pm, I haven’t done enough miles. Today has been a nice easy day, which provides some recovery time for me, but it isn’t a good pace for normal days. Normal service to be resumed after the next resupply point.
Camping: Mile 973