Since I'd pretty much emptied my entire backpack trying to find my missing utensils and had to repack from scratch, it took me a little longer than I'd hoped to get ready, but I was still ready to hit the trail by 8am. Good thing, too, because it was a hotter day. And it wasn't long before I was contending with a blazing sun.
Shortly after that, the whole personality of the trail changed, and I found myself in a gorgeous meadow, where I once again started seeing more bushes and flowers than rocks.
I meandered through the meadow, feeling pretty good and carefree. Beautiful day, beautiful surroundings, and I was covering good ground without feeling too winded or overwhelmed.
And then, confusion struck!!!
I reached a point of the trail that was blocked off by a fence. Huh??? What's going on here??? As a newbie, I knew nothing about drift fences. And I didn't see any way through it, even when I went along the fence line for a bit. After several minutes of trying to figure out what was going on, a couple caught up to me, and we all climbed over the fence using some adjacent rocks. Though now, in hindsight, I realize that the fence was meant to be opened right there at the trail. Live and learn, right?
Anyway, soon after that, I reached the point where the Rae Lakes Loop intersects with the John Muir Trail... and it was on to the suspension bridge that leads from the north side of Woods Creek to the south side, where the campground is situated.
When I came back from the river, where I'd been doing a bit of pumping and washing, there was a group of campers all gathered. I went over to see what was going on, and that's when they told me a bear had just been there -- and actually, had explored the area where I'd pitched my tent! But apparently, the bear had simply been on a scouting mission and didn't find anything worth fighting for, because he didn't return again that night.
Still, that made for kind of a nervous evening as the setting sun turned the mountain peaks a beautiful shade of red...
Final stats: 8.16 miles in 5:16:20, with a net elevation gain of 1,847 feet.