Vermilion Valley Resort(878.5)-Just before Silver Pass(882.5)
Today’s Mileage: 4mi(plus 1.5mi side trail)=5.5mi
I got up early at VVR and was there right when they shut on the electricity at 7am. They are so far from civilization that they have a generator that runs during the day and gets shut off each night. I am sooo lucky that they let me use a laptop to get my journals online. It was a pain to retype them, but I thought it went well with the theme of the Sierras this year. Everything will take twice as long and be twice as exhausting. I finished uploading everything in the morning and Top Shelf’s mom had made breakfast for the hikers. It was a great egg scramble with blueberry muffins. Mmmm! Thanks again for the trail magic!
Some hikers left on the morning ferry back to the trail. Here is a picture of Lake Edison where the ferry runs and the view from VVR.
My plan was to leave on the afternoon ferry with most of the other hikers including Balls and Sunshine (who I will hike with for the next week). A big group of the hikers piled in the large car Top Shelf’s family had and went on a day trip to Mono Hot Springs. I was pretty tired and wanted to relax so I stayed back and loved doing absolutely nothing. Ahhh!
By the time we got back on the PCT, it was about 4:45pm. We knew that Mono Creek was coming up quick and that we’d need to cross it multiple times. Crossings can be worse in the evenings, so we were prepared to camp and cross in the morning if needed. After talking to some JMTers at VVR, we got tips on what to expect. The only other PCT hiker that left on the same ferry as us was Jams. He got itchy feet and left without No Babies who he had been hiking with. I think we all had the goal of getting in about 5mi and going through the fords before camping. An easy short hike…but this year nothing can be assumed!
We hiked uphill quite a bit and got our feet wet early and often with much water on the trail. The first crossing went well because a large tree was there to safely walk over. The second one was much further than we hoped and when we got to it, Jams was searching for a spot to cross. It was starting to look like we might have to camp there and cross in the morning when the water level would be lower. Then Jams just picked a spot and went for it. It was a struggle for him and suspenseful to watch, but he made it. We were definitely not crossing there and he agreed it was not safe. We told him to hike on and we’d look up and downstream. We were able to go a hundred yards downstream to where it branched out. We were in a canyon area with no sunlight and it was already getting cold. Whenever there is a ford, poor Balls has to cross three times. Once to take his backpack across. Once to go back to get Sunshine. And finally, a third bone chilling time to aide Sunshine across. This one had three branches, so Balls was in very cold water a long time and it was often thigh high. It took a good 30min and we got through it. We all were happy to get it done today instead of the morning, but it was by far our coldest crossing and our legs and feet had the pins and needles feeling. We were on steep switchbacks with nowhere to camp and had to continue on with numb feet. We came to a large waterfall that we knew we’d also have to cross. It was so large and powerful that I needed my rain jacket because it was like walking through a freezing cold rain storm with water up to my mid thigh at points. Again, Balls had to cross three times and he looked hypothermic when he finished. Here are the two of them crossing.
Balls couldn’t even warm up and was still shaking after we went up more switchbacks. He had to stop and take off his wet shirt to put on more layers and his down jacket. I was really cold and so was Sunshine, but she was handling it amazingly! We just focused on marching on and finding a spot to camp after the switchbacks.
The switchbacks finally ended and we turned a corner to find endless deep snow! NOO! It was really getting torturous and worrisome that we wouldn’t find a place off snow and we were seriously all very cold and wet.
We saw a tent in the distance and it was Jams. He had found a spot by a tree that had melted just enough to fit his tent. We had to cross another creek and this one was deep, but calm. It went up to my belly button and then my legs and feet were completely numb! Plus, there was cold, wet, mushy snow everywhere! We found two spots that were melted near trees and quickly disrobed and got our dry warm clothes on. I yelled over to tell Jams we had arrived and he sounded relieved. I told him we were quite cold and he said he was really cold too.
Where we are camped, it is hard rock under the snow and pine needles, so I was lucky to be able to get my stakes to stay in the snow around my tent. Balls and Sunshine have to cowboy camp cause they couldn’t get their stakes in the ground. Brrr! It was 9pm and none of us wanted to leave our non snowy patches to get cooking water, so we just ate snacks and went to bed. I’m not even brushing my teeth!
Our clothes are soaked and it is quite a cold night, so I’m going to hike in my rain pants tomorrow until the sun dries my other pants. My feet are still numb as I type this! I’m so glad to be in my warm and dry sleeping bag! What a crazy 5.5mi!