Day 58 – May 31, 2022
Mile 878.7 (VVR) to 884.4
5.7 trail miles | 11.9 tracked miles | 3,460 ft elevation gain | 80.6 F / 27 °C
I have reached a point in my hike where I realize that I sleep better in the wilderness than at a hotel. While my bed at Vermillion Valley Resort was objectively more comfortable than my 3-inch sleeping pad, I’m a warm sleeper and always end up sweating in hotel beds. I love the fresh air in my tent. Besides, every time I leave the trail, I suffer from “jet lag.” On the trail, I live by the sun, waking up around 5am and going to bed around 8pm. It’s practically impossible to maintain this schedule in real life due to the desire to socialize and access Wi-Fi, among other distractions.
Hunger, however, consistently strikes.
After devouring pancakes, bacon, and hash browns this morning, I was still hungry and ordered biscuits and gravy. Just as breakfast was wrapping up, the kitchen announced that they had leftover batter—free pancakes for everyone! I indulged with gratitude.
I lingered and chatted with fellow hikers. We reflected on the fact that we would never be able to eat as much again once we returned to normal life. We have basically become garbage disposals.
It enjoyed a lazy morning, and didn’t leave until 11:30am.
Instead of retracing my steps through the decrepit forest road and the flooded Bear Ridge Trail east of Lake Edison, I decided to take a flatter and drier route west of the lake.
The path hugged the lake and should have offered excellent views. Unfortunately, the area near VVR was badly damaged in a fire a few years ago.
The water level at Lake Edison was a striking reflection of the severe drought that has been affecting California. VVR has been unable to operate their ferry in these shallow waters for the past two years.
I rejoined the PCT at mile 879.9, which means that I skipped 3 PCT miles—purists be damned! However, the detour through VVR added close to 12 bonus miles to my journey.
As soon as I rejoined the Pacific Crest Trail (also known as the John Muir Trail in the High Sierras), the path started climbing again.
My pack felt absurdly heavy. I arrived at VVR with leftover food and picked up a resupply box, so I am carrying roughly five days’ worth of food for the 40-mile stretch to Mammoth Lakes.
Fortunately, the trail was relatively gentle, and despite many water crossings, I was able to maintain a good average speed. I ended up pushing past my intended campsite for the night.
Ultimately, I stopped just half a mile shy of Silver Pass, near Silver Pass Lake, at an elevation of 10,400 feet, on a tiny dry island within a large snowfield. Camping so close to the pass might be asking for trouble, but the skies are blue, and according to the weather forecast, it is highly unlikely to snow overnight.
Silver Pass Lake is still frozen. I collected melting snow for my dinner, and took my coldest backcountry “shower” so far!
Should the stars align, I might be able to reach Mammoth Lakes tomorrow evening. The last bus to town leaves the trailhead at 5:30pm, but I do love a good challenge. We’ll see what the trail throws my way!