Date: Friday, July 8th 2016
Miles: 878.7 – 891.9
Vermillion Valley Resort – Lake Virginia Remote Camp 891.9
Given the NERO I enjoyed yesterday, this morning I woke up refreshed and ready to go very early in the morning – back to my usual time of 6:30, the morning sun not hindered by mountain ridges and passes, helped to push me out of bed and back into my preferred routine of an early start. Myself and Levi once again jumped in to the restaurant for an early set of breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. I cashed out my tab (aware it would be high, factoring in the food, boat ride ($22) and expensive resupply pickup ($44 a box) but such was the cost of doing business around here. After deciding to grab a slightly later boat, it offered some time to plan the next few days. I had decided that it would be an interesting Zero-Day, to take a rest in Mammoth Lakes – a large established (and premium priced) ski town about 1.5 days ahead. Mammoth has outdoor stores, bars and restaurants and every convenience you could ask for. It seemed that everyone I had met recently was aiming to go into Mammoth for a rest so I happily jumped on the bandwagon – I have not taken a rest day since June 20th so I think it’s overdue after all. With the decision made, target for today adjusted, mileage figured out and kit all packed up, it was time to hit the high seas on Lake Edison once again, the aim was to navigate the magnificent Silver Pass and get as close to Reds Meadow (906.6) as I could. The logical jumping-off point for Mammoth Lakes.
The trail from the Lake Edison ferry “port” was really beautiful, winding back alongside Mono Creek, before ascending a most spectacular granite valley. The trail was beautifully etched into the walls, almost sculpture-like, and in places the stairs wound like a fairytale castle, around white granite precipices with spindly thin bridleveil falls falling over impossible horizon lines down to the valley beneath. The entire scene was empty of people for the most part. An intimate auditorium that I was exploring all on my own.
As the valley eventually continued east, the trail wound above the top of the ridge and entered a moderate climb through a green valley, evolving into the same arid moonscape with scattered snows right before the beautiful Silver Pass.
The pass itself again offered beautiful views ahead, but it was Levi, Mighty Mouse, Legs and a bunch of others, who all opted to hang out at the pass during the hour I was there, that really contributed to the experience. Immense views and interesting, genuine people. We heard of MightyMouse and her airlift, her hospital battle and recovery, after being bitten by a rattlesnake at Cajon Pass in May. We heard of Legs and his plan to hike a little known (to foreigners) cross-Japanese hiking trail after the PCT, we heard of Trout and his fishing expeditions and finally we made the acquaintance of 2 very hardy sub-10 year old hikers who were on a multi-day JMT trip of their own (with some less hardy parents). We lunched and chatted and laughed and I took in a view rarely afforded to such fortuitous company at the same time. A relaxed and carefree moment of the PCT that really reminded me that miles and targets are really only a part of the PCT’s real essence.
As the moment passed and I headed down the trail, I admired a beautiful sky with a sun significantly recessed into the west. I had a later start than planned and a relaxing lunch and I still had some miles to catch up on! The downward trail would pass some snowfields, some beautiful lakes illuminated by the evening light before falling abruptly to Fish Creek, a violent crashing river that seemed singularly mentionable because I don’t think a fish could possibly survive the violent falls that marked its way by the Pacific Crest Trails path. Perhaps Battered Fish Creek might be more appropriate.
With a single long and tiring climb to get to Virginia Lake, I snacked (Snickers are becoming an obsession) and refilled water from Fish Creek only to find lots of trout hanging in the shadows. Later I even met a bunch of fishermen, so obviously the creek has plenty of clever fish, they simply know that no fish ever comes back from a certain point and not to go further!! As I finally ascended the last height, I was afforded a second sunset by the large and impressive Lake Virginia. Around this point Levi also caught up to me, so we decided to find a camp close by and settle in for the night after a distinctly tricky water crossing. With camp setup, dinner made and the luxury of a short walk tomorrow to Reds Meadow, I think things are shaping up nicely for the weekend.