Day 55: mile 873.1 – mile 891.7
Elevation gain: 5,377 ft
Elevation loss: 4,068 ft
And, PHEW…what a whirlwind it was! Only one Pass left when we return to the trail in Yosemite, our legs need a break! We are SUPER excited to now be able to take 4 zeros with the kids in Mammoth (after tomorrow). Our good friends, Rich & Joanne, are so insanely generous to allow us to stay in their beautiful home during our stay…it’s quite the motivator, that’s for sure!
Last night felt like the coldest night on trail, both Link and I thought. Even colder than the 4 nights sleeping on the snow in the desert! The Delorme said it was supposed to be 19 degrees, and it definitely felt like it. After our big day yesterday, and knowing how cold we would be this morning, Link thought we should have 1 coffee in the tent while we were getting ready plus one to walk with…brilliant idea!
My hands weren’t working very well because of the low temp, and my shoes were frozen solid after the wet feet river crossing last night. I physically could not jam my feet in the shoes even though I had opened them as wide as possible before going to sleep last night. So I had to heat them over the stove again (just like in San Jacinto) before I could work my feet in there. So it took us a little longer to get ready, leaving camp at 7:45. We had a campsite in mind for today, which would then set us up perfectly for getting into Mammoth tomorrow. But it meant A LOT of ups and downs, as you can see in the elevation profile:
We started with a climb that was lined with beautiful, tall Aspen…I love the morning light through their leaves! Plus lots of amazing views, which is always the greatest part about climbs.
The first climb today was pretty darn steep, considering we still had a Pass and then another climb later in our future. Plus all the steep descents, as well, definitely didn’t help our already weary legs!
We started our 7th Pass in 7 days at 11:30, Silver Pass (10,934 ft), and it was a butt kicker as well! Tons of granite staircases to walk up, and pretty steep terrain most of the way. Both Link and I thought it was the 2nd hardest Pass, behind Pinchot. Although, was it? Or were we just wiped out after the last week?
We got to Silver Lake, which is only .5 from the Pass, at 2:00 where we stopped briefly for lunch. Thank goodness we are into Mammoth tomorrow because we are out of lunch (jerky, trail mix, and dried pineapple)! It was just too hard to carry enough food for 10 days, so thank goodness we were able to make the miles in just 8 days because the snow was so manageable.
I have to say that this Pass didn’t have the “Wow” factor when we got to the top. The views were definitely pretty, don’t get me wrong, but just not as spectacular as the other Passes. The minimal amount of snow was definitely great for the descent, though, and we were still able to get some beautiful pix of the lakes and valley.
The trail, when we were descending, was super rocky and we were trying to walk fast since we knew we still had one more climb to go. This was extra hard on the legs because we could never just relax and cruise downhill. We really had to concentrate during every step in order to keep from tripping and falling. So by the time we got to the last climb to Virginia Lake, we were both spent and dreading the switchbacks AGAIN…it was 5:00. We both put our PCT jams from Maddie in one ear (she keeps adding music to it which is awesome and oh, so helpful!) and just put one foot in front of the other. It was only 2.5 miles, but 1,400 ft of elevation gain…that’s the kicker!
We made it to Virginia Lake and a great campsite at 6:30…Hallelujah! This lake is stunning, huge, and has my favorite sound of croaking frogs to lull me to sleep. The biggest bummer is that we were literally 100 yards from the tent site when we had a wet feet river crossing…REALLY? I managed to only get one foot wet multiple times while keeping the other one dry so hopefully only one shoe is hard to get on tomorrow. Because it’s cold AGAIN tonight, campers! Double down again for me…I have to say that I’m feeling really tired of being cold all the time. The warm, cozy home of Rich & Joanne is calling our name and we can’t wait to see the kids!!
Thanks for reading, everyone! Double Down