John Muir Trail, Day 10: VVR to Marie Lake Outlet

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Leaving VVR on Day 10 was a little bit like leaving summer camp, except that you leave with people rather than leaving them behind (ok, except Cole – we left him behind forever! such sadness). Oh, and you actually like those people as opposed to the camp crew. Ok, fine. Maybe my one experience at summer camp was worse than most people’s – I just remember a lot of cattiness and way too many water sports, which I don’t prefer. That’s why I hike…

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Okay, so maybe it’s not like summer camp. Nonetheless, two things were true – 1) it was both exciting and scary to start the last half of this trip, knowing this was the last little bit of “luxury” we’d get for 10 days and 2) when we paid our “tab” at the register that morning (read Day 9 for background), I had this feeling akin to paying a bar tab in college after a night of heavy drinking – “wait, it’s how much?? I swear I didn’t drink that much”… I’m sure Chris had a hissy fit back home when that charge hit our account – I mean how do you spend hundreds of dollars in the freaking woods? Go to VVR, that’s how.

J:  That bill was a bit shocking, but then again, I did buy 12 individual band-aids for like $50.  Ok, so maybe that was an exaggeration, but it was a little ridiculous.  Even though it was a little pricey, I would still recommend stopping at VVR to anyone hiking the JMT.  Friendly staff/volunteers, good food, BEER, comfy yurt (or nice, close backpacker tent area), clean bathrooms/showers, laundry, and stocked supply store.  Just keep better tabs on the cost of everything than we did!

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try really hard not to look at Cole’s pants here. I dare you.

So before we hit the road, we took another group picture. Our family was shrinking! We were leaving Cole behind, and now it would just be the 5 of us until Chris arrived. I should mention here that there was another girl we met at VVR (can’t remember her name…Valerie? Vanessa? Why do I keep thinking it started with V? I guess it doesn’t matter..). She was doing the JMT in something like 10 days, so we didn’t see her again.

J:  It was Alyssa!  We also met Zane and Tamara, the couple from NC who make chocolate (so good). We hung out on the stoop all day while we were all doing laundry.   Those three were super fast, ultralight backpackers so we knew we wouldn’t see them again.  That part might be like summer camp…meeting cool people for a short time and then knowing we’ll never see them again?

Also, I have to call out a sexy new addition to the hike – Jennifer’s new ‘gaiters’ (leg socks). She really splurged on these at VVR – since she wears shorts most of the time, these were supposed to keep the dirt and rocks away, which, even though it might not sound like a big deal, can really be a big deal. I had a dirt tan and rashes for days after this trip because of the dirt, and I wore pants every day – so wearing shorts clearly makes that even worse. We saw quite a few people sporting them on the trail, but no ones were as bad ass as Jennifer’s. I mean – they’re camo – you can’t even see them…

Also, though I never saw the footage, Andrew took an amazing video of Cole when we were leaving. Since the trail head was a ways away from VVR, you get a ride in a truck that takes you to the starting point at Bear Creek Junction, and Cole made a totally cheesy dramatic run for the truck when we pulled out. I imagine it being one of the funnier things in life if I had the chance to watch it in slow motion, and with a perfect 80’s power ballad playing in the background.

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A horizontal rainbow!  What does it mean?

Alright, enough with the rambling. We’ve got to get this thing started. So we got to the trail head as early as we possibly could have. And of course our young whippersnapper friends hauled ass like they were in a race to the finish line as soon as we got out of the truck. Jennifer and I basically waived a “see ya later” and kept our regular pace. Of course, Jennifer will talk more about this in the days ahead, but while the resting at VVR did us both some good, there never would have been enough days to heal the blisters she was getting, so it wasn’t long before that pain kicked in again. Also, our packs were the heaviest this day than they’d ever be on this trip – so that was a major impact especially after a day of laziness. We all weighed our packs upon leaving VVR that day, and we were all terrified. My pack was normally in the mid-30s, but this day it was closer to 40 pounds. And we felt every ounce.

J:  I feel the need to fill in a little bit more background on the debate over the trail options out of VVR.  There were two trails heading out of VVR to connect back to the JMT.  Bear Ridge was shorter but steeper, versus Bear Creek which was about 3 miles longer and less steep.  All day at the “stoop” and later over whiskey, we had been debating as a group which trail to take.  I had gone to sleep that night thinking the group had reached a consensus to take the Bear Ridge trail, which was my preference.  The massive blisters forming on my feet were excited about a shorter hike, even if it was steeper.

I didn’t find out until we were in the truck heading to the trail head that the group had made a last minute change and we were headed to the Bear Creek trail head.  I was not excited, but just had to roll with it since we were committed at that point.   What’s another 3 miles on popping blisters?  Well, I was about to find out.  The locals at VVR did say it was the prettier of the two choices, so at least there would be distractions.

Bear Creek Trail was chock full of waterfalls and beautiful little vistas, so we stopped a little here and there to take some pictures, and during one of the stops we officially met our second set of JMT buddies – a group we called the “Tallahassee Lassies” because we’re cheesy like that. And unoriginal. They were a group of four men (age range probably 50s-60s?) from…..wait for it…. Tallahassee. They told us they do trips like this every year together, maybe not as big as the JMT, but something fun, boys only. I immediately decided to make it a life goal to procure close girlfriends I could do this with again in 30 years.

J:  I’m in!  Those guys were awesome.  I hope we’re in as good a shape and as adventurous as they are in 30 years (probably more like 20…we’re older than you think). 

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our lunch spot – rainbows were just too boring.

I guess we eventually decided we’d seen enough waterfalls, because when we decided we wanted lunch all of them were gone, and we ended up just dumping our stuff down in a nondescript section of the trail and eating right along the trail. We also needed to fill up our water at this point, so it was also here that we chose the hardest spot to get to for water – a teeny creek behind a bunch of briars. You know – starting off from a free day was too easy otherwise – we needed some challenges. Plus, every lunch and water hole can’t be exciting – what ever would we look forward to otherwise??!

I’m pretty sure we made the wiser choice by going the longer, less steep Bear Creek Trail that day as opposed to the shorter, steeper Bear Ridge Trail, but the mileage caught up to us, even if it was only a couple of miles longer. After about 10 miles on the side trail, we finally reached the junction to the JMT and took that opportunity to have a good snack and break. At the junction, we met a solo hiker who wasn’t hiking the JMT, but had been hiking the Tahoe-Yosemite Trail. I didn’t write much about him in my journal (worse historian ever = me), but I remember him having some issue with one of his legs, and we were both pretty impressed that he’d made it as far as he had. He was good people – we chatted for 10 minutes or so, and then made our way south, happy to be back on the JMT and closer to camp.

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on the road/JMT again!

Once we were back on the actual JMT, we had about 6 miles to go before getting to our final stop for the night, Marie Lakes. That part of the trail was really gorgeous – lots of hiking right along Bear Creek, and we took quite a few breaks which made the day long, but really peaceful too, in a way.

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Bear Creek; I just realized this picture is nearly identical to Lizzy’s picture (p.129 in 5th edition)!

One of our favorite stops that day was along Bear Creek where there were a few nice waterfalls and a good place to sit. We filled up our water and just took advantage of a bright sunny spot, sitting to relax in the sun before the final jaunt.

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Given that we’d be hiking about 15 miles on our first day back on the trail, we thought about stopping a little earlier, around the Rose Lake Junction. We ultimately decided against it, since the following day we’d be going over Selden Pass and a decent ways further after that point. It was only a mile or so different, but we’d heard how beautiful Marie Lakes was, so we didn’t want to rush past it in the morning if we didn’t have to.

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We were not disappointed. I think we rolled into camp around 7 that night, certainly later than most days, but we were ok with it given how many times we stopped to enjoy the scenery. Trail life is really odd – even though it was still daylight, there were almost no hikers out at camp – everyone was already in their tents and probably going to sleep for the night. Our pattern wasn’t too far from that, especially on this half of the trip. We thought we saw Brittany and Courtney’s tent a ways away, so we figured we’d see them in the morning before we all took off. We did our normal routine of setting up the tent, cleaning up, and making dinner, but I allowed some time to take some pictures while the sun was setting, too. This section of trail was part of the John Muir Wilderness, and the scenery was definitely noticeably different from Ansel Adams Wilderness – fewer trees, more massive mountains, and more gorgeous expansive alpine lakes.

J: I know we say this a lot, but this day was one of the prettiest days of hiking so far. Horizontal rainbows, hiking along a creek all day, and topping it off at Marie Lakes for a gorgeous sunset.  

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All in all, it was a beautiful day, even though we were both already sore and tired and even more sore from the heavy packs we were now carrying. I was definitely starting to become used to taking 2 ibuprofens at night and 2 each morning as a result of the pain in my feet and mainly ankles each day and was happy that I had a fresh resupply from my VVR package. Jennifer’s blisters were also not better, and there was a lot of talk of exiting the trail during today’s hike, although we both truly hoped that wasn’t going to happen.

J:  I did have a little breakdown when we finally stopped for the night and I took my shoes off to reveal the damage from the long day of hiking on my blistered feet.  I wasn’t sure how much more my feet could take, but I was hoping for the best and really was just too stubborn to quit.

The next day, we decided we’d stop off at the Muir Trail Ranch (MTR), the final true resupply spot on the JMT. We hadn’t originally intended to go, but Jennifer wanted to play it safe and stock up again on blister supplies, and to see if there was anything more hardcore than what was available at VVR. We’d also go over Selden Pass and start to set ourselves up for the more difficult passes along the trail, but also some really notable spots, higher elevation, and amazing scenery.


Day 10 Details (August 3, 2015):

Start-Finish: VVR to Marie Lake Outlet
Daily Miles: 15.2
Mileage Tally: 114.9
Camp elevation: 10,550 ft
Hiking Elevation: 5,070 ft gain; 1,030 ft loss (approximate)

Hey! Here’s a link to all JMT posts for your reading pleasure 😉. You’re welcome.

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John Muir Trail, Day 9: Zero Day at VVR!

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BOOM BITCHES! We posted two days in one freaking week! Take that, internets. —

It’s hard to describe what it felt like to wake up on this ‘zero day’, knowing we didn’t have to take down the tent, find a “bathroom”, or worry about how far we’d get and how long it would take. All we had to do is shower, eat, and wash clothes. Oh, and find the resupplies we’d mailed to ourselves! In short, it felt pretty fucking awesome. We were very proud of ourselves for planning this day of rest, and even more proud of ourselves that we’d actually made it here.

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the yurt

Our living quarters consisted of a round canvas room (a yurt) with a kitchenette and a small outhouse right near the front door. It sounds simple, and it was, but it was so luxurious. The showers were back near the main check-in area at VVR and required quarters to access. They were also timed. We’d quickly learn that the folks at VVR would nickel and dime you everywhere they possibly could – nothing outside of the room itself and the first beer upon arrival was included in the rate. A band-aid would set you back 20 cents (and ask Jennifer – blister care adds up at that place), and a regular diner-style lunch was 20 bucks. They kept a tally on paper of all of your expenses, and we’d pay the day we checked out. This was smart, because it’s easier to rack up a tab if you aren’t paying as you go.

J:  I think my resupply of blister tape, 12 band-aids (yes, you paid for the individual band-aid), and antiseptic cost me about $50…ridiculous, but necessary.  Those folks know how to run a business in the middle of nowhere.   

The yurt was pretty awesome.  It was teeny tiny, but had a real bed and that was more than enough for our tired, beat up bodies.  We both slept so soundly that we didn’t even wake up to all the craziness that happened in the backpackers tent area the night before.  Apparently, one of the hikers got so drunk that he stumbled/fell onto his tent (with his buddy inside asleep) and puked all over their gear.  Needless to say, all the backpackers in the area woke up and were super pissed about it in the morning…especially the friend who got puked on that we met at the laundry room as he was trying to dry his $700 sleeping bag.  

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the view of the “lake” from the yurt

In the morning once we showered, we made our way to find the laundry facilities and the location of our resupply buckets. We found mine pretty easily, but Jennifer’s was buried back in the little shed the resupplies were stored in, which prompted both of us to freak out just a tad, considering her bucket held all the snacks we’d consume for the next 7 days. Two of our friends in SF, Beau and Sheena, has also sent us a care package. Even though we had to pay $20 for every package we had stored, it was well worth the extra few bucks to get a surprise from friends – it was really priceless, actually.

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our letter from friends

Once we had all of our packages in our possession and started laundry, we made our way back to the yurt and tore into it all. It was sorta like the feeling you got on Christmas day, especially if you were like me and already knew what you were getting anyway – it was just fun to open it nonetheless.

In addition to a bunch of awesome snacks (chocolate granola! more Snickers bars! miso soup! bacon jerky! potatoes that just required the addition of water!), we also had a nice letter from Beau and Sheena that was so perfectly timed, we thought they’d been spying on us. You see, Jennifer and I both knew that we’d get on each other’s nerves at some point. I mean, we were basically together nonstop and torturing our bodies along the way, so it’s not surprising that people who get along relatively well in the real world get annoyed with one another on the JMT. (Note again: for those of you planning this hike, or something similar, choose your hiking partner wisely! It can make or break this adventure!) That said, the words “stay good to each other” made us both start crying like little bitches. All in all, we’d actually gotten along pretty well up until this point, but the day away from the trail was well-timed not just from a physical standpoint, but also mentally. We just needed to refuel and regroup, and this letter reminded us of how awesome we both were, and how cool it was that we were doing this together. Then we proceeded to tear into the chocolate granola. Obvi.

J:  YES, that little extra care package was just enough to make us both feel better.  Like H said, we knew we’d annoy the shit out of each other at some point over stupid stuff, but we’d get over it as good friends do.  A few words to make us both tear up, hug it out, and then it was all out of our system.  Back to focusing on the food!

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resupply supplies

As you can see from the above picture, we had a decent amount of organizing to do that day, too. We’d been hiking long enough by this point to know what we did and didn’t want to eat any longer, as well as whether the serving sizes were the right size. So we laid it all out and tried our best to make sure that we only carried what we knew we’d eat for the next 7 days, keeping in mind that once we left VVR, we didn’t have a place to unload trash or unwanted food until we hit the end of the JMT. We ended up with a decent amount of extra food, and were able to hand some off to our buddies, and the rest went into the “free hiker bin” out front. So yeah, there was a free bin, but it generally contained old food and stuff that people didn’t want or recognize. I’m sure people appreciated our bags since they were labeled with the name of the dish, amount of water needed, and time require to rehydrate. Yes, friends, my OCD tendencies came through here, but I was totally ok with that.

The worst part about VVR is the absolute lack of cell signal throughout the property. Of course, they allowed you to buy internet in hourly increments (another $20) or for a day ($100). Total ripoff, right? Every so often, you could find a spot with service, but you had to talk fast and stay still. Using this very scientific method, we were both able to use one of our phones to talk for a few minutes at a time to Chris & Jon, and briefly to some family, but it ultimately was too frustratingly painful to do that for long. I eventually caved in and got an hour of wi-fi, and Chris and I texted back and forth for most of the hour to make sure we had everything in line for the meet-up with him (again, this was our last chance to talk to him before he met us).

J:  It was unexpectedly hard for me to have almost zero contact with my husband or my family during the last 15 days of the hike.  I think I needed my husband, my sisters, or my parents to give me an outsider’s opinion on my blister situation or a swift kick in the ass to encourage me to toughen up and finish this thing.  It seems stupid looking back on it now, but I was mentally struggling at this point and really starting to worry about my feet making it to the end.  At least there was cold beer and whiskey to ease the pain…for now.

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whisky on the porch with Cole

Of course, we also spent some time with our buddies. Brittany, Courtney, and Andrew had all arrived the day before, as did we, and Cole arrived super early the morning of our free day. He had reservations and a planned zero day the following day, so now he’d found himself with an extra day! Super cool; he’d considered hiking out with us the following day (ok, maybe he considered it for 2 seconds), but he was meeting his girlfriend later on, so it just made more sense for him to chill here, because ultimately he’d get stuck hanging out somewhere if he left with our group.

When we weren’t organizing our resupply or eating, we were doing laundry. There were only 2 washers and 2 dryers, so you kinda had to hover. As a result, we spent a few hours just hanging out on the stoop outside the laundry room. It was here that I was able to teach people about the TV show, 227, because I made a joke that us hanging outside on the stoop reminded me of that show. This is also where I totally revealed my age….and knack for finding quality tv.

J:  227!  I still can’t believe people didn’t catch that reference.  It’s off the meat rack, or whatever NC phrases you pulled out of your back pocket hanging on the stoop! 🙂

At the end of the night, we shared some of our whisky with the group outside of their tent/room/whatever you call it (picture above). We had a couple of options regarding our exit strategy the following morning, so we took some time to figure out what we all wanted to do, and decided we’d just all do the same thing and come to an agreement. Ultimately, we chose the route that was a little bit longer, but less steep. Who knew if it would be the better option – we’d soon find out, since we were getting up pretty early the next morning, with over 150 miles to go. Zero day was quickly coming to an end!


Day 9 Details (August 2, 2015):

Start-Finish: Vermilion Valley Resort
Daily Miles: ZERO!
Mileage Tally: 101.2
Camp elevation: 8,000 ft

John Muir Trail, Day 8: Lake Virginia to Vermilion Valley Resort

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I have to briefly continue the conversation from the last post, because Jennifer and I hung out together a couple of weeks ago and we were joking about the final section. I honestly did not remember the gigantic blow-up that we had, but it’s probably safe to say that it had something to do with my piss-poor tent-pitching skills (or at least, failure to meet Jennifer’s unusually high hygienic standards when it came to tent-pitching. Her husband’s nickname for her (“shit pig”) was not lived up to like I’d expected, and feared. I guess that’s a good thing, in many ways.). Anyway, I didn’t write anything about it in my journal, but I’m sure she was right. We were definitely in need of a physical and emotional break from the trail.

J:  here we go with the tent thing again… 🙂  I think the biggest issue was wanting a break from the long days of hiking, sore feet, and needing a beer!

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Not a bad view, eh? This is Lake Virginia first thing in the morning

Ok, with that covered, let’s get on to talking about the longest day in all of creation – Day 8 of the JMT. This was probably the earliest we’d actually gotten on the trail – 6:30am – because we knew we had some hardcore hiking to do. We weren’t sure if we’d see Brittany, Courtney, and Andrew at VVR that night, as their original plan was to arrive early the following morning, but we’d said our goodbyes the night before and knew we’d see them that day or the following at VVR.

Back before the big California drought, there used to be a giant lake (Edison) right near Vermilion Valley Resort, and you could wait at one end for a water taxi to take you straight in to the resort, saving tired hikers a good 4 miles of hiking, and getting them to a cold beer an hour or two quicker. Those days, we learned, were no more – the lake was so dried up that the taxi wasn’t even guaranteed to be running, and if it was, it wasn’t nearly as awesome as it was since it only covered about half of the lake.

I tell you this because it led us all to considering alternate routes in an effort to shave off a little time. The typical route on the JMT would take you up and over the first official pass of the JMT, Silver Pass, but it required a significant amount of elevation, and we wouldn’t get to it until the afternoon, which, to make this day even more awesome – it was threatening to rain again according to the weather when we checked at Red’s. So we’d done some research earlier and ultimately, Jennifer and I decided to re-route and head to VVR via Goodale Pass, hopefully saving some time and some precious miles.

Side note: We later learned that the husbands and other stalkers trackers of our route via the Spot device we carried were less-than-pleased this day, as there was concern we’d taken the “wrong” path and wandered off the JMT accidentally (this was one of my reasons against carrying that damn thing – unwarranted worry among friends and parents. clearly I lost that battle, didn’t I??!).

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heading down to Tully Hole, one of my favorite morning hikes.

Despite this being the longest day on earth, I have to admit that this was one of my favorite days, scenery-wise, up to this point. We started the morning with a short ascent (you know we always LOVE getting our blood pumping first thing!) and then began a beautiful descent into Tully Hole. The pictures never adequately show how truly amazing these views are – lush green trees, little rivers (streams?), and gorgeous mountains – I couldn’t stop staring down, but I realized I had to given the fact that the trail itself was pretty narrow.

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view down to Tully Hole

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okay, one more. I can’t help myself.

We eventually got far enough down that the beauty of that area around us was quickly overshadowed by a wet, muddy, mosquito-laden swamp – Tully Hole. Ugh. It wasn’t ugly, I mean, this is the JMT after all, but damn, I thought I’d escaped the mosquitoes. I couldn’t get through this area fast enough, only after we got out of “the hole”, we were met with a swift kick in the ass by means of an ascent up to Squaw Lake.

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Squaw Lake, a great spot for some trail mix!

We were really happy to get to Squaw Lake, and although we had a lot more hiking to do that day, we took advantage of the scenery and had a mosquito-free break. Brittany and Courtney had caught up to us by this point (surprise!), so we talked to them briefly – they were going the regular route over Silver Pass, still unsure if they’d go to VVR.

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and a bird bath for Brittany and Courtney 😉

J:  Look at how inviting that water looks!  By this time, the blisters on my feet were getting pretty bad.  It took me about 1/2 an hour each morning to bandage them up and get my feet into my shoes.  So while the idea of soaking my feet in the water or going for a swim in the crystal clear Squaw Lake in the background was SUPER tempting, the fact that I was running out of bandages trumped all that.  This spot, and the morning hike up to it, sure was beautiful though!

While reading about the alternate route to Goodale Pass, we’d become aware that the trail wasn’t well marked, and the last thing we wanted was to get lost on an already long day. So we walked super slow (slower than usual) and came across a blatantly obvious sign within a short period of time. Apparently a lot of people had missed the sign, so a shiny new one was put up just in time for our adventure. Shew!

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We saw the sign, and it opened up our eyes, we saw the sign!

The hike up to Goodale Pass was so different, terrain-wise, from any part of the trail we’d covered thus far. It was completely exposed, hot, unshaded, and dry. It was also fairly steep, so this was one of the times that Jennifer and I separated a little bit and turned on our own tunes for some motivation.

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heading up to Goodale

Before too long, we came across the clearing and a huge group of people sitting around like they didn’t have a care in the world. We happily stopped and chatted with them for a few minutes – they were day hikers who’d come up the other side of the pass. At this point, the weather was clear, the sun was shining, and the rest of the day was going to be a cake walk….

J:  I had a love/hate relationship with Goodale Pass. It was hot as balls going up it for some reason.  It might have been because we were climbing in the middle of the day instead of first thing in the morning like we’d gotten used to.  It made a huge difference. BUT, we passed a few lakes along the way and if you stopped to look back and check out the view (quite frequently like I did…for the view, not to catch my breath), it was pretty amazing.  You could see all three lakes right before we got to the top of the pass, but I don’t think I got a picture of it because the top sort of crept up on us and then the view was gone.  I sure as hell wasn’t going back down for a photo.  Not that the view at the top was really all that bad either…

Also, the group we met at the top assured us that it was only 6-8 miles back to VVR instead of the 10 miles we were planning, so we were more than excited about that.  Unfortunately, that was a load of bullshit.  BUT at that moment, we were relieved to think we’d be at VVR for the much-anticipated Saturday night BBQ!

I can’t believe I forgot that those day hikers were asshole liars. It’s like the most horrible version of the “mile/mile and a half” statements all of us hikers make (and yes, we did say that quite a few times!).

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gorgeous view at the pass. clear skies for days. or hours… womp womp.

The trip down and over the pass started out relatively uneventfully. It was open, grassy, a little more steep on the descent than we’d liked, but not too bad. And then we hit the woods, and the clouds appeared, getting darker by the second. Pretty soon (ok, maybe a couple of miles, but it felt fast) the rain came down and this quickly turned into a pretty miserable hike. Of course, it didn’t help that we were still gradually going downhill, which meant we couldn’t walk as fast as we wanted to since it was wet and slippery. So awesome. It also didn’t help that we weren’t sure how much farther we had to go, since this was a less-than-optimally-marked alternate trail. But we knew we were on the right path, and we knew we were getting closer and closer, and more soaked by the minute. But that free day was coming!

J:  Hiking downhill is typically pretty awesome compared to hiking uphill.  Not with blisters.  It seems like blisters hurt 25 times worse going downhill.  Add rain, hail, thunder/lighting forcing us to pack up the hiking poles that I was using as crutches (because we were afraid they’d attract lightning and kill us before we could eat the bbq), and the blisters on my feet hurt about 50 times more than usual.  So, yeah, no.  This was not a fun part of the day.  I’d go ahead and say it was the worst part of the trip so far.

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best sign of the day!

J:  The end is never the end…this sign was at the parking lot at the trail head.  We soon discovered it was another mile (or felt like a mile) to actually get to VVR.  We were SO close! And check out that fancy rain cover making its appearance again!

Finally, after literally 20 miles of hiking, we saw what can only be described as the hiker’s version of the Emerald City. We heard people singing, glasses clinking, music playing, and my oh my, we saw real freaking food. The coolest part was that we got a round of applause when we walked up – it was a mighty good feeling.

Not long after we practically threw our packs on the ground, (I hadn’t named her yet, but soon-to-be Sophie was a real bitch that day and she deserved it) we plopped down with a stranger who we later learned was hiking the JMT south-to-north and grabbed a beer and dinner. We were hoping for BBQ since it was Saturday which was supposedly “BBQ night”, but for whatever reason they didn’t have it that night (I honestly can’t remember why – maybe Jennifer does..). I don’t even know what I ate that night, but it hit the spot, even if it was overpriced and probably not really that great in the grand scheme of things – it wasn’t dehydrated, and it was washed down with cold beer!

J:  FREE cold beer (the 1st one anyway), beef brisket, potatoes au gratin, and apple pie a la mode. They didn’t have a full-out BBQ because they didn’t have enough volunteer staff to work (at least I think that was the lame reason), but I still remember what I ate.  The brisket was a rock and cost $20, but worth it.

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the outside “dining area” at VVR

About an hour after we arrived, Brittany and Courtney showed up – super tired and super wet, just like us. Andrew had made it a little earlier, because, you know – Andrew. All in all, we were all glad to be there and to have a completely free day with absolutely no hiking the following day. The hardest thing we had to do was shower and wash our clothes. And eat ;).


Day 8 (August 1, 2015):

Start-Finish: Lake Virginia to Vermilion Valley Resort
Daily Miles: ~18.0
Mileage Tally: 101.2
Camp elevation: 8,000 ft
Hiking Elevation: 2,247 ft gain; 4,803 ft loss