July 30th 2018; Bear Ridge Junction – Somewhere Past Silver Pass: 14.6 miles
Oh what a day. I feel like I can start any of these entries with this phrase, but today was truly some sort of day. I didn’t sleep well last night. With every noise pulling me out of whatever minimal state of unconsciousness I found myself in, I was jolted away with a fight or flight response. Normally I’m fine sleeping in my tent, but last night was not one of those nights. When I finally did doze off, my alarm went off at 4:45am – just in time for an early morning hike to VVR. however, at the same time, I saw that Marybeth had texted me on the Garmin. She’s fine (hallelujah!) but won’t be meeting me at VVR. I went back to sleep, content on skipping the holy grail of stops. I wanted to get to Mammoth ASAP and a frivolous stop for a milkshake and a free beer didn’t exactly fit my plans.
The 5.5 miles to the VVR junction was all downhill. Aggressively so. 3 miles of it was rocky switchbacks. I nearly fell 1/2 a dozen times getting down it. If I was having that hard of a time going down, imagine the poor folks forced to go up it. I passed nearly 20 of them, each one looking more miserable than the last. I even waited for a mule train to pass. I can’t believe these huge animals can navigate such narrow paths. But thank God they do.
I had plenty of time to catch the ferry, however, like I said earlier, my drive to get to Mammoth by Wednesday fueled my drive to continue moving on. That mean a 7 mile 3K’ climb over Silver Pass. Making sure Addie is okay was worth the torture I knew would ensue with this decision.
My whole body was sore and tired from overdoing it yesterday. I attacked this pass with a whole lot less tenacity than I did Selden Pass. I hated nearly every second of it. I found excuses to stop every half an hour (well is refilling water really an excuse? It was hot I was drinking a ton of water!), making the climb take even longer. I take back what I said yesterday about northern passes being gentle and gradual. Leading up to Silver Pass was steep, ungodly so. I suffered today, my friends. But like all the other passes, the suffering eventually came to an end and I made it atop. At 2pm, much later than I would’ve liked. Although it wasn’t my favorite pass to get atop, it did yield one of my favorite views, even with the hazy smoke! At the top, I met Jeb, a fellow NOBO hiker who hiked the trail SOBO in 2016. His pace is much faster than mine, so this is likely the only time I’ll run into him. He left and not soon after, so did I. The rumbling of thunder was heard in the distance and soon rain fell from the sky. Being fully exposed on a pass, I knew I had to get down. Quickly.
I scurried down from the pass as quickly as my tired weary legs would allow. I still had 2.8 miles to my camping spot and most of those miles were exposed. Not where I wanted to be when suddenly right in front of my face lightning danced across the sky. With no option for shelter and honestly quite terrified, I went back to my grade school days and recited the rosary while practically running down the trail. The lightning was nonstop and I couldn’t tell which thunder belonged to which lightning. Didn’t matter, all I knew was the lightning was way too close for comfort. It was just one constant symphony of thunder and I wasn’t too big a fan of the performance. In an otherwise completely safe situation, would’ve been beautiful, but unfortunately, that was not the situation I found myself in. Soon my mad scramble down the mountain led to sporadic bunches of trees. I went from tree to tree until I was safely below the treeline, where I soon found my home for the night. And a perfect home it is! Tucked under some big trees, I was able to set up my tent and stay dry! The storm lasted for about another hour before giving up. And now the sun is shining, of course!
One this I’ve noticed since starting the solo journey is that people going the opposite direction are way more prone to starting a conversation in passing. Not that it bothers me, it gives me a rest and distraction. Plus most of the people are super nice and give me information about what’s happening up North with regards to the fires.
I’m only 20 miles away from Red’s Meadow Resort. I’m planning on getting there tomorrow. Just kidding! It’s a relatively easy 15 miles to a nice looking campground tomorrow – and rumor is there’s a spot a mile before this campground that has Verizon service. I can call and make contact with family and friends!! Plus that makes Wednesday’s journey to Red’s Meadow a pretty easy 5 miles. Perfect! Today was one of my toughest mental days. With a fatigued body and brain, I’m pretty susceptible to my mind going negative. I had a few tearful moments feeling sorry for myself, but got my act together pretty quickly. No tears allowed on the trail!