Day 11: 8.9 miles, 114.8 cumulative, Evolution Creek to Sapphire Lake (10,966′)
Nathan and I woke, ready for another wet crossing. Evolution Creek is considered another dangerous ford, but there is an alternate “meadow” crossing that is safe. So we waded through. It was two wide tributaries of the creek, nearly crotch high and cold…but safe.
Day 9: 11.2 miles, 97.7 cumulative, Bear Creek to Muir Trail Ranch (8200′)
River crossings in June and early July had been crazy due to the record snow, with reports of hikers being swept away. By the time we hit the trail the rivers had calmed, but were still very high, and Bear Creek was rumored to be dangerous. NOBO hikers had told us there was a log crossing, so I crawled out of bed into the damp morning and started searching for it. I hiked downstream maybe a quarter mile and found a large downed tree. From where I was it looked like the top went underwater. There was also a small island in the middle and I couldn’t see how to cross the other side of the river. But, its the best we had. The crossing at the trail definitely looked too swift to try.
Day 7: 7.3 miles hiked, 74 cumulative, Silver Pass Lake to VVR (7600′)
This day would take us to Vermillion Valley Resort. It is a remote back country resort that is super friendly to thru hikers. A ferry picks up hikers on the east side of Edison Lake twice a day and ferries them across, so we had until 4pm to get to the pick up spot.
We had our daily routine down, but we were never fast movers in the morning. It was light by 5:30 am and I was awake by 6:00 every day. By 6:30 I was usually up to relieve myself and would start boiling water. I had coffee and Nathan had hot chocolate, if only to warm up and get us going. It was always cold in the mornings, our down puffy jackets and wool beanies a must for exiting the tent. We studied the map while we ate breakfast, deciding how far we would go and where we would try and camp that night. Mentally preparing for hard climbs or rivers crossings. Then we would pack up and be on our way by 8-ish.
Day 5: 12.7 miles hiked, 59.2 cumulative, Crater Meadow to Lake Virginia (10,330′)
We had planned on camping at Purple Lake, but passing hikers told us Lake Virginia was really gorgeous so that’s where we headed. This day held no great mountain passes for us, but it did offer us nearly 3000′ of elevation gain over the day. It was really our first hard day, and I found it really difficult. I learned that I don’t really enjoy endless climbs. I am slow and always out of breath. Nathan would hike ahead, then rest while I caught up. Then we would repeat 900 times. But always there would be extraordinary views to reward us and the pain of the climb would be (somewhat) forgotten.
Day 3: 11.2 miles hiked, 38.2 cumulative, Thousand Island Lake to Trinity Lakes outlet (8990′)
I crawled out of bed early into a crisp cold dawn. I snapped some more pictures of Thousand Island Lake in the morning light and drank my coffee in the quiet. I relished the beauty and the peace of the Sierras. Eventually the cold and breakfast brought me back to task. We packed up and hit the trail, getting into the routine of hiking. It was a day for lakes as we passed six gorgeous bodies of water, crystal clear mirrors of the Sierras.