Date: July 5, 2017
Miles: 16.3 miles (26.2km), from mile 881.1 over Silver Pass to 897.4.
Health: Low energy day. Twisted my right knee on the snow, it hurts but doesn't affect hiking on trail.
I woke up without the alarm at 4am. Somehow I had forgotten to set my alarm. I saw no lights or movement in other tents so I slowly started to change back to my hiking cloths in my sleeping bag. The nights aren't that cold, but it still feels pretty cold when you have to come out of the warmth of your little down haven.
Fifteen minutes later Blis comes to wake me up as I was preparing without a headlamp, it must have looked like I was still sleeping. I setup my gear leisurely and like a clockwork, everyone's ready to leave at 5am. Just like we agreed. Such a punctual group!
Our first obstacle for the morning is getting up the steep mountain face to the waterfall. We can't use the trail as it's at the other side of the big river, and then we would have to cross the more dangerous waterfall.
We climb up on all fours until we find the trail again. Few more switchbacks and we can tell by the sound that we're getting closer to the waterfall. And there it is.
The water we have to wade through is not so deep, but the force of the water, the mist, and the shear drop from the other side, make it quite impressive. And in we go. It's nice to get an ice cold waterfall bath first thing in the morning. Really wakes you up!
We all cross it quite easily and then it's on again. Happy Feet leads the way as he's hiked this section before and due to the snow, there's a lot of trail and way finding to do. Soon we reach the snow level and it's on with microspikes. It's still so early that the snow is hard and icy. The spikes have a good hold on the surface and it's easy to walk as you don't fall through the surface yet.
We have little bit over 1,000 feet climb up to the pass, meaning this is one of the easiest passes we've done. The climb is again quite uneventful. We cross endless snowfields and sun cups and climb up without seeing the trail.
Silver Pass has kind of an false summit. You climb up to what you think is the pass, only to realize you still have more to climb. It doesn't take us long and soon we're at the top of the pass. This was our last pass before Mammoth.
After a little snack break, and yoga by Airplane Mode, we start heading down. There seems to be a lot of snow on this side of the pass. We walk down the still icy snow but the sun is already out and slowly melting it. Soon we reach a spot that gets us all smiling. Looks like we're going to get to do some epic glissading.
We have to go down these long, steep snowfields and they look absolutely perfect for asspath. One by one we hit the first one and it's a great one. Long and fast. There's a short walk and then we hit another one, this time even longer than the first one. These are my favorite moments up here!
We get to do few more glissades and then the trail falls back to the woods. We do the usual on-off trail walking. We find the trail for awhile and then it disappears under the snow and we won't see it for a while. Then we get back on it and again it disappears. This goes on all day long.
There's still a lot of snow left and it makes making any progress slow and hard. I feel like we have to work at least three times as hard for the miles here, than we had to in the desert.
At times we climb down steep hills as we can't find the trail or it's somewhere buried under the mountains of snow.
We take a lunch break next to a bridge. I feel tired. Sierra at this time of the year, and with the record snow, is really hard. We climb 5-7,000 feet of elevation every day, and most of that in deep snow. You can definitely feel all that after a long day.
After the lunch we start climbing again and reach the snow, again. The area we are hiking through is covered with beautiful lakes. Sadly they are all almost frozen over.
We take a long lunch break next to one of the lakes and entertain ourselves with stories and verbal games. It's funny how much fun you can have when you have great people around you. We don't need any electronic devices to keep us entertained.
We nap side by side with Blis under a tree. The sun is warm and we feel tired and broken. I feel like I could stay here for the rest of the day but the others push us on.
We cross one of the lakes and climb a small hill that looks like a pass and then start to descend down to the Purple Lake. Happy Feet and I are at the front and while going down, hear a thud and some commotion from behind us. We stop and look back and see Blis on his back after one of the steep snowbanks. Indigo and Juniper are there with him and we see them taking of their backpacks. Oh no!
We yell to see if everything is alright and if they need our help. They reply they're ok, and that Blis cut his hand. We stop and watch as they bandage his hand. Everything seems to be ok. Once Blis gets up and catches us, we hear that he fell while sliding down and a stick went through his skin. It's nothing bad but needed medical attention.
We slip and fall often on the snow. Everyday many of us take different kinds of tumbles on the snow, or when crossing it. I've fallen through between rocks, slipped, fallen, postholed, fallen through snow under a tree, and so on. And today while sliding down on one of the hills with my feet, my ankle gets stuck under a tree branch and it twists my knee. It's nothing bad but I feel it a little every time I start moving after a small stop.
It's been a long day and everyone seems to be beaten. We finally reach our camp spot for tonight. It's 6.5 miles from the junction to Mammoth and from there we need to hike 3.5 miles more. Normally we would have taken a bus from Reds Meadow, but the road from there to Mammoth is closed due to snow. We're hoping the larger road from where we're heading would be open.
We have no bonfire tonight. We eat our dinner and everyone quickly goes back to their tents. This has been our longest stint out, and at the same time the hardest. I can't wait to get to Mammoth and rest for few days. And to get the milkshakes, and burgers, and proper real food.