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Begins: Apr 1, 2008
Date: Sun, Jul 6th, 2008
Start: Heart Lake
Daily Distance: 15
Trip Distance: 2,411.4
Entry Visits: 477
Journal Visits: 69,241
Guestbook Views: 3,645
Guestbook Entrys: 9
Heart Lake to VVR
I overslept this morning and woke up with a start at 5:08 a.m. Since I was a bit behind my usual schedule, I had to move fast to avoid the incoming mosquitoes that become increasingly active with the light. We left Heart Lake at 6:01 a.m. and reached Selden Pass at 6:31 a.m. I love these high places early in the morning. In general, I never see people much before about 9 a.m. and this morning was no exception. Standing there at Selden Pass looking at the tops of the High Sierra around us and down on the cascading lakes below us, I felt quiet and happy. As I started down the north side of the pass the mosquito factor kicked in. I had been warned that the mosquitoes on this side of the pass were profuse and vicious so I wasn’t surprised to find them so. But even this aggravation didn’t diminish my wonder of the place. The many lakes were set in the hard white granite so familiar in the Sierra and surrounded by stunted pines that grew out of any crevice or crack. Cody and I wound down the canyon for a couple of hours and finally arrived at Bear Creek where a woman sat alone putting her shoes on. Her name was Judy; she looked older than me and she was apparently traveling alone. We chatted briefly while I removed Cody’s boots and took my shoes off in favor of the crocs. The water was cold and rushing at a good clip. It was only knee deep but without my poles I felt unsteady on my feet. Reaching the other side I turned back and Judy waived and said, “Goodbye,” as she headed south. From Bear Creek I wound down the canyon some more, following its wild and raging waters.
At Hilgard Creek, I picked my way across on some logs and remembered the wonderful day Kerry, our son Dennis and I had spent there when we made this trip south to north many years ago. We had followed the creek up canyon and lay in its cool, gentle waters (it was August and the creek was considerably tamer). I remember swimming with the fish and I think some of them ended up on our plates for dinner. It was a peaceful day and as I sat quietly reading my book a pine martin had walked right up to me. His movement caused me to move and scared both of us half to death, the magic of the moment gone in a flash. I walked on, smiling inwardly at the memory.
Soon after Hilgard Creek, I started up the final mountain before I would drop down into the Mono Creek basin and my destination: Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR). I had seen some spectacular flowers today: Lupine, wild Geraniums, Larkspur, Mariposa lilies and Pretty Face and lots of Western Swallowtail and Pale Swallowtail butterflies. As I neared the top of the final ridge before the descent to Mono Creek, I came upon a drumming of grouse and one of the males had its tail in a full fan like a turkey. I tried to take a photo of it but it wasn’t quite close enough to show up well on film. I was very pleased though—I had never seen a grouse in all its glory, in fact, I didn’t even know they had the ability to fan their tails. Cody also was quite excited and I was reminded again that he would enjoy a good meal at VVR. It was here that I saw lots of Aspen; some of the most mature I had seen. I love Aspen—especially the way the sunlight dances on their leaves when the wind blows.
Up and over Bear Ridge I went and the ground became dusty and brown under the endless trees, which stretched overhead. I don’t know why this was so memorable for me—the walking was rather monotonous; following the gentle curve of the mountain that seemed to go on forever and then abruptly I started down the steep switchbacks into the valley below. Here I started passing people coming up and they uniformly looked hot and exhausted—it was a long way down. About half way down I heard a dog bark. It was a Bassett Hound with two young men. This was the first dog Cody had seen in a week and he was quite pleased. We quickly overtook the group, and the Bassett sat down, seemingly in protest. I joked that she was miffed because I was carrying Mr. C.’s backpack but she was carrying her own.
Eventually, I arrived at the dock for the boat to VVR. It was only 2:15. Judy had warned me that VVR’s regular boat had broken down so they were ferrying people in little boats throughout the day. At the dock three people were waiting and they would have taken me, but Cody was one too many so I sat down and waited. Shortly, my friends with the Bassett Hound showed up; they explained that they had hiked cross-country up to Lake Italy over the weekend through snow. I found this to be very impressive with the dog whose name was Belle; it could not have been easy for her to negotiate the snow and leaping from rock to rock with those short legs but she had done so and she seemed to be in good spirits and doing well. Their names were Donivan and Rodney and both had been Boy Scouts, we talked about that for awhile before another young man by the name of Shay showed up. He was attempting to yo-yo the John Muir Trail in 22 days but so far he had been rather sick.
Eventually the boat came back for us and Shay, Cody and I piled in and headed out across the rather wind-whipped water. By the time I arrived at VVR I was soaked and shivering. I was shocked that we had to get into a van and drive maybe ten minutes to the resort; the last time I was here, the water came right up to a dock near the store. Apparently, the water in Thomas Edison Reservoir has been low for a number of years.
At the store the owner gave me a towel and some laundry soap. Brazenly, I asked him if they had scraps in the kitchen that he would be willing to give some to Cody. He was very nice and when I got back from my shower Cody looked very happy—he had left over ribs from the night before. It worried me a little bit that they had given him cooked bones but he appeared to have suffered no damage—on the contrary, he seemed to have made a lot of friends. When one of the men wanted to give him dog food, I made no objection even though I had plenty in my resupply box. With the energy he was expending, an extra meal was not going to hurt his waistline!
I sat down to eat a burrito, drink a beer and a nice piece of cherry pie. I was enjoying this when a young man leaned over the railing and said, “Hi Jo!” It was Joe from Muir Pass, he told me he couldn’t believe that I got there before him and his brother. I couldn’t either. I’m not fast, but I’m steady! After dinner, I called Kerry on the satellite phone, at $ 2 a minute we talked fast for six minutes and arranged to meet at Housekeeping in Yosemite on Friday.
That night I shared a tent cabin with Shay and Cody. The mosquitoes didn’t bother us here—I wondered if they did something to keep them away. I organized my food supply and realized I had quite a lot of food, trail mix and dried fruit that I wasn’t going to eat so I offered it to Shay and he accepted it gratefully. I’m not sure what he had but I don’t think it included healthy stuff. He seemed particularly pleased with the chocolate I gave him. Earlier when he had told me about his GI problems, which he thought perhaps he had from not treating the water, I had asked him if he was washing his hands regularly to which he replied in the negative. I suggested that his problems may have stemmed from that rather than the water since there was no evidence of much giardia in the Sierra Nevada. It was as though a light bulb went on—it definitely gave him something to think about.
After sorting myself out and fixing Cody’s paws with cream and giving him a dose of aspirin, I quickly fell asleep. I missed the stars that night.
Confessions Of A Serial Hiker
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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