June 21, 2015
Tentsite at Bear Creek Ford (869.0) to Lake Virginia (891.6)
22.6 PCT miles today
935.7 miles total
Today’s Elevation Gain/Loss: + 5,150 ft, – 5,354 ft
We didn’t realize until just now that today’s elevation gain and loss was actually greater than any other day we’ve had in the Sierras. It makes us feel great though because now it is behind us and we really had a very enjoyable day.
I know that at some point the views will not be quite so stunning, the landscape will become drier, and the skies won’t be so clear and blue…but it hasn’t happened yet. Every day we see JMT hikers walking south and I can’t help but inform them of just how incredible the days ahead of them will be. I keep assuming they haven’t seen anything yet, but then we get over yet another pass and the view North is just as breathtaking as our first day in the Sierras. And then I realize that these JMT hikers might have an idea of what’s in store and have doubtless already stood awestruck in front of one vista or another.
Today we hiked over Silver Pass, which was quite comparable to yesterday’s Selden Pass, but with a rockier trail and, in our opinion, a better view from the top. We started out super early again (5:25am) and hiked until about 7:30, when we turned on our 4G on a whim and discovered that we actually had service for the first time in about 2 weeks of hiking (with just a couple of exceptions). We made the decision to stop and get some things checked off the list so we’d have less to do during our nero tomorrow in Mammoth, and before we knew it, over an hour had passed. During that time, at least 6 PCT hikers passed us, after we hadn’t seen any while hiking for days. We got back on trail refreshed, but feeling a little rushed, and made our way to the start of our climb.
The trail followed a river almost the entire way up, which always inspires and motivates Pickles and I. We got to the pass, took photos and enjoyed the view of teal lakes and snow-capped mountains, and then headed down into the valley below. This was becoming quite routine for us, the rhythmic climb and descent of the Sierras, only this afternoon we didn’t make camp in the valley. We wanted to get in a couple more miles in order to make tomorrow’s nero longer, so we tackled one last climb, a 3-mile long ascent up the side of a mountain and around what must have been over 20 switchbacks. As always, the reward on the other side was more than worth it. Tonight we are camped along the shores of Lake Virginia, probably the largest and most grandiose lake we’ve seen since entering the Sierras. As the trail wound around the lake on a cliff’s edge, I was actually reminded a bit of our beloved Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe, which made me feel even more sentimental over this lake’s beauty.
As far as we can tell, tomorrow really is supposed to be a nice, easy day. We only have 15 miles to do to get to Red’s Meadow and Mama Bear plans on hiking out in the morning to meet us somewhere on trail. We’ll spend tomorrow in Mammoth Lakes, where we’ll look through photos, probably eat some more Subway, and reflect on our incredible last week in the Sierras.