The World Keeps Turning…
We’re in our own little bubble here on the JMT. It seems strange having been ‘incommunicado’ for 10 days now. Other than sending some postcards from Tuolumne Meadows to let our parents know that we’re doing OK, we haven’t been in contact with anyone. Neither have we got a clue about what’s going on in the rest of the world.
I even missed wishing my nephew a ‘Happy 8th Birthday’ – I just hope he doesn’t hold it against me when I get home!
Happy that we have reached the top of Silver Pass!
Day 10 – Lake Virginia to Silver Lake (8.1 miles) – Sunday 7th September 2014 – ‘Hitting The Highs’
It was a slow start today as we packed up our gear and vacated our camp spot near Lake Virginia. We weren’t in a rush to start making our way up Silver Pass, but it was the next ‘biggie’ on the trail and had to be done!
We weren’t in any rush to leave our camp spot near to Lake Virginia.
It was to be the last day we’d see our trail buddies as everyone we meet now is going at a faster pace and completing the JMT in less time, so inevitably they overtake us. But that also means that every few days or so we see new people too, just to liven things up a little. Just today, Wayne was in his element having met Colin, another photography boffin with a very expensive medium format camera. Cue half an hour of ‘technical talk’ from the boys whilst hiking the trail! (With me trailing behind!)
Lake Virginia looks very inviting for an early morning swim.
Setting off for our hike over Silver Pass.
Once we started today’s hike, we had an unexpected treat by way of Tully Hole. Heading down what seemed like a never ending set of switchbacks, we were rewarded with beautiful views of the valley, colourful meadows and trickling waterfalls. On reaching the bottom, we both agreed that this would have made a great camping spot.
Looking down the valley to Tully Hole.
Great weather, great views.
Starting down the switchbacks that lead to Tully Hole on the valley bottom.
Taking a breather and remembering to look up.
Tully Hole would have been a great place to camp.
The best part of the day, without a doubt, was heading up and over Silver Pass. It wasn’t easy as we had to reach 10,754 feet, but like Donahue Pass, the switchbacks were gradual and we coped well enough. The worst part about it was the chilling winds blowing up the valley so we were really cold at times. We made a mental note that we’ll soon have to start hiking in long sleeves during the day if this is a sign that autumn is on its way.
After Tully Hole, we begin our second ascent of the day.
Fantastic mountain views keep us in good spirits.
We pass Squaw Lake on our way to the top of the pass.
No time for a dip. The picture doesn’t relay how cold and chilling the winds were!
Silver Pass presented us with fantastic mountain views and panoramic vistas. After a few monotonous miles yesterday, we were definitely back to amazing scenery!
Heading in the right direction.
The sheer scale of everything is hard to take in.
Another mountain lake.
Hooray for clouds! After 6 days or so of pure blue skies, Wayne was getting a little upset from a photography point of view about the lack of opportunities he was getting for time lapse pieces. But today he was in luck! With dramatic skies on the way up to Silver Pass, his camera was straight out and clicking away every 2 seconds.
A cloud filled sky looms above, while looking down from the top of Silver Pass.
But the most dramatic part of the day happened next. When we had almost reached the top of the pass, we looked back down the valley to unexpectedly see a huge mushroom of smoke filling the sky. Worryingly, it just looked as though a volcano had erupted. In fact, having then spoken to two other hikers coming in the opposite direction, they informed us that the sky was filled with smoke from a huge forest fire. Scary stuff! From our viewpoint, the smoke was coming from behind Banner Peak, so we assessed that the fire must be somewhere in Yosemite. Thank goodness we were already way past this point on the JMT. We wondered whether the forest fire had made the news, and if Yosemite would have to be closed for a time? The way it had spread so quickly, it certainly looked catastrophic from our perspective.
Looking back in the direction of Yosemite where smoke fills the sky.
We hiked on, eager to hear any news from other hikers on the trail, but as it was getting late in the day, we didn’t pass anyone else. When we arrived at Silver Lake, it seemed like we were on our own and would be the only hikers to camp there that night. (Until a couple of other hikers appeared over the pass and pitched at the other end of the lake to us, just before dark).
At last we reach Silver Lake and we have it all to ourselves for a while.
After getting so cold yesterday, there was no jumping in the lake today. But it was ‘hair washing’ day and I was more than a little excited about using my first sachet of conditioner! (Having only brought 3 with me, I have to ration them and use one every eight days!) I also did a little bit of maintenance such as eyebrow plucking as it was the first time I’d looked in a mirror for a few days! (My friends will surely think the real me has been abducted by aliens!)
Pitching the tent on a rocky outcrop by the lake.
Our last minor drama of the day was when we heard coyote howling at the top of the ridge opposite our camp whilst we were having dinner. I guess it must have smelt good! Well it was ‘spag bol’, one of our trail favourites!
One of our favourite hiker meals. The coyotes thought it smelt good too!
Tomorrow we are heading to Lake Edison where we’ll step off the JMT for a ‘Rest Day’ at Vermilion Valley Resort. It’s a bit of a ‘spit and sawdust’ type place in the middle of nowhere, where fisherman and hikers can go to get away from it all. Or in our case, take a break from the trail to rest and recuperate with some home cooked food and a few beers.
We keep hallucinating about that long awaited cheeseburger! We’ll be so disappointed if we don’t get one this time. Watch this space… VVR here we come!