Mile: 878.8 to 888.5 plus 1.5 mile VVR lake shuttle trail
up/down: 3500/1950 feet
New trip birds: Bufflehead and Common Merganser from the boat.
After 13 days of perfect weather, the gods said No More! It was cloudy when we left VVR on the shuttle boat down the length of the 4 mile lake. That was of course after a monster breakfast at the cafe. The ride was pleasant as our driver told us how fast the lake was filling - four to six feet of shoreline per day! After years of drought the lake had reached 5% capacity at the end of last year. With runoff just getting going in the last few weeks it is already 50% full. That is very nice to see.
We started hiking with a 1.5 mile connector trail that took us back to the PCT. Then we started the serious climb of over 3000 feet in 6 miles to Silver Pass. We has to cross the North Fork Mono Creek twice. The first one was uneventful, except for getting wet feet in the overcast and mid-40's temperature. The second crossing was a bit of an adventure. Using our usual technique we started across feeling for the bottom in the frothing water. I was having a hard time getting good footing and Susan was working hard to stay behind me. Then her hiking pole tip wedged between two rocks on the bottom. And she couldn't get it loose. I was secure on the creek edge and had her firmly by the arm. She didn't want to let go of the pole for fear it would wash away. I couldn't go back out to clear it without getting her the rest of the way across. We were stuck, and it was very cold (water temperature just above freezing). Susan got frustrated and gave it a good yank - snap, off came the tip of the carbon fiber pole. Once safely on shore I rigged a temporary tip from a stick that seems to be working fine for now. I'll order a replacement piece as soon as possible.
Still one more crossing to go, Silver Pass Creek. When we got there all we could do is stand there with our mouths hanging open - we had to cross this (it turned out to be straight forward and uneventful).
We continued our climb while trying to warm up from the crossings. Then it started to rain and get much colder. And the trail became continuous snow. Then a mile plus of sun cups. Imagine hiking on a waffle iron with irregular spacing between the high and low points, that is the fun of sun cupped snow. Finally we were at the top and the weather really closed in. I'm sure it was even more beautiful than what we were able to see.
Down the other side we took the opportunity to glissade a few long slopes which picked up our spirits some. We reached mixed dirt and snow trail and pushed for lower elevation and a camp site. We had been slow all day and it was getting late. We made it down to a snow free site at 9200 and called it a day. Up went the tent quickly so Susan could get in and warm up.
We know there will be plenty of days like this, but this one caught us by surprise. Oh, we passed 1/3 of the way today!