Virginia Lake.

Day 07 of JMT Revisited (June 29, 2004)

Today, we did a lot of hiking. We are staying about a half a mile above the Edison Trail junction at Quail Meadows – right where the trail crosses the stream between two rivers. We got here at 8:20 pm – about 10 minutes before dark. The sun had already set. That means we are at mile 93.6. Today, we started at mile 78.4, which means we did 17 miles. We did Silver Pass too.

It was a really hard day for me. We got up at about 7:15 am and start hiking at 8:20 am. Nobody got a candy bar because we forgot to take into account an extra day to get to Edison. I got two granola bars for breakfast. Then we had to climb to get to Purple Lake, descend, climb again to get to Virginia Lake, and climb (less this time) to drop into the valley to start the climb to Silver Pass. Between Purple Lake and Virginia Lake, Virginia Lake is by far the most pretty, and would provide the best place to camp and fish on a future trip.

On the way up from Virginia Lake, I passed a guy who then passed me a few minutes later. I then talked with him all the way down into the valley. He turned out to be a civil engineer in the Air Force. He has three kids, one in college, one in HS, and a 3-year-old daughter! He is a Major, and has been in the AF for 24 years. Seems like a nice guy. We split up when I reached the boys. ((I was to see him much more during the trip…))

We had a great lunch in the valley. Then we started up toward Silver Pass. After lunch it was very hard going for me. And the weather turned bad. At about 1:30, Tim called me from Squaw Lake, which is about 600’ below the pass and about a mile away. I was at least 1.5 hours from there. I told them to go on. If they went over the pass, we would be out of contact until I got over. And a storm was coming. They all went on, except Tim, who waited for me. By the time I caught up with Tim, thunder could be heard often. Then, about 15 minutes later, Elliot called, very concerned. They hadn’t got to the top of the pass, and the storm was on them. I told him to use his own judgment on what to do. A huge lighting bolt struck somewhere nearby. He decided to turn around, and leave their packs under a tree, and run down from the ridge. Tim and I set up the one tent that we had, and we spent a miserable two hours waiting out the storm.

Before the storm was completely gone, we started again for the pass. We made it with no difficulty, but we were still afraid of the thunderclouds. Most of the boys had turned back with only 100 or so feet left to climb – must have been a hard decision. They backtracked at least a mile.

Because of the storm, I didn’t get to the pass until 6:00 pm. We then hiked over 6 miles to where we are now camping. Our goal was the Edison/JMT turnoff, which we didn’t make. As I said above, I think we are only a half a mile away. We have about 2 miles to hike in the morning to meet the ferry. We are going to get up early so we can hike that and be first in line.

We are all looking forward to a rest day tomorrow. Dinner was great again. Boy did we set up camp fast tonight. Dinner in the dark. Wes made a great campfire too.

As usual, I am too cold to write much more – night.