I was pretty excited on this morning of the prospects to enjoy some down time and recuperation at VVR. Even after spending a bunch of time preparing the toes for the hike, I was still on the trail by 7:45am.
I did pretty well on the early incline out of Purple Lake and before Lake Virginia, focusing on taking smaller strides and keeping a slow, steady pace that didn’t take me out of breath. Lake Virginia was beautiful, a huge lake that was very windy. Still, it would have been a better camping option than Purple Lake.
Once you are past Lake Virginia, there is a big decline of 1400′ down to Tully Hole. During this stretch, you are treated with excellent views across Cascade Valley/Fish Creek and the Sierra Crest. Talking to a repeat Northbounder, he mentioned how the area was essentially closed last year due to smoke from fires. We got very fortunate this year without any fire/smoke impediment at all throughout the hike. The hike along Fish Creek was really neat, and a good time for a break. It was good timing, for after the Fish Creek trail, there was another 1700′ incline up to Silver Pass. Again, my pacing seemed to help me a lot, and I didn’t have too many problems getting up to Silver Pass. Once I got up to the lakes just below the pass, the views were beautiful and reminded me a lot of Wyoming.
After Silver Pass, the hike was 2,800′ decline over 6 miles! A pretty easy hike, with some good views along the North Fork Mono Creek. It wasn’t uneventful, however, as I was setting up to pump water for the last four miles of the hike along a rushing creek, I looked down and the creek-side tube of the pump was missing! It must have fallen off and taken down the rushing creek. I had a Lifestraw with me, so I filled my bottles up with water from the creek and used the Lifestraw a few times the rest of the way, with the thought of looking for a water filtration alternative at VVR.
Near the top of Silver Pass, I ran into Mark and Jason (they had camped on the other side of Purple Lake). I told them about my plans for VVR. It must have had an influence on them for I saw them just after the water filter fiasco and they mentioned they were going to spend the night at VVR, as well! We hiked the last few miles together and arrived at the dock on Lake Thomas Edison at 4pm in plenty of time for the 4:45pm taxi.
Along the way, we heard from another hiker that VVR might not run the water taxi if it is too windy. When we arrived, Mark called VVR to confirm it was coming since it did seem windy, and they confirmed it was running. The alternative is a 5 mile hike, and I was not going to do that after the 15+ mile day.
After soaking the feet and playing with gear, the taxi finally arrived about 5:15pm. However, after we got loaded up and could taste the steak and beer, the boat operator Raven mentioned that he was having troubles with the motor. Not what I needed to hear at this point. Raven toyed with the motor and called a few people, but we were still sitting there at 6pm. A few other hikers showed up (including Hilda and Sebastian). Fortunately, Ray came out in another boat, took Hilda, Sebastian and I and kept on mentioning that he would definitely go back and get the other guys. I arrived at VVR around 6:30pm, and fortunately, Raven got the original boat running well enough to get them back 15 minutes later.
After enjoying a steak dinner and a couple beers, I got a shower, washed some clothes and settled into the Tent Cabin that Mark, Jason and I shared. Surprisingly, even though I was sleeping on a real bed (still with my sleeping bag), I had one of the worst night’s sleep of the trip! I was so hot from the shower, and the tent cabin still was retaining some heat, I didn’t wear enough clothes to sleep and kept the feet zipper open. At least it was still comfortable (and I had a full tummy!).