From Independence to Vermillion Valley Resort/Lake Edison (Mile 877)

We’re not dead! Apologies for the length of time since the last update, but trekking through the Sierras took us through some remote areas and the resupply locations at which we stopped were lacking in reliable cell and internet signals so staying connected was difficult. We’ll be updating all three sections that we’ve covered since Independence, so if you’re not subscribed to receive posts by email, be sure to check out all three new posts.

STEPHANIE 759

Leaving Independence (or rather Bishop, as we’d taken a bus there, 30 miles away from Independence, in order to take advantage of the bigger town and additional services available there) was difficult not only because we’d literally lain like sloths in a hotel room for a day and a half,  but because the hitchhike back to the trailhead at Onion Valley Road (13 miles from Independence, about 45 miles from where we were staying) was a hard one – there’s nothing out on that road aside from the trailhead and a campground so it can be difficult to find someone headed out that way unless you get lucky enough to hook up with a dayhiker. We were standing thumbs out on Highway 395 at the worst possible time (late Sunday afternoon) when the likelihood of anyone going that far out was small. We caught a ride in the back of a covered pick-up truck to Big Pine, about 15 miles closer to our goal, and started the humbling process of trying to entice someone into picking us up all over again.  We were beginning to think we might have to be content with simply making it back to Independence that night and try for a ride out to the trailhead again first thing in the morning when along came our hero. He passed us originally, but something convinced him to take pity on us and turn around.  Though it was more than 30 miles out of his way, he happily took us all the way out the Onion Valley trailhead and wouldn’t accept a dime for his time. The kindness of strangers out here … it never ceases to blow my mind.

STEPHANIE 760

Matlock Lake

Back at the trailhead to lead us up Kearsarge Pass, we still had 7.5 miles to hike before we were back on the PCT. There were nasty storm clouds rolling in on top of the pass that we weren’t at all sure we wanted to hike up into, so we hiked in just 2.5 miles before setting up for the night at Matlock Lake. The next morning we were up early and set to tackle the weather and two mountain passes back to back. Sure enough, right as we were nearing the top of Kearsarge Pass, we realized snow had started to fall and, alternating with bouts of rain and hail, continued to do so through our descent and then our next climb up Glen Pass. It wasn’t cold enough to stick, but being snowed on at the end of June was an odd experience.

Atop Kearsarge Pass

Atop Kearsarge Pass

Cool suspension bridge before Pinchot Pass. I spy an Eddie!

Cool suspension bridge before Pinchot Pass. I spy an Eddie!

Mile marker 800! He can barely contain his excitement.

Mile marker 800! He can barely contain his excitement.

Pinchot Pass

Pinchot Pass

Simply stunning

Simply stunning

Fortunately, that was our only day of wildly tempermental weather that mountain ranges are so famous for – at least for the time being. The next few days had us scrambling over mountain pass after mountain pass … Pinchot, Mather, and Muir, all over 11,000 elevation, all murder on the legs and lungs but so incredibly worth it when we stood at the top, battered by wind, and took in the sights for miles and miles. This stretch of wilderness (where the PCT intersects with the John Muir Trail) is often referred to as one of the most beautiful trails in the world, and it is easy to see why. The beauty we’re seeing on a daily basis out here is staggering. Kind of a shame we’re dirtying it up with our hiker aroma! ;)

Muir Pass

Muir Pass

Dorky smiles after a challenging but awesome climb up Muir Pass

Dorky smiles after a challenging but awesome climb up Muir Pass

The ceiling of the stone hut atop Muir Pass - E's such a photog.

The ceiling of the stone hut atop Muir Pass – E’s such a photog.

Gorgeous Sapphire Lake

Gorgeous Sapphire Lake

 

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