JMT Day 9: Timeout at VVR

Ascending Silver Pass
Ascending Silver Pass

On another cloudy morning about 800 ft remain to climb to the top of Silver Pass.

The rest of the day should be downhill to Lake Edison. From there we will take the ferry to Vermillion Valley resort where we will spend the night. That is, if the ferry operates…

We are way ahead of schedule so we can easily afford making the detour for about half a day.

Ascending Silver Pass
Ascending Silver Pass
The final bit to the pass
The final bit to the pass

We reach the top of the pass in less than an hour. A hiker we meet on the way up tells us that due to the low water level of Lake Edison the ferry to VVR has been replaced by a small boat going back and forth. We’re wondering how long we will have to wait to get a seat on that boat.

On top of Silver Pass. Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter in the distance, we passed them three days ago.
On top of Silver Pass (10895 ft, 3321 m). In the distance Banner Peak and Mt. Ritter, we passed them three days ago.

The view is nice, despite the clouds we are able to look back to Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak. We first spotted them on day number five from Donohue Pass and had a swim at their base in Thousand Islands Lake the day after.

View to the south
View to the south from Silver Pass
JMTers on horseback
JMTers on horseback
...and due to the draught also below!
…and due to the draught also below!
Meadow below Silver Pass
Meadow below Silver Pass

The trail descends to Silver Pass Lake and follow Silver Pass Creek. This section of the hike shows how dry the winter has been. At a viewpoint the guidebook mentions an impressive waterfall and a difficult river crossing.

This year both are just a trickle…

Viewpoint
Viewpoint
The guidebook warns of this dangerous river crossing - of course we take extra care!
The guidebook warns of this dangerous river crossing – of course we take extra care!
In between passes
In between passes

We hike down Mono Creek until where the JMT turns left (south) to Bear Ridge, we continue east to Lake Edison. When we arrive at the ferry landing point, no water is to be seen.

We heard that the water level is low, but we have to walk at least another mile through the dry lake to reach the new „landing point“ which is marked with a star spangled banner. We’re lucky, only two people are waiting so we get a ride when the boat (holding five people) returns.

Edison Lake
Edison Lake

Someone mentions that there is cell phone service here, the first time since Red’s meadows. I have to try and get a connection immediately. Due to the time difference I manage to wake people up in good old Europe.

Hi! I’m calling from the bottom of the lake!

Oooops! I should have texted instead and called tomorrow morning when we’ll come back here…

Kevin and another hiker kickstarting the boat
Kevin and another hiker kickstarting the boat
This photo of the same scene was sent to me months later ;)
A photo of the same scene which was sent to me months later by one of the guys we met at the landing site and who finished the JMT on the same day I did 😉

The dam has been built in the 50ies to ensure water supply and energy production for southern California. The tree stumps are well conserved by the water and many of them are hidden just below the water level so the boat can only go very slowly for a while.

Careful manoeuvering - the water is full of tree stumps
Careful manoeuvering – the water is full of tree stumps
The final miles to VVR are done by boat...
The final miles to VVR are done by boat…

On the other side we change to a pickup truck which gets us to the resort.

...and on the back of a pickup truck
…and on the back of a pickup truck

Jim, the owner welcomes us – the first beer is free! – and we set up our tents on the campground and have a real shower. Six bucks buy us nine long minutes with hot water, soap and a fluffy towel. Wow, what a luxury, it’s the first shower since nine days on the trail. What a feeling!

Better not get used to it, next shower is to be expected in Lone Pine after finishing the trail…

The store at Vermillion Valley Resort
The store at Vermillion Valley Resort

When I go to the store to buy some things I overhear a conversation about a nearby forest fire. When I leave the store five minutes later there is a lot of smoke and ash is flying through the air. WTF?

The information board says that the fire 20 miles away and we should not worry…

Information board, the fire is still 20 miles away - whew!
Information board, the fire is still 20 miles away – whew!

When having dinner at the restaurant we see some familiar faces from the trail. We’re pretty surprise to meet 16-days-guy who we met on top of Nevada Fall. He actually should be days ahead of us, but he claims that so far he was just warming up and now starting real hiking. Funny guy!

Another strange thing happens at dinner: There is a steak on the menu, but I’m choosing – lo and behold – the High Sierra Salad! Finally some green stuff with vitamins in it. Usually I am a big meat eater but can’t help going for the veggie stuff…

OK, I admit: the salad has a spicy grilled chicken breast on top. But still…

Distance hiked on JMT: 8.1 mi / 13.0 km
Distance hiked off JMT: 2.5 mi / 4.0 km
Elevation gained: 800 feet / 250 meters
Time spent hiking (including breaks): 6:30 h

Maps of Day 9 (red = JMT, blue = other trails)

Squaw Lake - Silver Pass - Mono Creek - Edison Lake (part 1)
Squaw Lake – Silver Pass – Mono Creek – Edison Lake (part 1)
Squaw Lake - Silver Pass - Mono Creek - Edison Lake (part 2)
Squaw Lake – Silver Pass – Mono Creek – Edison Lake (part 2)
<<< Day 8: A Monotonous Day? <<< Day 9 >>> Day 10: Walking into Mordor… >>>


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