18.0 miles (Miles 864.7 – 882.7)
Heart Lake – Silver Pass Creek
Selden Pass was pretty easy. It helps that we did most of the climbing yesterday, so we only had .8 miles to the pass summit. Up and over we went, then we worked our way down to beautiful Marie Lakes. We started getting swarmed by mosquitoes, so the headnets went on. We have the cheapest headnets you can buy – in combination with a brimmed hat, it’s the best defense against the buggers flying into your eyes, nose and mouth while hiking, as well as keeping them from biting. They came and went all day, depending on where we were and how the breeze blew.
After we descended a bit more, our trail leveled out for a while and wound through shady pine forest. What a break from the rocks, steep ups and steep downs! We cruised along enjoying a light and quick pace for a change.
A lot of our trailmates took one of the three side-trails to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) today, and we kept on going. For Aloha to meet us there with resupply would have been a 13-hour round trip, so we just packed an extra two day’s worth of food to avoid that long trip. VVR is famous for their delicious, gourmet-ish, but expensive food. Hearing others talk about their excitement for omelets and burgers made me even more excited to get to Mammoth in two days to get our fill of yummy food. Soon enough!
We had a couple of river fords again today. Another potentially dangerous ford at Bear Creek turned out to be easy, just a bit cold. We took our gaiters and socks off, removed our insoles and trekked across right through the water in our bare shoes. It was only about mid-shin deep. Later we had another tricky ford, and I opted to just step my left food right down in the creek – sock, gaiter and all. These shoes are awesome. I can walk in them wet like that and it doesn’t really bother my feet. It’s nice to put on dry socks a little later, and the shoes dry out pretty quick.
We have a mystery animal sound we’re really curious about – I hope someone out there knows what critter this is. It makes a really low, bass-like sound. Kind of a “glug-glug-glug.” It’s usually in three short bursts, sometimes five, and rarely more than that at a time. It kind of sounds like when you blow across an empty pop bottle… but in short, deep bursts. We hear it a lot, so I figured it couldn’t be bears. We have grouse in Wisconsin that drum really low kind of like that, but it’s not nearly as loud as this. Some kind of bird? Deer? Anyone know? We are SO curious!
A few random, but minor issues I’ve met on this stretch:
The velcro that my gaiter attaches to fell off my left shoe the other day. I was bummed because those things really keep the little rocks out of my shoes! Well, today on one of our breaks, Tears handed me a little patch of velcro. She cut it out of her shorts pocket for me! How sweet! A little super glue, and I was back in business.
Another gear failure – my Aqua Mira (water treatment) part A leaked and is empty. Tears’ Aqua Mira did the same thing twice before, and we can’t quite figure out why it’s happening. Elevation and bottle pressure? Why don’t both of the bottles leak then? I don’t know… it’s another mystery. Tears still has some, so we’ve been sharing hers on this stretch. I may owe her some Triscuits tomorrow!
My Platypus water bladder is going to need replacing, too. It leaked inside my pack yesterday. It sounds and feels like it clicks shut when I reattach the hose to it, but a few times already, it has leaked and dripped out the bottom of my pack.
My skirt is officially too big on me now. I have to pull it up pretty far when I put my pack on, otherwise with the movement of my walking it slips down and almost falls off. I have to be careful though, because if I pull it up too far, the movement of my walking causes my backpack to “eat” the skirt, and I may end up unknowingly flashing my buns to someone behind me! I may have to do a little sewing… sigh….
I had an insatiable hunger today. I could’ve probably sat down and plowed through the rest of what I had left in my bear canister in one sitting. I resisted. It will make that first town meal that much better. Oh! Speaking of food – mashed potatoes wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and salami? Awesome! That was dinner tonight. Yum!
The problems we have out here are pretty awesome, aren’t they?
We’re camped about two miles from our last pass before town – Silver Pass. The climb to get up here this afternoon was pretty exhausting, but we’re glad to have most of it out of the way. One full day and one short day until I get to see Aloha! Yay!
Tonight I love the small thru-hiking problems we run into and have to troubleshoot. It’s so simple!
A few more shots from today: