Day 63: Skeeters!

Sun. 6/23/13
18.0 miles (Miles 864.7 – 882.7)
Heart Lake – Silver Pass Creek


The clouds that threatened us all day.

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.


Marie Lakes


A cheap headnet - quite the classy look!

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.


Soft, level, meandering trails

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.


Tears crossing a river

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:


A PCT sign right in the sap


Cascading waterfall


Succulent little cuties


7 thoughts on “Day 63: Skeeters!

  1. The sound is a Sooty Grouse. They used to be called Blue Grouse but Blue Grouse got split into two species. The Rocky Mountain form is now the Dusky Grouse and you might see/hear some when you get all the way to Hart’s Pass on your very last days. If you have a chance to see one of the grouse making that sound look for yellow air sacs on the side of their necks – looks like a fried egg. It’s fun reading your blog. My kids are a few days behind you – were at VVR on Saturday. their blog is happy trails!

  2. It’s not the “whoomph whoomph whoomph” sound of the grouse that freaks me out, it’s when they decide to fly right past your head trying to escape! You might see more farther on; we have a lot in the Tahoe basin.

  3. Is it a “whoomph whoomph whoomph” sound? Could be a grouse…it really freaked me out the first time I heard it (I was hiking alone and had nooo idea what it was).

  4. Hello to the So Many Miles Crew,

    Looks like you’re having a good time cruising along on the PCT! I live in Tahoe and intersect with it on my day hikes on a regular basis. PCT hikers are starting to cruise through the Donner area now. That sound you ask? The one that sounds like wind blowing over a bottle top and resonating from somewhere in a tree? I too am trying to solve that mystery. I will let you know when I find the answer. Stay tuned.


    Raining in Tahoe today but looks like warm, sunny weather moves in tomorrow.

    Happy and safe trail tromping! I’ll check back in shortly and hopefully with an answer.

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