Started: 07:00 @ MM 882.8 Silver Pass Creek (Elevation 9,792ft)
Finished: 17:25 @ MM 901.1 Deer Creek Crossing (Elevation 9,108ft)
Elevation Gain/Loss: +3,634/-4,311ft
Food: Oatmeal, Belvita, Trail Mix, Granola Bar & PB, Snickers Bar, Beef Stroganoff, Jelly Beans
Health & Hygiene: 0 Blisters, Days since last shower 2, Days since laundry 2
After the horror of Muir Pass, everything seemed easy. Technically Silver Pass wasn’t a difficult ascent, however the sun cups were huge which made walking on the hard frozen snow a little tricky. I tried to figure out the science behind the formation of these bizarre snow craters … I failed but did conclude that it was like hiking across an egg carton!
I finally resorted to my SpiderMan shoes after a couple of less than graceful moments. In less than 90 minutes we were at the top and then we weren’t … Silver Pass has a cruel blind summit! When reached the actual climb, much to my absolute delight, we were greeted by a very friendly Mini-Bear and at long last I got my much coverted photo. I scoffed down a Snickers to celebrate the climb and a packet of Jelly Beans (one by one and identifying each flavor) to toast the Mini-Bear. Then it was back to the super snowy north face … I am so over this fuckin’ snow!!
Finally we descended below the snow line, hiked about a mile and then started climbing again. It was to be a very up and down kind of day. Lots of short, sharp ascents which, when combined, made it feel like you were climbing for most of the day. At elevations of around 10,000 it was a grueling grind.
After Silver Pass I walked alone for much of the day. I had missed my alone time. The High Sierras provide a unique challenge that requires hikers to work as a team. I am blessed to have been part of a great team. I probably couldn’t have done it without them. Not just the crazy creek crossings and the icy traverses … the things that really get you through are the shared experiences, the sense of “family”, the commitment to each other and of course the huge fun!
The worst (or best, depending upon your viewpoint) of the Sierras was now behind me. Tomorrow I will reach Mammoth Lakes and to my surprise and delight any thoughts I had about skipping the rest of the Sierra are also well and truly behind me. As the trail climbs westward along a high ridge I am able to look back to the south and over the awesome sight of white capped summits that I have crossed.
I pass the 900 mile mark. Unlike in the desert, there is no special marker to celebrate my achievement. Now my conquests are measured in feet not miles. Although I may have passed the toughest physical tests, the real challenges still lie ahead. I haven’t even reached the halfway stage, let alone finish California. From here the trail becomes a very psychological challenge, a real test of mental stamina and endurance … I can’t help but ponder my capacity to endure.