04 Sep Day 136 – Hail Storm
At mile 878.7. Hiked 21 PCT miles plus 1.5 miles back to PCT from Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) plus 1.5 miles from PCT to Edison Boat Ferry for Vermillon Valley Ranch (VVR).
As I departed at 6:20 am, I took this photo of just a few of the later risers tenting at MTR.
One of several lakes leading up to Selden Pass.
Another lake. I met a large group from South Korea here. One of them had hiked the SO-CAL portion of the PCT last year.
Another view of the same lake.
The first lake north of Selden Pass was Marie Lake.
Another view of Marie Lake. Notice the tiny clouds and how they build across the photos.
Here is the rock I swam from in Marie Lake at 10 am.
My shoes and socks laid out as I swam in Marie Lake.
Another view from Marie Lake. The once almost imperceptible clouds had already grown significantly during the short period I was at Marie Lake.
The trail and Marie Lake.
Onward. Further down the trail.
Another view before I stopped for lunch.
Decision made to go to Vermillion Valley Resort
I ate a leisurely lunch alongside a stream. When I finished I checked my app for distances and saw that the turnoff toward VVR was 9.8 miles away, then another 1.5 miles on a side trail to the ferry. It was 12:45. The ferry leaves at 4:45 pm. Four hours. I could make it if I averaged my typical 3 mph. If not, no problem. I didn’t need a resupply and I would be that much closer to my next stop. I would only go for the hot meal and to see what VVR was like.
Drenched in a Hail Storm
As I started climbing Bear Ridge, the rain started soon turning to rain and hail. The turn in weather spurs me to hike faster and I destroy one switchback after another. Before I topped out, the temperature had plummeted and I was soaked. Hail was falling thickly. Soon there were little rivers of water running down the trail. I began a long steep descent along the freshly washed-out trail. I noticed that distant mountain slopes in every direction were coated white with hail. I was getting colder, so cold in fact, that I began praying for any flat spot where I could set up my tent, pull off my soaked clothes, and crawl into my dry sleeping bag. After some trouble digging under the Tyvek that I had wrapped around my waist, I managed to fish an energy Pro Meal bar out of my back pocket. I wolfed down the whole bar and the shot of calories soon made me feel slightly warmer. To warm up bare hands, I walked with hands in my pockets, poles under my arm. This meant having no poles to help guide me down the steep rocky washed out trail. First one knee became sore, then both. I switched to using poles in a single hand, keeping my other hand in a pocket.
Catching the Ferry in the Nick of Time
I finally reached the trail junction to Edison Ferry. I actually ran some of the better parts of this side trail. Almost hypothermic, there was no way I was going to miss this ferry with the hot showers and warm food that it promised. The Edison trail was in horrible shape. I reached the lake, but I saw no ferry. I climbed a rock outcropping and spied the ferry moored about a quarter-mile further down the shore. It was already loaded with hikers. With no trail, I ran through the lake bed, climbing over rock and splashing through the lake with my Tyvek skirt blowing in the wind. This must have been some top-notch entertainment for those resting comfortably in the boat. I was the last person to board and we were soon off to VVR.
Hot Food and Refuge at Vermillion Valley Resort
Upon arriving at VVR, my first business was to wolf down a rib plate at the restaurant. Nothing ever tasted so good. Still hungry, I raided the hiker box, finding a couple of energy bars and a box of chocolates. I ate the chocolates first. Soon afterward, I bought a quart of chocolate milk and drank it dry. Now back at my tent, I’m eating dried apples from MTR (Muir Trail Ranch). I’m in my sleeping bag now and I am still hungry. It feels as though I didn’t eat. I thought about ordering a 2nd plate of ribs, but they were out. Oh, they were so good! With mashed potatoes and wonderful gravy. There was cauliflower that you couldn’t taste because it was so draped under a thick curtain of cheese. I’m already thinking about a hot breakfast at the restaurant as early as possible tomorrow morning.