“A mountain pass a day keeps something something at bay”. I wanted to make a proverb like that but haven’t filled out the somethings yet. Anyways, a pass a day is exactly what has been going on since Mount Whitney, but today is the last of the bigger ones, and wasn’t even as big as high as the other ones. It was also much easier than the other ones as there were only a handful unproblematic snow patches left. The pass afforded some nice views and the descent was unproblematic and again brought us by a nice series of lake, but distinct from the previous ones.
Next up was Bear Creek, which was slightly intimidating, not because of the risk of encountering the namesake creatures but because it sometimes is difficult to ford. Thare was described a mile long walk around and that the PCT would have hip high and swift water. I assumed that the situation had gotten better and only try the long walk around if that wasn’t the case. I was right. It was slightly swift but only reached me to below my knee, so it wasn’t bad at all.
Some miles and dozens of minor creek and creeklet crossing late brought the trail to a long ascent up another mountain side only to go all the way down again without offering any real views. There probably was a reason for that but it eluded me and this fell under the hiker term “p.u.a.d.” Pointless ups and downs. Anyways, after that I came to a section with a very lush undergrowth and after some time spotted an old fiend, the poison oak. I hadn’t been attentive to them as it was so long since last, so fingers crossed that I haven’t accidentally bumped into some.
Later, I reached a junction leading to the Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR), which sailed across Edison lake twice a day to shuffle hikers. I had actually a lot of food left, but not enough to bring me to Tuolumne. I therefore had to resupply at either VVR or Mammoth, but I wanted to see VVR, as I felt that it was part of the trail, and also because it sounded quirky. The fact that the usual road to Mammoth was blocked and you had to take a detour sealed the deal. A couple of hours of waiting later the “ferry” arrived, but the captain had bad news: VVRs water pump had broken just today so the restaurant would be closed and there would be no showers or laundry and the restaurant would be closed. Hmmmmm. I decided to still go as the store still was open.
Calling VVR a resort is somewhat of an overstatement, I think, as it mostly is just one building with store and restaurant as well as some toilet buildings and cabins. I have previously spoken about the hiker boxes, which are boxes where hikers can leave food and gear for other hikers. Well, the VVR takes things they think they can sell in the store from there or from unclaimed boxes that hikers have sent there. The store was pretty poorly stocked consisting largely of items that had been sitting on the shelves for ages since nobody had brought them as well as said hiker food they had claimed as theirs. For instance, there was a box that said pop tarts and it had two individually packaged ones completely crumbled up. They were also notorious for selling expired items. For instance a hiker saw a 23 year old freeze dried meal in the hiker box and later it appeared in the store. I don’t know why a hiker would bring a twenty three year old meal, but I do know that it shouldn’t have made it to the store. So definitely one of the worst ressupplies yet. Checked my own items of which some where slightly expired and one cliff barbI subsequently got exchanged. The store was quickly running out of items that could act as dinner given the fact that the restaurant was closed. Well, at least there was one complementary beer or other beverage when you arrived. Would not go here again. I sat around a camp fire with some other hikers for a while before going to bed.