June 15th, Sunday
853ish to 873ish
We woke up that day to find that our rations were very small. With any luck we’d make it to our next resupply point, Vermillion Valley Resort, tomorrow. However, to get to VVR we had to take a ferry that was $12 per person, one way. And to pick up our package was $20 (possibly 30, if we didn’t address our box correctly). We were low on funds, so we decided that Zach should go alone, and I would camp out at the ferry crossing. He would pick up our package and hike out. That way we wouldn’t completely blow our budget for the resupply stop. But in the meantime, we had a full day’s hike ahead of us. We ate our oatmeal and packed up.
The pass we needed to cross that day was Selden Pass, elevation 10,910 feet. We passed some JMT hikers who gravely warned us of snow on the other side, but by this time, we’d learned not to take their warnings too seriously.
The walk was fairly level that day, following the stream, then gradually climbing into a wide basin covered in firs, wide lakes, and even green grass. Some people were pausing to swim in the lakes, but we were intent in getting in miles— we only had half of a meal, one breakfast, three Clif bars, and some miscellaneous food substances (dehydrated refried beans, dehydrated pasta sauce) to last us until tomorrow.
We departed the tree line to climb up to Selden Pass, but we saw only a spattering of snow, and when we reached the top, we actually laughed to see the wide open trail and about twenty feet, total, of snow-walking that awaited us.
We paused at the top of the pass and chatted with two middle-aged women who were thru-hiking together. They were loving the trail thus far, and we swapped stories about snowy passes and congratulated each other for getting this far. Somehow it came up that Zach and I only had half a meal left, and the women conferred quickly and offered us one of their meals— dehydrated hash browns. We thanked them profusely and took the opportunity to eat our half meal (one cup of pasta each), saving the hash browns for tomorrow morning.
We delved down the opposite side of Selden Pass, winding our way through the gorgeous landscape, fording a couple streams, until we reached a sign. The sign talked about a way to walk to Vermillion Valley Resort. But it was longer than the corresponding section of trail, and would probably set us back a day in our travel plans. At that point I was relentless about getting out of the Sierra. We were hoping to meet up with Zach’s grandparents at Echo Lake (near Lake Tahoe) on a specific day, and I wanted to get there as soon as possible. Being set back a day didn’t sound very good. Zach and I debated a long time, but in the end, we decided to go with our original plan: we’d hike to the ferry, and he’d take it and I’d stay behind.
Even as I type those words, I feel a knot in my stomach. That decision was, hands down, my biggest regret on the whole trail.
We hiked with fury, watching the sun plummet down behind the mountains as we hiked into a thick pine forest. It was pretty dark out by the time Zach and I found something resembling a camping spot on a slope and set up our tent. We split one of the Clif bars for supper, curled up, and tried to go to sleep. But the slope was just steep enough to make it uncomfortable (I kept sliding onto him), and it was a cold night, so we slept lousy. It wasn’t a very good set-up for the next day.