Day 174 (Oct. 11): Mile 891.4 – 872.8

Fall Colors in the High Sierra

Beginning Elevation = 10,350
Ending Elevation = 9,000
Elevation Range = 7,850 – 10,900
Weather: Sunny, few whispy clouds, high 60°F

I made it through another cold night, although oddly it didn’t seem as cold as 2 nights ago when down below 8,000 feet elevation. Either it was me being more prepared with more layers this time around, or the theory I have of the cold air sinking into the valleys is true. I don’t know. I can’t figure out mountain weather any better than Michigan weather. And…fear no longer about my cough. It seems it was just an odd, temporary thing.

Anyway, I slept good and decided I’d make breakfast in bed. I took my time getting going, but it also just seemed to take a while to pack everything up. With having to remove all the clothes I wear at night nowadays, the task of dressing myself for the day is a task in and of itself. I did take some time for a little jaunt to the lake’s shore and took some photos and a video…

During my packing up this morning, I discovered that at some point yesterday I’d made the rookie move of allowing my ice axe to puncture my pack! Luckily it wasn’t bad. Even with some homemade guards on the points, it seems it went through both the bottom and top of my packs “brain.” Still, quite operational though!

I was happy to find that after just an initial small climb, I had some downhill. It was gorgeous too. Fall in the Sierra!

The trail is always tricking me and usually doesn’t go where I expect. I didn’t think I’d be descending all the way down to that river in the picture above, but sure enough, that’s what happened. I didn’t go through the meadow part though, rather I joined alongside downstream and then followed it a ways in the shadowy forest before crossing on a nice bridge.

The bridge marked the end of my downhill and beginning of my climb up to Silver Pass, wich was about 3.5 miles and 1,700 feet elevation gain from there. Not actually that intimidating of an ascent and it proved to be steady, but not super steep. And the whole way was wonderfully beautiful with streams and lakes and eventually giant mountains.

Walked by Squaw Lake…

And a bit further on, was looking down at it…

And then there was Chief Lake, which I had a good long sit by…

And lastly (prior to Silver Pass), was Warrior Lake…

I reached the high point of Silver Pass, which is around 10,800 feet. It was open and had amazing 360 degree views looking down on the lakes I’d passed by as well as others. I tooled around up there for a while before continuing onward. Here’s my “summit” video…

And “summit” pose…

“Serena Williams – Ace in Your Face, Silver Pass, 11:30am

And the view as I finally left to start heading down…

It was a long descent, around 6.5 miles, which brought me to Mono Creek and also the turnoff to Vermillion Valley Ranch (VVR). VVR is typically a common stop for hikers to resupply or at least get a hot meal, but being late in the season, they’ve closed up shop. Thus, I treked right on by.

Backing up though, here’s some photos of my wonderful and colorful walk down from Silver Pass to Mono Creek. This first one is Silver Pass Lake…

Next up, was a climb from around 8,000 back to 10,000 feet. It started out pretty gentle and I found myself enveloped in another Aspen grove. Fall has always been my favorite season and I was truly loving their bright yellow color leaves. Indeed, since I was a young lad I have had the ambition to be a world class prize pumpkin grower. I did not see many pumpkins out here, but the colors of the leaves certainly resonated familiar feelings of Fall in Michigan

Once above the Aspen’s, the trail did some steep switchbacks for a while. The last bit towards the top was nice and gentle though and then I strolled along through a forest for a while…

About the time I started going down again, I got to experience more colors. These were my most favorite of the day too. It wasn’t just yellow this time, but a vibrant orange too. And, the backdrop of the mountains behind just made for an absolutely incredible scene…

I think it was around 5:30pm when I took these photos and I wasn’t quite as far as I’d hoped to get for the day. Even so, I was watching the sun go down and could tell it had potential to be a great sunset. And so, I kept my eyes open for a campsite where I might have a good view. I got lucky. It wasn’t as far as I’d hoped, but I wasn’t really concerned. And for water, I had only to walk back up trail a bit to where a stream crossed. Then, I was set. It was a great site! Plus, it was 6:00pm, so I got to eat in the light and watch the sunset!

Today’s Music:

Johnnyswim – Moonlight

Coldplay – Viva La Vida

Yonder Mountain String Band – Love. Ain’t Love

3 thoughts on “Day 174 (Oct. 11): Mile 891.4 – 872.8

  1. Kevin Kroondyk

    LOVE the fall colors. Grand Rapids hasn’t quite reached peak color yet. This final stretch seems like a such a different experience without your trail companions. In fact, it seems like this stretch of the trial has very few people at all. Is that weird? Scary? I don’t think I would love spending so much time with just myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really was quite different going solo. And you’re right, very few people still out doing this stretch. A little weird, not so much scary, but certainly more solitude and a more reflective/contemplative feel to the trek.


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