JMT Day 10: Silver Pass Was Nice, Until it Wasn’t..

Wednesday 9/1 8:01 PM DAY 10 📍Mono Creek 11.47 miles 8:07 hrs

Journal entry: I’m not even sure how I did 11.47 miles today, but you know what- it sure in hell feels like it. Started the day late, at 10 AM. Awesome morning, up until Gaia decides to kick me out of my account, not having ANY access to MAPS! Ugh, it’s pretty frustrating not knowing the mountains I’m looking at, or what’s coming up. It was 1 of 2 apps that I was using and now I don’t have it. I am still able to record, thank goodness. Silver Pass was nice, until it wasn’t. LOL. Idk, started climbing at 12:21 PM and finally made it to the top around 3 something. Maybe 4. Slight accidental detour on Goodale trail- not wanting to take that route in the first place. Staying true to the JMT as much as possible. Only 2.7 miles from VVR. NOBO Eric, that I met at the top of Silver Pass mentioned national forest closures and that VVR might be closed. Didn’t think of that, so I messaged Heather. She says not to worry, only Reds is closing early. Sleeping in tomorrow. VVR in the early afternoon. Stay overnight at MTR maybe in about 2 days. Hiking and continuing the JMT until they tell me to get off. Just need to make sure Onion Valley resupply is still able to accommodate hikers. Anyways, I’m tired. Pretty sure there’s a hiker camped across the creek from me. Ugh. Time for sleep.

Story: Yesterday’s sunset was an entire mood. It was the best afternoon ever, and I slept great. I didn’t start trail today until 10 AM, and just when I thought I was having a perfect morning- my Gaia GPS app decides to kick me out of my account. Now I am not able to see my maps. It was 1 of 2 apps that I had been using, but thankfully the trail is very easy to navigate. I just liked being able to see the name of certain mountains I was looking at, or certain areas I was coming up on. So I was sad for a while knowing that I no longer had access to that information, but I was going to continue my hike nonetheless.

I couldn’t believe how big Lake Virginia is and all the little surrounding lakes, I was really surprised by them all! Either way, I’m realizing that it’s not a good idea to determine how many more miles to the next destination while way off-trail at camp. The downloaded map I had could not recognize my location, and the miles were thrown way off. Like this morning, when I woke up at camp, it was 10-miles to Vermilion Valley Resort, but when I got back on trail, it said 13.4 miles. Yikes.

There were 2 SOBO groups ahead of me, and when I passed them heading out of Lake Virginia, I tried to make sure I was way ahead of them at all times. No reason, I just didn’t feel comfortable being the only solo person amongst these groups of people. Views of Cascade Valley were amazing, and I was so happy when I got down to Fish Creek- what a beautiful area! There was so much water in the creek, and a pretty cool bridge to cross to get to the other side. Mile 77.7, what a lucky bridge. Right after crossing Fish Creek, I saw my first signs of fall. Baby yellow aspens! Makes sense, I guess today is September 1st.

Making my way to Silver Pass today, and it’s a bit of a way to even start the climb, but I’m taking my time and soaking in the views. After crossing the bridge near Fish Creek, water was hard to get down to, so I ended up filling my water at the smallest creek before the climb up Silver Pass. A couple passed me as I was filtering water, they seemed young and really clean, and their packs were really small. I don’t think they are thru-hikers, maybe just out for the weekend. It’s close to 12:30 PM and that could only mean one thing: I’m starting to climb Silver Pass.

It actually wasn’t that bad. It was only the 2nd or 3rd pass on the JMT, so I’m still learning how to read the map and the mountain. I assumed I had started the actual climb, but I was way off. You see, when I thought I was reaching the top I had actually just made it to Squaw Lake instead, which meant only one thing: socks and shoes were coming off! A nice 15-minute soak was perfect, and I only saw one other couple here. I probably hung out a little longer than I should have, but now realizing that I was in the middle of a big climb, I needed to continue and push a little further.

It wasn’t until I reached the top of something that I realized this was not the top of Silver Pass. I continued after passing an empty sign. I imagined the sign said ‘JMT this way’, so I followed the trail and was immediately mesmerized by this mountain and its textures. I followed it for a bit, taking photos of this mountain, and I don’t remember the reason why I turned around, I think I started going downhill when I knew I was supposed to be climbing…I backtracked little ways and tried to see what the heck just happened. Am I no longer on the JMT? How did I miss this junction? UGH. Now backtracking, but thankfully not very far. I don’t remember having a destination that day, but that seems a bit silly, doesn’t it?

When I reached Warrior Lake, I was in complete awe. It was still a little early to stop and camp, and I don’t believe there is camping allowed at the lake either way- so I continued. It took a while, but the climb actually wasn’t that bad. After saying “Silver Pass” all day, I told myself I wouldn’t say it aloud until I reached the top. ‘S Pass’ is what it became as I climbed my way up. Looking back now, I think it’s safe to say that Silver Pass was the longest pass on the trail. At least that’s my opinion, and that’s probably because I assumed I was climbing the pass some 5 miles before the actual climb.

There was one person at the top of Silver Pass, and the reason I didn’t stop to get any photos there. NOBO JMT Eric. We stopped and chatted briefly and he mentioned the forest closures, and VVR possibly closing down early for the season. Shit. I didn’t think of that. I wouldn’t make it there today anyways, but now I had a decision to make. Hiking to VVR means hiking an additional 4 miles off the JMT, just to resupply and hang out. A resupply experience that I wanted, and now especially with less people on the trail. I went back and forth with myself- do I skip VVR? What if they ask me to leave? Is it worth it?

I ended up logging 11.47 miles that day. The climb down from Silver Pass was a breeze, and then down to Mono Creek- well, that was just a major drop in elevation and still took forever making my way down. Either way, I was camping near a creek, and a little closer to VVR- if I decided to check it out.

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Vanessa is an outdoors enthusiast, hiker at heart, and the storyteller behind Forever She Wanders; a women's lifestyle + travel blog inspiring all to get outdoors, seek adventure and live an active lifestyle. As an outdoors enthusiast, Vanessa has found passion in being outdoors while backpacking, camping, hiking and creating memories of a lifetime.

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