Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 9 Over Silver Pass

Woke up this morning and it is still raining.  Getting my gear packed up in the rain is no fun.  And I have learnt that it is just another form of task to deal with, and it's just water.  There are a few little holes in the clouds where a bit of brightness comes through, so I am hopeful.  I decide to ignore the fact that it is raining until I have had breakfast.  Open the bear canister, get the water boiling and cook my meal.  I have discovered that the fastest way to get packed is upon waking to immediately get dressed in the tent, roll up my sleeping bag and ground pad, put all my clothes back into their zip lock bags, put everything into the backpack where it belongs except for the bear canister.  That way I can pull out the backpack with its raincover on, lean it against a tree and finish packing the tent. By the time I am done with that, I am ready for breakfast.  I also treat 3 liters of water every night so I am ready for all my cooking and drinking needs in the morning without having to wait for the treatment to take effect (it takes 30 minutes for the water to be safe for drinking).

So, tea is ready, oatmeal is ready, tent is zipped up, backpack leaning against a tree, rain pouring now and I am fully dressed in all my raingear and I get a bout of diarrhea.  Unexpected, out of the blue….of course the first word out of my mouth is S….- yes it is in all ways.  Well, I certainly knew how to prioritize.  Turn off stove, cover canister, jump behidn a tree, get off all my clothes below my waste, hobble to the tent, get toilet paper, clean up, put rain pants back on, go to stream, wash clothes, redo my lambswool and bandaids around my feet to prevent blisters….take 2 with breakfast.  No bears have shown up, of course a hiker came by but didn't see me among the trees - and if, I couldn't have cared less.  Now I drink the tea ever so slowly, monitoring myself for signs of further GI and eat just a little more.  Then down to the stream for another thorough cleaning and water treatment and I decide to just get going and see what happens.  This is by far my lowest low point.  This is not just Paris, this is right on top of the Eiffel Tower and a bit of Europe thrown in.  And on I hike.  

The trail goes uphill right away and I start to enjoy the rythm and the stunning valley.  Nobody else anywhere and I gain altitude rapidly, arriving at squaw lake where I pause, continuing up past many little lakes, Chief Lake and finally encountering one other hiker on his way down and a horse train with riders and their provisions.  Up and up and finally on Silver Pass.  This Pass feels like a real mountain pass.  All grey granite with valleys stretching on to either side and lakes everywhere.  I have been looking forward to this pass  and the lakes and their beauty.  A couple is catching up with me, out of breath and delighted at the same time.  They are doing the trail in 10 days, having left their young sons behind and not wanting to take more time.  I am able to get toilet paper and more wet wipes from them since they will resupply sooner than I do.  I have run out with all my stomach irritations. We chat, I pass on some extra food that I won't need and off they run, in flowery dress, with floppy hat, with long strides, floating over the trails.  And I stay a bit longer, all bundled up, content and with a finally settled stomach.

Many hikers stay near Silver lake and it's beauty is striking.  I imagine spending the night here and it feels wonderful and at the same time incredibly exposed to wind, rain, lightening and hail.  I would have some time but with the still bad weather I pause for a little bit and then continue on.  The valley is lovely with streams and trees starting to reappear.  A few bits of sunshine make it through the clouds here and then and more hikers are starting to come up towards me.  They are here for 4-5 days and started from Edison lake.  As I continue the weather gets better. I would have never thought that this day that started so tough would turn into a day with sun and beauty and strength.

The valley continues and becomes a gorge, steeply leading me along the river and waterfalls and cascades towards Lake Edison.  I stop and take pictures a lot, rest on granite slaps and take in this landscape with valleys emerging from everywhere.  I cross many rivers and decide to make it a long day and get to a campsite near the lake.   I am almost there with less than a mile to go when I ford my last river for the day.  And a stone that I have my weight on turns over.  Despite my poles steadying me, in I go.  It's not deep but I still get a eake up call because there could be sharp stones and branches that would cut me.  Well, I am lucky and nothing happened.  I remember all the times in Nepal when I slipped and fell - so much more dangerous with icy, glacierfed rivers running fast.  I get to the other side and there is really nothing to be done.  Whatever is wet is wet and I will wait until I get to my campsite and dry things out.  Hopefully the zip locks have done their job well and my down sleeping bag is well protected in multiple layers of garbage bags.  And as I walk on, I chuckle and notice that for the first time today my feet are cool and comfortable - so there is a benefit to an unexpected bath!  Once the shock is over I can actually enjoy my cool clothes as well since I am completely soaked.  

I get to a lovely campsite across the river at Quail Meadow, set up my tent and enjoy my evening, dry out my clothes and cook.  Nothing got wet except what was on my body - my system works!  That night the moon is so bright and almost full, I spend a lot of time outside, walking around and enjoying the night.  There are many other hikers here who take the ferry to resupply and have a shower and beer and company at Vermillion Resort and then come back to resume their hike.  I will not be going but continue on the trail tomorrow - and hope I can get more TP from others. What a day and how it has changed over time.

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