Day 6-7: Deer Creek to Vermillion Valley Resort
While eating breakfast at Red’s Meadow Resort, I had grabbed a copy of Elizabeth Wenk’s “John Muir Trail” to read up on Devil’s Postpile as well as the next section of the trail. The guidebook declared that the first 5.5 miles of our 6th day on trail are considered “[…] the most monotonous on the JMT.”
Apparently the weather also knew about the monotony of this section and decided to give us cloud cover on our ridge, which at least kept things cool for our nearly 6-mile trek to the next lakes. So, we both put in our earbuds and turned on our iPod Shuffles, which we had brought for just such a section of trail.
The clouds eventually broke, just as we were starting to get good views of the peaks on the Silver Divide ridge across the Cascade Valley.
After 5.5 miles we dropped down to our first water source for the day at the Duck Lake junction. Dan was very happy to share his story of catching a large Silver Salmon last time he went to Duck Lake.
We took a well-earned lunch break at Purple Lake, which was tucked into a lovely cirque below some awesome looking peaks. While enjoying our lunch, we watched a fellow hiker try his luck at fishing.
After Purple Lake we climbed higher still, crossing back into 10,000 feet of elevation. We passed through a subalpine forest on the saddle and dropped down to beautiful Virginia Lake. It was so lovely that we decided to take a good long break to enjoy.
Dan got out his fishing rod and chatted a bit with the other fishing hiker we had seen previously at Purple Lake. While neither of them caught anything, they certainly enjoyed having such a pristine setting to fish in.
Our last couple miles of the day dropped us down to a narrow valley. We found our campsite for the night a bit beyond a lush meadow, beside rushing Fish Creek.
We changed up our routine a little the next morning. The previous evening had been rather mosquito-infested so we decided to get up and go without making any breakfast. The trail followed Fish Creek downstream a mile or so. We crossed the creek and then started switchbacking our way up the South side of the valley. We crossed into the subalpine forest, enjoying the morning light on the meadows.
Within a couple hours we were up at Squaw Lake where we stopped to properly enjoy breakfast. Once again Dan tried his hand at fishing, having noted that our new fishing friend was there also. This time he was lucky enough to catch a fish, which we enjoyed as part of our breakfast. Nothing tasted better than that fresh fish!
After our delicious breakfast we were ready to tackle Silver Pass. We climbed up and away from Squaw Lake and got back into another high lakes basin. From there it was a steeper climb through the scree to the pass at 10,900′. The views from Silver Pass were awesome. We could see all the way back North to the Minarets, where Garnet Lake was.
The trail briefly switchbacked down from the pass and then continued a bit flatter through the hanging valley that holds Silver Lake.
We took a bit of a late lunch break where we crossed the river below Silver Lake. It was a beautiful spot of shallow rock pools that allowed us to rest in the shade and soak our feet.
After our lunch break it was a long afternoon of dropping over 3,000 feet. The best part of dropping such significant elevation is hiking through different ecological zones, from the high alpine basins through to flowery, creekside meadows. The worse parts of dropping such elevation is the increased heat and the strain on our feet and ankles.
We were pretty tired by the time we reached Lake Edison (7,600′) after 12 miles of hiking. However, our quicker pace had paid off. We were able to catch the “ferry” (a 5-person aluminium fishing boat) across the lake to Vermillion Valley Resort, where we would be staying a couple of nights to get our resupply package and to rest up a bit. More on that in the next post!