Lake Virginia to Lake Italy Trail Intersection
|Big terrain to come teases us in the distance|
We woke around 4:30, a little later than ideal, and we continued to wake by 4:30am for
the rest of the trip. We were always moving by 5:30am. Sunrise was around 6:30am. That first hour in the dark was always magical. There’s something of a prowess I feel knowing how many miles I cover by sun up, and watching the land come to life, passing camps waking up, making breakfast, breaking down tents. The morning of day four it was sprinkling with heavy humid air. The sky was inky blue-black, and waaay, way in the distance a mountain summit shone like it was on fire, as it caught the first of the day’s sun, as it peeked over the horizon, scraping across the murky sky. Perfect unparalleled palette. Unrepeatable. The rugged peaks in the distance teased us with what was to come.
Silently we slinked up Silver Pass. Along the trail we found an orphaned rake, probably left from a maintenance crew or backcountry ranger. It’s presence reminded us of the world we had left. We passed an older couple who also got an early start. It was gloomy and cold and sprinkling. We ate up the miles. We passed an eccentric older man who might have been albino. He was almost halfway done and twenty days into his JMT hike - a whopping five miles a day. We all move at our own pace. As we passed him he said our gait was elegant, like a dancer. We passed a trail maintenance crew working the crazy switchbacks and moving boulders. They said they were out for a two week stint. We thanked them for their work as I silently scolded myself for not doing more trail maintenance.
We took lunch at the bottom of the switchbacks in a forested area and put our feet up onto a fallen tree. We felt bad; our feet hurt early that day, and Jason’s tummy hurt. The descent to the bottom of Lake Edison felt like it took forever. The lake was so low that summer that the ferry couldn't run and they were shuttling hikers to the cache spot.
The ascent up Bear Ridge Was super steep and we trudged on putting ourselves into a plodding trance. We passed a father and son who noticed and said, 'Wow. You’re in the rhythm.' We would later say the same to them. Jason got a weak cell signal and sent out an email to Muir Ranch announcing our arrival the next morning. We could only cross our fingers and hope my cache was there.
On the descent from Bear Ridge the sun came out. That was the first day that seemed like it would never end. We planned on camping at the junction with Bear Trail and Italy Pass and kept guessing that we may have passed it. Jason was whooped and was having problems with his quad, though he didn't tell me at the time. When we finally got there it was difficult to find a good campsite. As we scoped for a site I heard Jason scream from behind me a rageful 'FUCK!' I turned around to see Jason holding up half of his trek pole - in one foul step it had broken in half.
His right quad was in pain. We weren't sure if my food cache would be at Muir Trail Ranch when we arrived there in a mere 14 hours, and the only crappy campsite we could find was covered in giant black ants. In one quick hour someone turned up the volume. Things had never seemed so bad.