Tuesday, August 4, 2015

JMT Day 10: Squaw Lake to VVR

Every single person I camped with at Squaw Lake was headed for VVR - Vermillion Valley Resort - except for one. She was coming from there. Squaw Lake is about 10 mi from VVR if you take the ferry, about 14 mi if you follow the JMT and then walk to VVR (no ferry), and 12 mi if you leave the JMT by going over Goodale Pass instead of Silver Pass (no ferry). The ferry was running from 8am to 11am every day, and it would make custom trips if you called for it. Only AT&T had reception. Some folks I camped with woke up early to hike the 10 mi before 11am. Others just hiked at their leisure and planned to call. I think I was the only one who went over Goodale Pass and through Graveyard Meadows.

I woke up late and headed out even later. My general schedule was waking up around 8am and leaving around 9am. Others wake up and get going much earlier, but if you wait as long as I do, all of the condensation on your tent will dry before you pack it up and leave. Plus it's not as cold when you get out of your sleeping bag.

I started the short part of the trail I would travel before the turn-off for Goodale Pass. This part of the trail passes and looks down on a number of lakes, all with "racist names" as a drunk guy at VVR rightly pointed out the next day: Squaw Lake, Warrior Lake, Papoose Lake, Lake of the Lone Indian, etc.

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Looking down at a lake

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Turnoff for Goodale Pass
The turn-off for Goodale Pass

I knew I was going to hike up to nearly 12,000 feet. What I did not yet know was: where. Looking at the mountains around the turn-off, I wondered what, exactly, I would have to hike up. Unlike many passes, Goodale never really becomes visible until the very, very end. You just keep going up a little more, a little more, and then you see the next little bit you have to go up. But the reward is great, because Graveyard Meadows, which you hike through on the other side of the pass, is gorgeous.

Here's what I saw on the way up Goodale:

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Paintbrush
Holy pink paintbrush, Batman! Lemmon's Paintbrush. Castilleja lemmonii.

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Butterfly

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Rockfringe. Epilobium obcordatum. Evening primrose family.

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Dock

Goodale Pass

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Goodale Pass
And... at last. I think this is the top.

Butterfly

Then a quick descent down into Graveyard Meadows. All in all, the day was about 2 miles up and 10 miles down, down, down. And I felt good for about 8 of them. Turns out, not eating enough was a bad idea.

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Larkspur
Larkspur

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

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Gentian
Gentian

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Lupine
Lupine

Wildflowers

Mountain Prettyfaces
Mountain Prettyfaces

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Meadow

And... at last I reached VVR. I was half dead by the time I got there, and the free beer I got after arriving did wonders to revive me. If you're doing the JMT, then don't miss VVR. Between the excellent food, the camaraderie, the showers, the laundry, and the free beer, the place is a much needed morale booster at that point in the hike. It's also a great spot for the NOBO and SOBO hikers to compare notes and prepare one another for the next leg of the trip.

Day 10 miles hiked: 12
Day 10 elevation gain: 1700 ft
Total Distance Hiked to date: 75.3 mi
Total JMT distance hiked to date: 48.1 mi

All of my JMT photos can be seen here.

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