Miles: 7.06
Camping: Vermilion Valley Resort

It took a while after opening my eyes to realize that the sky was grey and dark heavy clouds sat on every horizon. Faint drops of water collected in the mesh of my tent walls, and a few dark spots were present on my sleeping bag. Rain? This isn’t something I’d even considered, and I immediately began to hustle as I got my things together. The one thing I knew for certain was that I was headed for VVR with or without my friend. There was no way I was going over a pass with those ominous clouds hanging about, and it was pretty much the only other option outside of hanging out in my tent all day.

I asked Yvonne to pass word to Pockets if she passed her on the trail, and I didn’t waste any time moving on. The hike started uphill for roughly 2 miles, and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I felt my energy ebb a bit, but I was driven by sheer determination to make it in time for the ferry. The rain began to fall harder, so I had to stop and throw on my poncho, which was a bit of a comedy show. I had only had to wear it once before, and that seemed like eons ago. There was some trick to getting it to cover me and my pack, and in my haste I found that I’d stuck my head through the arm hole. I shrugged at this minor problem as it was functional,and I was on the move with little time to spare. I flew through beautiful green space, ferns and wildflowers abundant and sometimes overgrown onto the trail. I loved the damp air, the smell of damp earth, the droplets of water that would transfer to my cool skin from nearby plants. It was a lovely morning. I am a gal of the Pacific Northwest after all.

I reached the turnoff for the VVR trail in great time. I’d been hoofing it at a pace nearly 3mph, which bode well for my catching the 9am ferry across the lake. Just as I began the final 1.4 mile push, I heard a loud scratching sound. It sounded like perhaps a raccoon climbing a tree, but when I located the source of the sound it was a bear! A small black bear was climbing a tree, and it stopped on the smallest of dead branches staring back at me. I stood there dumbfounded at first, and then snapped a picture before moving on. I had a sharp awareness for a potential mama bear lurking nearby but saw nothing more afterwards. I thought it kind of silly how scared that bear was of me, when it is the object of great fear out here. I did look like a giant jellyfish in my poncho, so maybe that worked to my advantage. Better bears are scared of humans in the long run (and jellyfish).

I arrived at the beach with no further incident. It was a long walk across the sand that used to be the bottom of Lake Edison. The water level was so low that we had to walk an extra quarter mile or so before reaching water. I wasn’t sure when the next ferry would arrive, so I sat on the windy shore contemplating how long I would wait before just walking. I got up and paced the beach, deciding I was too cold to sit still when I saw a boat moving towards me. I was relieved to not have to walk the apparently rough 4.5 miles around the lake. I had just managed 7 miles in 2.5 hours, and was ready for pancakes!

The boat ride was chilly, and I was the only passenger headed to the resort. I was dropped on shore where I ran into some fellow hikers headed back to the trail. I don’t know why they would choose to hike on in this rain if they didn’t have to but hey, hike your own hike. Just as I got in the warm jeep, and they into the cold boat, the rain began again. I was so happy with my choice to come here, it seemed meant to be. If only Pockets got my message!

When I walked into the store/cafe Pockets was already there! She had hiked an alternate trail, and managed to beat me while I waited for the boat ride. I was so happy to see her, and it turned out we had the same inclination the day before, both nervous the other wouldn’t agree. Alas, here we were, and it felt good. We spent the day eating, doing laundry, etc. We met some new friends, reacquainted with old friends, and generally enjoyed some down time. We all plan to hike out tomorrow and get our move on to Yosemite in just 3.5 days with a stop at Red’s Meadow for dinner in 2 nights. It’s been great to hang out in the Sierra for the last week, but it feels good to experience the other side of things as well. Trail towns are just as much a part of the PCT as the hiking in a way. It’s when we all become somewhat (sometimes barely) civilized for a day or two and get to relax and share our stories. It’s a beautiful time of human connection that balances out the beautiful time of nature connection on the trail. I love it all.

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