INTO VERMILLION VALLEY
PCT DAY 49: Mile 869 – Mile 875)
Wednesday June 1, 2016: 13.7 miles (6 miles on PCT & 7.7 to VVR) (22 km)
The sound of rushing water was our wake up call this morning. We were camped high above Bare Creek which we would need to cross in a little while. Every time I woke up through the night the sound of rushing water gave me shivers. It is listed as possibly the most dangerous creek crossing on the PCT. My thoughts were overrun with what this may mean.
We shared a bowl of porridge for breakfast, which was our last meal before we reach Vermillion. We had no other food left. Just hoping it was not the last meal!
We reached the creek less then 15 minutes from our camp, the creek was certainly running wide and swift. It was white water both upstream and downstream. We tried to find a section that looked like it had a slightly slower current flowing and was not too deep. We stripped of our shoes and I took off my long pants. Hammer decided to go first with a piece of rope tied to a tree in case he should be washed away. I was to follow with the rope tied to my waist.
Hammer made it across safely but I could see how hard he had to work against the force of the flow. The water level was up to the top of his thighs which means waist deep for me. I only made two steps in the freezing cold water before I started to lose all feeling in my legs. The water rushing past felt like razor blades were slashing my legs.It was hard to move the hiking poles against the current and my camp shoes were being ripped off my feet. Slowly with gritted teeth I made the other side. I was a solid block of ice below the waist but feeling so happy that we both made it across. The skin on my legs had turned blue. I don’t think I have ever been so cold. We rushed to get dressed and start to move just to get the blood flowing and warm up. We got hiking on legs that felt like stumps.
And only 15 minutes later it was shoes off again for crossing of two more swollen creeks. Lucky these two were close together. The sun was out we could see it illuminating the tops of the mountains to our right. It just needed to get high enough to make the river valley below. From here there were numerous smaller creeks which we could cross by rockhoping across. In sections the trail was completely inundated with running water flowing like smaller creeks. We followed alongside the course of Bare Creek for some time before we deviated to the right and started to follow the PCT towards Silver Pass. Another silent scream….noooooo not another Pass. I just need a break from snowy passes, time to recharge my mental and physical reserves. But the trail is what it is, you just have to go with it. We climbed in silence and slowly for several miles, I was dreading the thought of hitting more snow and all that it would mean navigationally. But before we hit snow on the way up to Silver Pass we hit the turn off to Bare Ridge Trail and our 7. 7 mile descent to Vermillion Valley Resort on Lake Edison.
This 7.7 miles would have to be the slowest miles we have walked ever. My thoughts were preoccupied with food while Hammer just wanted to get there. We made it to VVR with 10 minutes to spare before the kitchen closed for lunch. I was so happy to have made it I almost cried. I have never been so tested for so long. The last 10 says have been tough but we made it. The hamburgers at lunch were sensational. Not just because we were hungry but because they were the real deal with a proper fat, juicy meat patty. Once we got to our room I saw my face for the first time in weeks. I did not realise how sunburnt my face had been. Big scabs and pieces of skin were peeling off my face. I looked like a survivor from some wilderness expedition. Oh hang on…I think I am.