My original plan was to take 4 days to hike the 77 km from Red’s to MTR, but after my marathon day from the Valley to Tuolumne I was eager to test if I could do something like that again.
And thus my plan became to hike about 36 km the first day, 33 km the day after and to finish with 8 km to MTR on the third day.
The climb out of Red’s Meadow wasn’t all that steep, so I made good progress. The first few kilometers wound through fields of ferns, with broken charred trees sprinkled in between. A strange sight! Around noon, I reached Purple Lake which was very pretty, so I decided to stop and let my feet rest for a bit. I attempted some fishing for a short while, but didn’t manage to catch anything. Lunch would be energy bars and trailmix only.
In the afternoon the hike continued upwards, first past Lake Virginia which was even more breathtaking than Purple Lake. I soaked my feet there for a little while and then pushed on, first down to Fish Creek and then all the way back up, to Silver Pass. There’s a couple of really beautiful lakes right before the pass as well. By the time I got to the top, it was close to 6PM and I was more than ready to call it a day. It would take me another hour to get down from the pass and find a suitable campsite next to Silver Lake. Luckily the sky was clear, so I didn’t have to bother setting up the tarp.
Sunrise next morning, I woke up to condensation on all of my sleeping gear. Not wanting to make matters worse by forcing wet down in a stuff sack, I decided to let everything dry out first. Around 9AM, about 2 hours later than intended, I finally hit the trail again. Luckily the first part was all downhill, so the initial kilometers went by quickly.
Soon I reached the switchbacks up to Bear Ridge Trail. The 8 km to the top of this pass are grifted in my memory as one of the most difficult of the whole trail. This might have to do with the fact that I was trying to get up at a pace of about 5 km/h :). I can’t quite remember if I succeeded, but it was pretty close and tired me out immensely.
No time to rest however, I still had Selden Pass to get over that day… In the early afternoon, I did have to take a break near the beautiful clear waters of Bear Creek, to filter some water and because my feet were killing me, more specifically the arches. Luckily for my feet, I had some kinesio tape with me and a PDF on my phone showing how to apply the tape for exactly this condition. Worked great!
All bandaged up, I started for the last 15 kilometers of the day, up to Selden Pass. Right before the pass was one of the most beautiful lakes yet, Marie Lake. Dotted with tiny islands it reminded me a bit of Thousand Island Lake, but the view was even more beautiful.
On the way down Selden Pass, I first passed Heart Lake, which I’m sure you can guess the shape of. Next was Sallie Keyes Lakes, my destination for the day. Good thing, because I was about ready to collapse. But I made it :)! I set up my bivy at the edge of a meadows near the lake, had dinner and fell very fast asleep.
The next morning, my camping spot neighbors told me they discovered fresh bear and mountain lion prints, but none of us saw or heard a thing during the night.
Since I wasn’t planning on doing much more than 8 km, I spend a couple of hours that morning fly fishing the lake. Even though I didn’t manage to land a fish, it was really fun. The lake was full of trout and they were swimming right by the shoreline. You could see when they were about to go for the fly, which was awesome. I actually did have one hit, but when the trout started fighting the line broke…
After all that early morning excitement, I hurried down the trail to Muir Trail Ranch. Most of it was a sandy path, and all of it downhill, so I made good pace. The faster I got to MTR, the sooner I would have my & Chase’s resupply food! Not to mention as much extra food as I wanted from the hiker boxes. Because there’s so much leftover food there, MTR has about fifteen 20 liter buckets sorted by dinner/energy bars/gear/sunscreen/…
Resupplying took forever, because I had a really hard time figuring out what and what not to take with me. I’d sent myself 7 days worth of food, but could only fit about 5 days in the bear cannister. Even that posed a problem, because doing so made it impossible to put my toiletries in the cannister. The first night after MTR, I had to bear hang those.
I stuffed myself like crazy with extra food while there, cheese and tortillas and meat and candy and even a shot of whiskey! About 5 hours after arriving, I said bye to the other hikers at MRT. Since my original 7.5 day plan from MTR to Whitney wasn’t going to work because of the amount of food required, I would need to hike further than originally planned each day, so I had decided to get a couple extra miles in.
Before hitting the trail again, I made a little detour to the hot springs close by, but the brown sulphur-smelling water didn’t look all that enticing, so I decided to leave the puddle for others to enjoy. On the way out, I got checked by a ranger, but he was happy to let me go after seeing my wilderness permit and bear cannister.
Fueled by the power of the resupply, I all but ran the next 11 kilometers in less than 2 hours. I passed a bunch of crazy wild waterfalls, the trail running right next to them on a thin rocky path. There were people fly fishing in some of the more docile sections, but it was getting dark already so I decided not to join them.
A family I met at MTR was my company for dinner and afterwards I had a nice campfire chat with a guy I’d met at MTR as well. Setting up camp took longer than usual, because I had to spend almost 30 minutes to find an appropriate bear hang for the toiletries and some extra snacks which wouldn’t fit the cannister either. A little worried that a smart bear would figure out a way to get to my super tasty candy, I went to sleep.
The next morning would be the start of the final leg of my trip to the summit of Mt Whitney!