Hiking with Holly

Backpacking Mammoth 2015: Day 3

Minnow Creek Trail Junction to Lake Virginia

Miles: 10

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Sunrise in Cascade Valley.

Morning brings us mainly clear skies with the sun trying to peek through the trees.  Creepy campsite is not as creepy in the daytime, but still not my favorite. My Starbucks Via is doing its job of waking me up and we work on getting our chores done and getting back on the trail.  We make the decision to take the original route as it gets us out of this valley a day earlier.  We are both looking forward to getting away from these blood thirsty mosquitoes.

Having my Starbucks Via to wake up!
Having my Starbucks Via to wake up!

We wait until the last moment to reluctantly put on our hiking clothes.  I hung them all out on branches last night hoping they would be dry by this morning. It looks like a tornado came through and all our clothes got thrown into the trees.  Shirts, socks, pants, underwear, washcloths, jackets, and hats…..there is no dignity out here, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  Ah…they are still nice and damp.  Another reason this is not my favorite campsite.

Gannon is ready to cross the creek to get back on the trail.
Gannon ready to cross the creek to get back on the trail.

Getting  back to the original route means crossing the creek again. It is really cold, but our feet appreciate it. Climbing out of the valley, we are overwhelmed by waterfall after beautiful waterfall.  Rushing water, that crashes down giant rock and granite slabs.  The power that this water has just takes your breath away.  Gannon has noticed a doe and fawn tracks in the trail and we wonder if we will catch up to them.  We finally see our first person since early yesterday afternoon.  He is a very smart guy and is hiking in full netting!  I am wondering if they make those in other colors besides black?

Lot's of water crossings today.
Lot’s of water crossings today.
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One of the many beautiful waterfalls.

I startle and stop in my tracks.  I see a nose and some ears in the distance behind some trees.  I am not hiking with my glasses on as I have decided to only wear them at night.  Things have a bit of a blur to them and it’s looking like a bear.  I am slowly backing towards Gannon quietly saying, “Bear”.  As I do, a head pops up and it is the doe!  We look to the right of her and see her fawn.  The doe is just standing there checking us out for a few minutes.  We take a few pictures and start walking towards them.  They both casually scamper off together into the forest.  How awesome was that?!

The doe in the trees.
The doe in the trees.
Sign to Tully Hole
Sign to Tully Hole.

Our lunch break is at Tully Hole.  We eat my favorite lunch so far…..dehydrated refried beans, one packet of Taco Bell Mild sauce, and a handful of Fritos.  We mix it all together in a Ziploc Freezer bag and eat it with our sporks.  Soo good!  There is a guy having a campfire just off to the right of us and we are shocked, because the ranger told us there were no campfires allowed anywhere.  We see a lot more people in this area as we have just merged onto the JMT (John Muir Trail). We are packing up to leave when the hail starts coming down.

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Getting ready to cross the Tully Hole Bridge.

After waiting a few minutes, we decide to brave the hail and rain.  We have a 700 ft. climb out of Tully Hole and we are not on fresh legs like we are in the mornings.  It really is not that bad.  It is a pretty flat trail with not a lot of technical stuff (boulders, rocks, roots).  I am able to do my mountaineering technique the whole way up.  It might look silly and slow, but you don’t need to take breaks and you exert less energy….which I am all about!  It looks kind of like a wedding march.  Step, lock your knee. Step, lock your knee.  In those brief few seconds that your knee is locked, your muscles get a bit of a reprieve.  Step, lock, step, lock.  I keep a steady pace up the small, steep ridgeline and we make it up to the top in like an hour.

Climbing up Tully Hole.
Climbing up Tully Hole.
Looking down into Tully Hole. We have come a long way up!
Looking down into Tully Hole. We have come a long way up!

We are headed to Lake Virginia, but for the last 2 days Gannon has decided to call it everything but Lake Virginia.  Lake Veronica, Lake Victoria….etc, etc.  At first, it is just by accident, but when he see’s how annoying it can be to me, he starts doing it on purpose.  It ends up being a great way for him to pass the time and it does take our minds off of all the climbing.

Climbing over the pass to Lake Virginia.
Climbing over the pass to Lake Virginia.
Lake Virginia.
Lake Virginia.

At last, Lake Virginia (or at least that is what I think it’s called), by now Gannon has done his job and I’m having a hard time keeping the name straight in my head.  Haha!  We boulder hop over a few watery areas and start to look for a campsite.  We find one with a good wind screen and start our evening routine of setting up camp.  By the late evening, a lot more people have arrived.  99% of them are JMT thru hikers.  We meet John and his wife Robyn.  They are from Toronto and have a campsite just towards the lake from us.  There is good and bad to being around others.  It’s nice to have people around, as you tend to feel a bit safer.  On the other hand, it makes it really difficult to go to the bathroom.  It seemed like every time you found the ideal spot, someone could see you from their campsite.  Ugh!

Gannon taking a walk down to the lake.
Gannon taking a walk down to the lake.
Looking at our campsite coming up from the lake.
Looking at our campsite coming up from the lake.
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Our very posh campsite for the night.

We eat the best dinner of dehydrated Mac and cheese, dehydrated chicken, and some bacon bits.  I pretty much add bacon bits to everything, because bacon makes everything taste better.  We hang all our clothes like hobos again to try and dry out from the wet day.  By 9:00 we are in the tent ready to take our Benadryl and call it a night.  However, the ladies just below us have decided that this is the perfect time to re-organize all their stuff and talk to each other the entire time!  They are the only ones awake/making noise and it has to be right next to us.  Always our luck!

Sunset at Lake Virginia.
Sunset at Lake Virginia.

The best part of the entire trip was at 1:45 am on this 3rd night.  We are both awake and for some reason, Gannon unzips the tent and looks outside.  It is cold and clear.  He tells me I need to get dressed and come out.  WOW!!!!!!  The stars are amazing!  Thousands and thousands, sparkling in the sky.  I see a shooting star as it streaks behind a giant mountain peak.  We wrap our arms around each other and thank God for this blessing of being out here together.

Our Lake Virginia Selfie.
Our Lake Virginia Selfie.

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