Selden Pass to Vermillion Valley Ranch (aka Paradise) : Days 53-54
Mileage: 853.3 – 878.7
Up until this point, Selden Pass was by far the easiest. Even on a non-snowy year Selden is thought to be one of the less challenging passes. It had very little snow compared to the others and the elevation gain was slow. The hardest part of the pass was actually not even part of it…it was the 4 mile approach to the pass! Anyway, we’ll come back to that later.
We weren’t especially worried about this pass to the point where we didn’t even set the alarm clock. Luckily our bodies have adjusted to wake up around 5:30 anyway. We had pretty flat ground walking along side the San Joaquin River. But then we hit the mother-load… 4 miles of never ending switchbacks and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. (We’re being a bit dramatic, but we were sweating pretty hard.)
After this climb, we passed along Sallie Keyes lake and had a pretty easy climb through the softening snow. The whole climb up to the pass was fairly easy and we were at the summit before we knew it. We had done 12 miles by 11am and we were feeling super. So super, in fact, that we decided we would hike 25 miles and get right to the junction for the trail to VVR.
We did a lot of climbing on this particular day and by the end of it one of us was super tired and possibly grumpy. The other one of us was stoked to get hot food in the morning. His attitude thankfully was contagious. We made a fire to keep the mosquitos at bay and we even saw our first scorpion…I thought we were out of the desert!? Apparently scorpions like to shred the snow too.
878.7 – 882.5 (3.8 miles) +3 (side trail to VVR)
Total of 6.8 mile day
We woke up stoked to get to Vermilion Valley Ranch. VVR is a ranch located across Lake Edison so they shuttle PCT/JMT Hikers to and from the side trail via ferry (pontoon boat). On this particular morning Jim, the owner, was our ferry captain. He picked 13 of us up with a smile on his face and even called the kitchen to ensure they stayed open to serve us breakfast (great guy). Upon arrival we were served unlimited hot coffee as we waited for our breakfast to be served. It was delicious! Cody even had enough room to eat a slice of pie covered in ice cream afterwards.
We picked up our day and a half worth of food to resupply from their very random but appetizing assortment of goodies. We even managed to get some powdered chocolate milk from their hiker box (this would be one of our favorite drinks for the days to come). We chatted with fellow hikers and enjoyed our time relaxing before the outbound ferry took us back to the trail. We even got one free beer each. This went great with our lunch. The food and the service at VVR are phenomenal. This has been one of our favorite stops so far and came as quite the treat after completing the early section of the Sierras.
The side trail was 1.5 miles long and the ferry dropped us off at 4:30. We decided to just do a short hike out to keep our day as relaxing as possible. We had 3 or 4 water crossings and we were tipped off that the majority of them had downed trees across them if you wanted to keep dry feet. We did indeed stay dry until the Silver Pass Creek waterfall that thunders down right onto the trail. This spot was impossible to stay dry through. It was a beautiful waterfall but man was it cold!
We hiked less than a mile farther and set up camp, also setting ourselves up to hit Silver Pass in the early morning. It had been a fun day, the exact kind of day you need after pushing so many miles for so many days in a row over the Sierra Nevada range. Hats off to Vermillion Valley Ranch for having such an awesome place that was so attune to the needs (and wants) of us hikers, we sure did appreciate it!
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All of your photos are so gorgeous! You guys are doing great! Are you feeling pretty well and looking forward to your daily hikes?
Have you seen the group that are on horseback lately? You are probably way ahead of them due to the logistics of their hike.
Loving your blog and photos!
Looking at your pictures, I’m starting to think you’re getting them from old “National Geographic “ magazines and you’re both really chillin and working at a Hostel in New Zealand or something…….they can’t be real…….but your photography skills are exemplary!
Wow, you two continue to crush the miles and take in some of the most beautiful sites/scenery to be seen.
It really is exciting to read your adventures, see the pictures and enjoy your smiles.