After a relaxing night drinking beer and eating real food at VVR, it was time to get back on the trail to hopefully reach Mammoth in a couple days time. We ate a fat breakfast at the diner, closed out my tab, and I rearranged my bear can to fit 10 days of food from my resupply box. Even though I'll be in Mammoth in a few nights, shipping my food out of VVR ahead on trail was going to cost me an arm and a leg. I opted to just carry it.
Righteous and Big Daddy packed up their gear and the three of us headed out. Because of VVR's odd location from the trail, we had a couple options for jumping back on the JMT. We could take a boat ride for $15 across Edison Lake, nope too much money. We could road walk for several miles back tot the trail, nope road walking makes you want to poke your eyes out. We could get a $10 shuttle from a VVR staffer, nope need that money for beer in town. We could take another alternate trail up a completely separate Goodale Pass and rejoin the PCT at mile 886, yes let's do that. We were told it was a "beautiful" hike. Well it was...for about a mile. It turned into a painful climb through dense forest up and out of the valley that VVR rests in. It was hot, like the desert. It was much lower elevation hiking than we have grown accustomed to. Mosquitoes were on a rampage. We whipped out bug nets out and press for higher elevation. As soon as we hit the snow line, everything went to shit. No trail at all. Mostly because this isn't the well traveled PCT. The snow from the long winter obliterated the forest and the result was a trail covered in dead and rotting trees laying across, swamping marshes that eat your shoes, and more snow. A quick and easy day turned into another 8 hour bushwhacking session. We're getting good at this.
It came time to cross a creek on the ascent and two other dudes from VVR were loosely hiking with us. One of them, Opie, crossed the river and was immediately swept away on his feet, spinning around out of control, with his 40lb pack bucked around him tight. We all immediately dropped our packs and ran down the shore of the river praying he wouldn't be swept away. My heart stopped for a minute as I processed what was happening. Luckily, Opie saved himself and was able to pull to the side for us to grab him out of the torrent. You cannot mess around and rush into a river crossing. This can happen to any of us. He got away soaking wet but the river took his trekking poles.
We kept going up the mountain trying to locate the actual Pass.
After several hours of frustrating hiking, slipping, siding, and post-holing, we reached the summit. Man was it a beautiful treat. Another big reveal of the next section of Sierra that we will soon travel through. It was 5pm - late for us to be summitting a Pass, we decided to boogie down the other side to hopefully catch some sun to warm and find a place to camp below tree line. We hauled ass down snowy fields and into the woods, where more snow blanked the parts that hardly get good sunlight. We raced towards the sun and got to the bottom of the next valley. When we reached a good camp I found ViPR, Fun Dip, and Harley. They already had a fire going along another raging river. We pulled over and stayed with them. A bad day turned good.