Ishmael and I left independence late in the day with bellies as full as we could stuff them. We packed out Subway sandwiches and started back up 3000 feet to Kersarge pass. Rainbow Bright joined us for the night at a beautiful little lake halfway up to the pass. Here we sat by a glowing fire as the air became frigid, and made a plan for the 90 miles to Vermillion Valley Resort. We descided four and a half days would be difficult but it would put us there in the quickest order.
Each day had it's own challenges and intense beauty. This 90 miles was quite possibly the most difficult thing I have ever done and it was thru the most unbelievable landscape. I think this was due to my upset stomach and low calorie intake for the first three days of the section that I struggled. I was having trouble eating anything, especially chocolate chip Cliff Bars which were half of my diet. I will never pack so many of the nasty things again.
We traveled over many passes, most of them around 12,000 feet, all of them blanketed by snow. We averaged about 22 miles a day, for each 13+ hour day. With out Ishmael's encouragement, I would probably still be frozen and hungry somewhere in the mountains. On the fourth day we made it to the side trail for Vermillion Valley Resort on lake Edddison, where we headed in the morning for breakfast and a bit of relief from sliding across snow covered passes. We reached VVR before 8 in the morning, and found Furniture and a pot of coffee waiting for us in the restaurant. It was great to see him again, and hear of his impressive solo journey thru the mountains. We stayed for the day and ate and ate more. I ran an impressive food tab for a less than a 24 hour stay, but it's what my body badly needed.
We left with only 30 miles and 1 pass between us and Mammoth. We had a late start, a cold night, and lot more snow, but we easily made it to Reds Meadow, where the first road we have seen in weeks took us to the first real town since Mojave, over 300 miles earlier.
At the outfitter in Mammoth we met Jill, whose roomate thru-hiked in 2008, and had been thinking about hosting hikers. What great luck we have and what kind people we meet! We had been planning on sleeping in the dirt at the campground, but a warm night in a warm home really makes town much more relaxing.
180 miles to south lake tahoe! Then no more snow..... I hope.