Glen Aulin to Vermilion Valley Resort

July 24

Up early this morning and on the trail by 6. The first mile or so was ascending out on Glen Aulin (beautiful valley in Gaelic). There are at least two waterfalls along this route that are pretty impressive, along with some big rapids. The views are very good, and the country side was glacial sculpted and other worldly.

We made it to Tuolumne Meadows around 9am, met Sue, ate a sandwich and soda, replaced my broken pack and resupplied. It was amazing to me how many backpackers were coming and going; even a long line waiting to get permits to start tomorrow.

By noon we were back on the trail and managed another 8 miles to a little camp near a stream and the river. After getting camp setup, I put on my shorts and went down into the river to soak. It was cold, but did not seem to bad until I got back to camp and started to get dressed. Then my arms started to tingle, I started to shake a bit and got cold. I soon warmed up, but I suspect I was borderline hypothermic. Note to self, when the water is cold, get in, clean up, and get out; no soaking.

We saw lots of deer today, including a couple of big bucks, plus a lot of marmots and other small ground dwelling mammals.

Big climb tomorrow, over 11,000, so early to bed tonight.

The river crossing near Tuoloumne Meadows are generally very nice. Bridges make it easier for day hikers to get further back into the wilderness without getting their feet wet.
This is a look across the Tuolumne River towards what I believe is Cathedral Peak, although I could easily be wrong about that.
This cool old tree stood guard over the pathway to our campsite.

July 25

Out of camp shortly after 6 this morning and were soon to the ascent of Donahue Pass, my first 11,000 footer. We both dropped down into grannie gear and headed up the 2000 foot climb. While the climb was by no means easy, it was much more so than earlier climbs. We passed many tents on the way up, as well as a few people. The ego was definitely stroked.

At the pass we transitioned from Yosemite to the Ansel Adam’s wilderness. The view from the pass was majestic, and the walk through the gardens below the pass was amazing.

We also climbed Island Pass, and passed by Thousand Island Lake before dropping off the PCT to take the River Trail, camping a few miles down just above the river.

My stomach started acting up this afternoon and ended up with diarrhea. Hopefully it was just something I ate and is through my system now.

After crossing Donahue Pass, you leave Yosemite and enter into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. The first few miles of this wilderness are a magical place. The views from the pass are simply amazing, and far reaching. And as you descend into the basin below, it is like walking through a manicured garden with countless creeks winding the way from pool to pool and flowers all over the place.
The Thousand Island Lake is a large alpine lake. I don’t know that it has anywhere near a thousand islands, unless you count all the rocks, but it does have a lot of them.

July 26

We’re getting better at getting out in the morning. This morning we were out well before 6 and cruising down the trail. Shortly after 10 we dropped into Red’s Meadow, planning on resupplying and spending the night. But after seeing the camping facilities, we opted to move on down the trail after our resupply.

It took a few hours before Sue got to us (we were pretty early). But once she did we consumed the subs she brought, loaded up with a couple more days of food, and hit the trail.

Nearly 3 miles and 1000 feet of up later, we came to Crater Creek and found a nice place to setup. After camp setup, I got a bath in the creek, did laundry, ate dinner, visited a bit, and now it’s bedtime.

We left Red’s Meadow just behind a dozen mules with riders, out for a short jaunt. Problem was that some of the riders had no control over the mules, who seemed to prefer eating the nearby vegetation to walking down the trail.

We finally got past them and started on our way when a young man passed us. Challenge accepted. I charged after him until he broke on the climb and I cruised on past. Ego’s are such wonderful things. I do feel much better on the hills at this altitude, and that gives me more confidence for the next couple of weeks.

Sometime after camp was setup, we saw a llama train go by with bells a clattering. After a while I noticed that the bells could still be heard. They had setup camp behind us. Hopefully the bells will eventually go to sleep, along with their llama’s.

One of the bridges over the middle fork of the San Joaquin River. Glad we didn’t have to rock hop across this one.
When leaving Red’s Meadow we ended up stuck behind a mule ride. For the most part the mules weren’t interested, and the riders were timid. It made for a bad combination, and we ended up chocking in their dust until able to pass them.

July 27

Lots of climbing today. It started off well, but by the time we made it to the last climb I was really feeling it. I had planned on only spending a single night in VVR to resupply, but have decided to get off the trail for a day or two just to rest and recharge.

There were quite a few people on the trail today, going both ways. There are still a few doing the PCT, but most of them are doing the JMT, or some local travel.

Camped tonight in a basin just a 1000 feet below 11,000 ft Silver Pass. We have had some thunder and a little rain, but it is clear again and windy.

Another day with a series of lakes. This one is Lake Virginia, quite a large alpine lake.
The view from our campsite looking toward Silver Pass.
Looking across our camp to the valley below; the valley we had to walk up to get there. I had to move a lot of rocks to get a tent site prepared.

July 28

Got up this morning at 4:15 and were on the trail an hour later, still pretty dark and climbing by headlamp. I had my light off within 20 minutes and enjoyed to walk up to Silver Pass in the dim early morning light. Once there it was a race to try and make it to the ferry landing on Lake Edison before the 9:45 ferry left for VVR. We made it; by about 5 minutes and were the last ones on a crowded boat.

The only part of the trip down that stuck out to me was when the bottom dropped out of the valley we were following, and we had to descend what must have been 1000 switch backs (or so it seemed). That slowed us down considerably, but otherwise we were able to cruise along at a pretty good clip. Dropping nearly 3000 feet in about 6 miles is good for speed, so long as the trail is smooth, which it mostly was.

The ferry ride across Lake Edison took about 20-25 minutes and was nice. But Vermilion Valley Resort was not really what I had expected. I guess the word ‘resort’ in the name through me off. It is a fairly rustic camp, but does cater to backpackers, having all the facilities that we need. Also, interestingly enough, you setup a tab when you get there, and spend no money until it is time to leave.

The road out to VVR is a nightmare. I wanted to spend a couple of nights in a hotel to be able to really relax and rest up for the southern portion of the Sierra, which are higher and rougher than what I have done so far. So I had arranged for Sue to pick me up, as well as to get Randy off the trail. When she got there it was instantly obvious that something was not right. My normally fearless wife was terrified of the 20 mile, single lane, semi paved, serpentine road out to VVR. I ended up driving back, and will have to arrange for other transportation back from Fresno to VVR. But for now, I am sitting in an air conditioned room with a soft bed and no flies buzzing around and landing in my hair.

The early morning lighting up the mountains around Silver Pass.
These little splashes of color continue to appeal to me. Walking along in the woods and suddenly something like this jumps out and grabs me.
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