Monday June 1
When the climb up to Selden pass started, I began counting switchbacks on the trail. It began to level off when the count got to 23. We were halfway to the top.
When you are through-hiking, there are several things that dictate how far you are going to hike on any given day. These include availability of water, your food supply, amount of elevation gain, and physical hazards (ice, melting snow, storms, high water, etc.). Today, the concern was elevation and whether we could hike 15 miles to cross Selden Pass and get to a campsite on the other side.
We were on the trail at 6. The river and mountains were gorgeous in the morning sunrise.
To our delight, the trail headed down or was relatively flat for the first three hours of hiking. That made for easy miles in our quest to cross Selden pass. We soon got to the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. We crossed on sturdy bridges.
The mountains above us showed evidence of past glaciation.
We soon entered the John Muir Wilderness. I love how the trail is often lined with pine cones.
As we climbed toward Selden pass, the view of the surrounding peaks got better and better.
We stopped to get water about halfway up, and a gentleman came hiking from the pass. We asked for directions to Vermillion Valley Ranch (VVR), and he showed us a map to get there via the Bear Creek Trail. He also offered to host us at his home when we get to Sierra City or Belden! His name is Tom Long.
On the way up we passed the beautiful Sallie Keys lakes. There were good sized trout in the outlet stream and feeding in the lake.
By 12:30 we made it to the top. The elevation was 10,877 feet. I got a picture of Willy at the top.
The difficulty with this climb was the three or four false summits. It's always disappointing to think you're to the top only to find another climb ahead!
On the way down, we realized that it was only three miles until we would have to ford Bear Creek. This creek has been described as "one of the wildest river crossings on the Pacific Crest Trail ... and is often cited as the most dangerous crossing." Willy and I didn't talk much for the next hour as we contemplated the crossing.
When we finally arrived at Bear Creek, we watched a group of hikers cross the river. Although the current was strong, the water only came up halfway between the knee and waist. We took it slow and made it across without mishap. This is what the crossing looked like.
We hiked until 4:30 and found a great campsite right next to Bear Creek.
I am camped tonight at PCT mile 872.6. The elevation here is 8,763 feet.