Today's miles: 5 (on PCT) + 4 (side trail to VVR) = 9
Total PCT miles: 877
Since we had gone so far yesterday, we only had nine miles left to Vermilion Valley Resort, our next resupply, so we opted to sleep in a little. We woke up to the sound of rain on the tents and Papa Bear's voice, yelling to us as he passed: "Canada won't come to you!"
We were so stunned that Papa Bear was passing us that we were immediately awake. He so often slept in, and we were so sure that he was at least ten miles behind us last night. In fact, he had gotten on trail at 6 this morning and did enough miles to catch up with us by 8:00.
We stumbled out of bed and into the soggy landscape. My shoes, which I had hoped would dry out overnight from yesterday's river fords, were still really wet. We packed up our sodden gear as quickly as possible and hit the trail. It was drizzling all morning, a cold, damp rain, but I couldn't stand to have my raincoat on because hiking was making me overly warm.
We soon hit a climb that went up 2,000 feet in two miles, and between the rain and sweat, I was completely soaked by the time we reached the top. The rain got harder and harder the higher we climbed, and once we stopped I finally had to put my coat on because the chill was sinking into my bones. We reached the trail junction for VVR and took the four mile detour to get to Thomas Edison Lake. There was supposed to be a ferry to take us across, but the water level was so low that the ferry wasn't running, so we had to walk further, instead. It took longer than expected, and we were so eager to get to the resort that we didn't stop for breaks, so by 12:30 I was starving and cranky.
Once we rounded the lake we came upon a group of older men car camping. They were eager to be trail angels for us and shared some beer and stories beneath their tarps to escape the rain. They called themselves the "Assholes from LA" even though they weren't assholes and they were no longer from LA. In fact, they were hilarious to listen to and we enjoyed hearing them tell tales of their yearly trips to Edison Lake. One of the men was a father to two other grown men, and he seemed particularly interested in our journey north, telling us over and over what an amazing experience it was and how he wished he could do something similar.
"You can!" we promised. "We've met a lot of retired men and women on the trail who are doing really well!"
He sighed wistfully. "Maybe some day. I'm just so proud of you guys for chasing your dream. How impressive to travel so far on foot! If only I had kids who would do something that great!"
At this point he gave his two sons a sharp, narrow-eyed look, and they both shrieked,
"We're not hiking the trail, dad!! Give it up!!"
We all laughed.
After chatting with the men for a while, they offered to give us a ride the rest of the way to VVR so we wouldn't have to walk in the rain. The resort itself was small and hidden in the trees, made up mostly of a little store, a campground, and a bathhouse. We started a tab inside for all our supplies, set up our tents and spent the evening with friends who were already there: Games, Reason, Sunset, Lighthouse, St. Alfonzo, Pony, Bird Haus, and Tapper. Games's mother was in town and visiting her and Reason at VVR, so she had brought some real clothes for Games to wear. We were all immediately jealous of her soft, cotton jeans and blouse.
"And look!" she shrieked, for what must have been the hundredth time in glee, "my bra has an underwire!! I have boobs!!"
We spent a very enjoyable evening having dinner with our friends and playing board games and charades. Our games were pulled to an abrupt halt, however, when we noticed a JMT section hiker fall over behind us. As it turned out, he had taken some bad medication and passed out straight into the rocks, bashing in his nose and breaking his cheekbones. When we reached him, he had blood all over his face and was going into shock. Both Bird Haus and Rotisserie were studying to be nurses, so they hurried over to the gentleman and did what they could for him before the paramedics could arrive. Unfortunately, VVR is a treacherous, five hour drive from the nearest town, so it took some time for the ambulance to get there. When the EMTs arrived, they took one look at the hiker and realized they would need a helicopter to fly him to a hospital. They carted him to the lake so the helicopter could land, and he was taken to safety. It was a very humbling and somewhat frightening evening, but we were told the hiker was okay and would recover well. It was nice to see so many helpful and attentive people rushing to his aid, and it reminded me how selfless and good the people I hike with are.