Seavey Pass was no big challenge for Quoi and I today, as we made our way through the mosquito-infested trail to Wilma Lake.
According to Quoi, she had to chase away more deer this morning, again at 2 am. Apparently, they came thundering into camp, this time hanging out around my tent. Quoi yelled and clapped at them to chase them off. I heard absolutely nothing, which also probably means that if something actually dangerous (like say, a bear) wanders through camp, I’m probably going to be of no help chasing it away.
Naturally, we started about 20 minutes later than our planned 6 am start time. It was a bit cool out; while an hour past sunrise, the sun had not yet crested the nearby mountains, so we were still in the shade for awhile. This was great for the uphill climb we started our day with.
Like many of the other passes we’ve crossed since Mammoth Lakes, Seavey Pass didn’t really feel like a pass, aside from the steep climb up. It had some nice lakes, though.
After the pass, we had to deal with a bit of sporadic snow that blocked part of the trail, including on some pretty steep slopes where the places where people had previously walked had started to melt away, making for some tricky half-snow half-rock walking. The trail began a long downhill, gradually descending into a canyon to cross Kerrick Creek. Quoi remembered the creek crossing being pretty dangerous last year, but fortunately, a giant log remained that made for an easy crossing, though getting to the log was a bit tricky.
After about ten miles hiking and another creek crossing, we took a break with Jumanji after a stream crossing, where we got into a discussion on how (well-intentioned) friends will occasionally say they want to join a thru-hiker on the trail briefly, and then bail out after realizing how incredibly unprepared they are for the reality of this sort of hiking. Alluding to the recent reality of the Sierra for us, Jumanji quipped, “There’s a big difference between postholing for three hours, and thinking you can.”
Later, When I got to an overlook of Wilma Lake, a park ranger was there to check permits, She was also a tiny bit preoccupied by the osprey that was flying around WIlma Lake, though the whole time I was at the overlook, it was too far away to really see anything more than, “yup, that’s a bird on the other side of the lake”.
She also asked where I was planning to camp, and offered a couple of possible alternatives, including (her favorite) one that was higher up on a rock that had a great view.. Her directions were a tiny bit confusing, and she was apparently done checking permits for the day, so she led me down the trail to where the access for the campsite she was talking about was. That actually was a big help, since she knew how to quickly avoid the flooded sections of the trail that were close to Wilma Lake.
She left me at the access point to the campsite, which itself looked like a terrible campsite with horse manure and a really bad mosquito swarm, and pointed me to a rock climb past a fallen tree. After she left, I dropped my pack and climbed up the rock up to the top. There was a great view from there, of Falls Creek flowing further west, but I didn’t actually see much in the way of good campsites, especially one large enough for both Quoi and I. It was mosquito-free, though, likely because it was a bit more windy. Not really wanting to go down the way I came up, I found a much easier path down that brought be almost right back to my pack.
It didn’t take long for the mosquitoes to swarm me in full force. Even with insect repellant on, I had to put on my rain jacket and bug net on to have a modicum of peace, which just meant that instead of biting, the swarm just landed on my rain jacket and looked forlorn. I ate some snacks and waited for Quoi, walking down the trail a little bit to a marsh where the trail crossed Wilma Lake’s outlet. While my back was turned, Quoi snuck up and sat down on a log next to my pack, which surprised the heck out of me when I turned around and found her there. Apparently, it looked like I was investigating the deeper mysteries of the universe and she didn’t want to disturb me.
We continued on, crossing the outlet which, while flooding the trail, wasn’t especially deep at the crossing, since the trail had been built up with stonework there. Shortly after, we reached the crossing of Falls Creek, which was a bit wide, and just over knee-deep where we crossed. (It was easily much deeper if you didn’t take your time to find the shallow path.)
We camped just past that crossing, in a large flat area with plenty of tentsites. Sea Biscuit, whom we had met at the hostel in Mammoth Lakes, joined us at the mosquito-infested campsite.
Dinner with mosquitoes swarming around me was not particularly fun. I cooked dinner with my bug net on, removing it to eat. On more than one occasion, mosquitoes suicided into my dinner, or an untimely swat sent them flying to the same fate. Picking dead mosquitoes out of your dinner really rather sucks.
Tomorrow: get up “early” to avoid the mosquitoes as long as possible for an 18 mile day over a mosquito-infested meadow, through Dorothy Lake Pass, to exit Yosemite National Park.