August 27, 2002 Purple Lake to Silver Pass Creek 45º—72º @MHP
Left Purple Lake (and here, and here) around 8:10 a.m. On the way out, passing another tent, a young man out in front of his tent was barely awake. He asksed if I had seen the bear last night. No, I told him. “It was the coolest thing I ever saw. I can’t believe you didn’t see it; it walked right by your sleeping bag.” So there was another bear experience, but one I missed.
The trail ascended to yet another pass, then descended to Lake Virginia, at 10,338′. This was pretty standard fare; ascend to a pass, descend to a lake or valley, ascend again. The entire JMT is a series of ascents and descents; a couple of miles of level hiking is a rare thing indeed, and one must learn, as I was learning at this time, that you either accept this fact or go crazy.
Lake Virginia was beautiful (it took us an hour and a half), and a very large area, too. Seemed to be much good camping around there if necessary. We came upon an older couple there who were taking an extended weekend backpack trip in the area. Chatted for a while. Left Lake Virginia, had a brief ascent, then could see Tully Hole way, way down below. A very long, hard haul down to there; and my feet were starting to hurt. I recall seeing coming up the trail a man who looked almost ghostlike. I don’t remember the details, just that he seemed to be in a daze as he trudged up the trail.
We made it all the way down, then to a trail junction by (I think) Fish Creek. It was actually pretty warm here, and we stopped for a breather and to filter water. I also recall dreading the next ascent, up to Squaw Lake. Which was long and rather steep, rather tough. Then from there to Silver Pass, which wasn’t so bad. Ran into Tim and Cheryl again around here. While at the top of Silver Pass I noticed clouds; perhaps rain in the near future? After Silver Pass, there was a rare section of trail which was quite level, but even there my feet are complaining some. And then below that, where camping is marked “good” on the map, there was little water. We finally chose a camping spot, near a creek which was little more than a seep. The location was nice; a valley just at timberline. At bedtime, I got my super lightweight tarp out and practiced setting it up; just in case. That day we’d hiked 11.6 miles.