The Silver Divide Trip - Monday, September 13th through Friday, September 24th, 2010
Devil's Graveyard Trailhead near Edison Lake/Vermillion Valley Resort

See pictures of the trip including Flash movies
See pictures of the trip but without the Flash movies
Peter Pande Lake
Graveyard Lakes View

The Silver Divide 2010 trip started at the Devil's Graveyard trailhead near Edison Lake/Vermillion Valley Resort on Monday, September 13th, 2010, and ended at the same trailhead Friday, September 24th (yes, still 2010). 12 days, 11 nights. The weather was pretty great with a couple "is it going to rain?" moments, but the only precip was a freckle of hail and some drops on Wednesday, the 22nd. But hey, skip all this blah blah and get to the good stuff using the links above if you haven't already! Pictures are way better than words.

Trip Report

Who? Apple (me) and Julie "Kanani" O'Rielly. When? September, fully after Labor Day. Other humans encountered while "out there"? Not many. In fact, we went 8 full days not seeing another human. The only working theory I could come up with is that the Monday we started was the first show of the new and last season of Oprah. Chuckle.

The original plan for the trip was to hike over Goodale Pass, swing down through the "Indian Lakes" and spend some days at Peter Pande Lake and Anne Lake (and maybe Olive), and then when the sad time came to leave reality for what passes as "civilization", we'd hike out over Silver Fox Pass (also known as Graveyard Pass) and spend a couple days at Graveyard Lakes (where'd we'd been 12 years ago) before getting back down to Edison Lake/Vermillion Valley Resort. Silver Fox Pass is a cross-country route, so we figured in a reconnaissance day hike to explore it and make sure it was something we could do.

I'd posted a question about the "pass" on High Sierra Topix forums and lots of good people had given advice, but the key words I'd glossed over were "if you're comfortable hiking on talus." Neither Julie nor I really are comfortable hiking on "talus" much... If the forum posting had said "large scree" instead of "talus" I'd have known immediately. Not that "talus" isn't accurate for those huge, refrigerator-like blocks of crumbled granite, but it just didn't trigger the correct picture in my noggin'. The bottom line is that for some people choosing steps thru and over those nice big solid (and for the most part) stable chunks of beautiful granite is just jolly good fun, but Kanani and I are not those people.

In short, we got to the talus and ventured about 300 feet into the early, still-quite-level bunch of it - even seeing that we were on track for where others had tread (footprints in the rare dirt spots, or trail-markers) - but even with our trekking poles and only daypacks, we were happy to agree that neither of us were into it, especially with full packs. So we turned that day hike into just an enjoyable exploration of the beautiful alpine area above the lakelet to the east of Peter Pande Lake (we named it Tinker Bellde Lake), and did explore up to a saddle between Peter Pande and Tinker Bellde before returning to Peter Pande by the trail.

Silver Fox Pass Silver Fox Pass

Warning: Objects in photos are steeper than they appear... I now realize why ski slope shots always look so much less steep than they are. It is only natural to tilt the camera up towards the horizon. I took the photo on the left and did that a little, but even once you get up close to the pass, steepness is probably not a huge issue here. For us it was the hiking on scree aspect! Julie took the photo on the right and it shows a little more context. The alpine beauty nestled just below the talus fields was much more jolly and luscious to explore!

Notice how I got ahead of myself? Before we got to anywhere I just described, we did hike up from the trailhead, into the Ansel Adams Wilderness, and somehow without seeing a sign, we were then in the John Muir Wilderness to camp in a groovy little camp on the ridge near the junction to Graveyard Lakes. The next day we went up and over Goodale Pass with Kanani unusually beat up by it all as she was juggling what we figured were allergies she'd started in with just before the trip, but suspicious in their multi-dayness, turned out to be... a cold! So she actually went over Goodale Pass (and it is a real mountain pass) at what probably was the height of a fresh cold. (Neither of us usually have allergies up there in all the beauty. And can't think of another time either of us had a cold.)

Down from Goodale (very stark and open up there) we dropped to Papoose Lake, and on those switchbacks down I stopped and finally attended to my toes. I already had a blister in the works! The downhill was doing it to me... So I did some toe packaging with lamb's wool and we continued down to Papoose and beyond to Lake of the Lone Indian.

A cold and blisters... Usually these trips are free of any of those kind of troubles, I tell ya, but just to keep a good perspective - backpacking and being "out there" is so wonderful that much is tolerable. Anything beyond mosquitos (which there weren't any of this trip) just isn't what we're used to... But it was still all good!

Of course there was another oddity to throw on the pile. I'm big into the picture taking in them thar hills, and since I've gone digital I've been overly cautious to make sure I have plenty of memory and plenty of battery power. That gets tricky for the long ones (JMT for 26 days), and even for a 12 day trip I'm carrying an extra set of rechargeable AAs than I'll likely need. But this time - yikes! One set of the freshly charged were dogging it after one day (low battery?!), and another set was dead dead dead. And trust me, I choreograph the charging of these babies before a trip big time. So while I'm still not sure why (or how I'll build confidence in the future), I was down to one solid set of batteries, and those were of the flavor that deliver less overall power but will not lose gas as quickly while not in use. In other words, the perfect batteries to end the trip with if ever I need them. So "need them" I did this time, but... And this is a HUGE BUTT! I had no choice but to ration myself and not take my usual mountains of photos of the mountains that I usually take. Especially the movies. So 16 GBs of memory, and I had to scale back to only taking the "absolute must" photos and shooting just quick, short movies when I really had to.

So it was an odd trip in a number of ways we're not used to, and 8 days without seeing another human? Not used to that either, but liked it a lot! Uh, no offense to other humans, especially those reading these words... I think 3 and a half days was the longest previously... Also odd was how warm it was for September, and like last September's trip, we saw no marmots. What is up with that?! But really, none. Heard them a couple times, but we're used to seeing plenty of the puckish little guys.