Day 41, June 4th or something. I’m losing track.
Start: below silver pass, mile 887
End: mammoth lakes, best western. A real bed

We get to town today!!! Everyone is extremely excited. Town means shower, laundry, pizza, beer, ice cream, a real bed, and maybe even a hot tub! We pack up quickly and hit the trail. It’s a big climb up to lake Virginia, and we all cruise up it. We take a break at the lake to eat, drink, and soak in the views. But it’s cold. Wicked cold. So we march on, down and past purple lake and finally to duck pass trail junction.

We decided to take this trail into mammoth. Snort, at VVR recommended it, and said it’s a beautiful hike. I’ve done the jmt twice, and the section we’ll miss isn’t anything to write home about. Plus, after retracing my steps in areas I’ve already been, the sound of a new pass, and new lakes really excites me.

Duck lake was no let down. It’s the largest lake I’ve seen up here in the sierras. Just huge, and covered in ice. The trail climbs steadily on the lakes north shores, and the views were fantastic! Coughee, sheriff, carrot, Guthrie and I made it to duck pass easily, and were greeted with miles of snow! It was beautiful looking down at all of the lakes we would pass. Supposedly this is one of the most popular day hikes in the area, getting up to duck lake pass. I can see why, it’s a beautiful hike down.

We talk to a ranger at the trailhead who tells us of a trolley that runs by every hour. It’s free, and will take us into mammoth. Awesome! We shuffle out for another mile or two down the road, and see the trolley going by before we’re to the larger road. We yell as loud as we can at it in desperation. It stops!

“Best day ever!” Says carrot. I agree. Just an amazing day. We’re in mammoth lakes now. A large ski resort town in the eastern sierras. It reminds me a lot of the swanky ski villages in Colorado. Here I’ll send some stuff home, get some food, get a new pair of shorts (I’ve lost so much weight that my shorts with an adjustable belt still won’t stay at my waist), and enjoy a nice shower and do my laundry. It’s always exciting getting to town. Funny as it is, as we’re walking to the hotel we pass the mammoth lakes brewery, and out comes tiny, big sauce, not a chance, Mack, and mungo. They got in earlier in the day. We enjoy a nice brew and catch up on our high pass experiences. It’s great to be with everyone. We’ll all zero tomorrow and really rest our bodies. The high passes are done, for the most part, and our bodies can feel the stress from traveling up and over them. It’ll be our first zero since Kennedy meadows, some 200 miles back. I think of all that we’ve been through since then. All the snow, the post holing, the route finding, the freezing river crossings. But most of all, I think of what a great time it all was. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. The sierras are magical. I could spend all summer here. But we’ll leave and travel north to new landscapes.

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Lake Virginia.

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Duck lake. I love duck lake!

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Close up of my beard. Nearly 5 months!

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Hotel hiker scene