I might be leaving the JMT – Day 4 of the JMT
Sleepless Nights… Again
I might be leaving the JMT. How did I get here? It’s been a year of planning and this is the last thing I thought I would say when I went to sleep last night. Wow, if I thought the night before was bad, this one topped them all! The night started off normal; pain in my hips from hiking so far and trouble falling asleep. Advil helped to take the pain away, but I still couldn’t sleep. It seemed like a mild form of restless leg syndrome, so I took one of my restless leg syndrome pills as well. I get restless leg syndrome quite often which if you might remember from my previous post, “I’m Lost,” is excruciating at times. At first, it seemed to work, but what was to come was much worse than any annoyance that my legs could give me.
Vomiting and The Shits
I woke up in the middle of the night with a slightly sick feeling. Then a wave of heat flooded my body. My mouth began to water. Oh no, I know what this means. I jump out of my hammock, not caring to put on shoes, hunch over a log on my hands and knees, and let the vomiting commence. I heave about three times and then I think I’m better, so I crawl back into bed.
I’m not better. My lower stomach has a pain so severe and I know what that eventually means. I lay for a while wishing it to go away and then I admit defeat. I jump out of bed, put on my shoes, grab my toilet paper, and run out into the woods. There’s no time to prep. I’m so sorry. I have no time to dig a hole. Instead, I just pull down my pants and go. Afterwards, I stumble back to my hammock. I still feel horrible and my stomach still hurts, but I climb back into bed. Another heat wave comes. Oh no! So I jump out of bed, assume the hands and knees position, and let her go. Hopefully, that’s the last of it. I’ll clean up this disaster in the morning.
Sleep At Last & My Morning Routine
Sleep finally finds me, and I wake up at 7 a.m. Not enthusiastic from the lack of a good night’s sleep, I just lay there for about 20 minutes. At least I don’t feel sick anymore. Hopefully, the cleanup work doesn’t bring the feeling back. Oh well, I must get up. Today I head to Reds Meadow Resort for a day of food, beer, a shower, laundry, and a real bed! Just the thought is enough to bring me back to life.
When Deers Are Creepers
I complete my usual morning routine, and I’m sure by now you don’t need me to tell you what it is. There was one big difference though… other than the fact that I had to clean up my mess from the night before. As I was completing my morning pee, I looked to the side and noticed that a deer was watching me. What a creeper! LoL! I carefully get up, pull up my pants, and slowly walk to my backpack to grab my camera. Magically I did not frighten her away. She stayed eating her breakfast about twenty feet from me, looking up every once in a while to see if I was still there. After a while, she got spooked and ran off. What a cute little deer.
An Easy Day On The Trail
After a once over the campsite to make sure I didn’t forget anything, I head out on the trail. Today is going to be short and easy. I’m so happy for that. It’ll make up for the fact that this will probably be one of the most boring parts of the trail, which is why I was trying to go around it on the Minarets Loop. No luck with that though. I guess we will just power on through.
After a short incline up, the rest of today is all downhill, and the lack of nice scenery makes me delve deep into my thoughts. I think about my relationship, my work, my kids, my friends, and my family. I have hours to think. It’s one of the reasons I love to hike. I’ve said it before; nature does not judge you; It’s only there to listen. I can talk to myself, cry, laugh, yell, or fall straight on my ass. There is no judgment. There are no comments or solutions.
When Thoughts Consume You
Today, an upcoming event made me question if I should be out here. Should I have canceled? Am I being selfish? Early this summer my fiancé’s mom passed away. I went to see her the day before she passed and there was no doubt that I would be at her memorial. That was until the memorial landed right when I would be hiking the JMT. I’d been planning this trip for a year. I had everything booked and my permit in hand. I had the time requested off from work and backups in place. When would this time come again? This is what she would have wanted right? She would have wanted me to go on this journey right?
Nancy Henry was an avid hiker, and many of her best friends were avid hikers too. She loved nature and the outdoors, and her bookshelves were lined with hiking maps, botanical guides, and nature photography books. For her eightieth birthday, just last year, we all went on a hike at her request. I hope I’m that active so late in my life. She reminded me of me. A lover of the outdoors, quiet but also talkative when she had something to say, a soloist who enjoyed her alone time, but also secretly wished she spent more time with others, stubborn but not up for conflict, a lover of books and artwork. Yes, I miss her. But wouldn’t she want me to continue on this journey?
Memorials Are Not For The Dead
Then as I was hiking I realized, the memorial is not for the dead. The memorial is for the living. This is a time for those who need closure to come together and support each other through that time. I should be there to support David. I know he would do it for me. He did it for me when my brother passed away. He didn’t have to come, but he did. Even now on this trek of mine, he’s requested time off from work just to see me, hold me, and spend time with me. The more I think, the more I am sure that I might be leaving the JMT. The trail will always be here, but friends and family will not.
When Thoughts Consume You
I think of so much more as I walk. My mind races, which isn’t always a good thing. Some thoughts are helpful like planning more time with my friends. Some thoughts are not so helpful like all the what-ifs and maybes, the fears and insecurities. I hate when I get in that spiral. Tears roll down my face.
Up ahead I see two downed trees. They’re lying on top of each other in what looks like an eternal embrace. It’s as if they fell at the same time and refused to let go. Now they will lay this way forever. It’s a romantic thought. Love forever. I’ve already been through one marriage and am soon to enter my second. This will be his fourth. Rightfully so, he doesn’t believe in marriage anymore and would rather not get married again. I still have hope though. Eternal love, an eternal embrace. Yes, that’s the romantic in me; true love and destiny. He’s quite the opposite; realism and truth. I guess we balance each other, but sometimes it’s hard.
Devil’s Postpile Monument
After hours of thinking in solitude, I finally ended up at the Devil’s Postpile National Monument. I say finally, but really I’ve only been hiking about 3 or 4 hours. It was an easy day for sure! The Devil’s Postpile is not technically part of the JMT, but it’s a common alternate route. The formations looked amazing! I don’t even understand how something like this could form naturally, but I’ve always said that nature is an artist. The tall linear formations stand erect and then flow to the side like a wave. It’s gentle curvature, and subtle green accents mesmerize me. I stand there to take it all in for a while, but then press on.
Reds Meadow Resort
Just after the Devil’s Postpile, I came upon Reds Meadow Resort. You don’t know how happy I was! Beds, showers, food, laundry! I’m so lucky to be able to stay here. Tomorrow is their last day being open before the road closes for construction. I’ll admit that the visit was a bit like something out of the apocalypse given that their grocery shelves were bare, and with almost every order at the restaurant, they announced that yet another item was no longer available.
The first face I saw was Wayfinder (whom I had met on the bus on day 1 of the trail. She was still waiting for her friend Baldie to arrive, and Jammin went to town. I tried checking in, but it was too early. Instead, I got a big burger with a root beer float (before they too got axed from the menu) and chatted with Wayfinder at the tables. While eating, the resident chipmunk found my bag of peanut butter pretzels in my backpack and proceeded to eat them. Hey! Those are mine!
Relaxing In Style
After lunch, I was finally able to check into my room. It is pretty basic, but the bed is cozy and has a warm blanket. The room itself was freezing though, so I plugged in the portable heater to take the chill out of the air. I can’t believe I have this whole room to myself! I booked it for two people thinking that either David or Shannon would travel this first section with me, but alas, they could not. No worries though. Now I get this whole place to myself! Next up… shower! I gathered up all my clothes and headed to do laundry and wash up. Luckily I found shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the hiker box. Score!
Taking a shower after multiple days of hiking is like heaven! I put enough money in for ten minutes, and I needed every second. I did a double scrub of my hair, put in extra conditioner, and scrubbed every inch of my body. Oh, the little things! Afterward, I went back to my cabin to chill. I talked to David on the phone, wrote in my diary, sorted all the food I had left, and charged my battery bank.
Friends and The Social Aspect
When I headed out to check on my clothes I saw both Wayfinder and her friend Baldie hanging out by the charging station, so I pulled up a chair to chat. Soon Jammin came over and various others to chat about the hike and life. It was a great night. I ordered up a hotdog and hot chocolate right before closing and we ate and laughed for about an hour or two. So this is what it’s like to thru-hike and share the experience with others. I’m normally a hermit, so this social aspect is all new to me, and I have to admit that I love it!
Then it was off to bed. Tomorrow I hope to hike as far as possible so that I won’t have to hike far the next day into VVR. Here’s hoping it’s not another tough day. Good night! This girl is going to have sweet dreams tonight in a real bed!
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Chana, I appreciate reading your posts looking at the numerous beautiful pictures. I wonder what it was that made you feel so sick. If I had such a bad night, I’d be tempted to rest easy and get a later start. Some day I’d like to make an attempt at the JMT, maybe next year.