I’m Not Going To Quit! Not Today At Least – Day 3 on the JMT

Good Morning!

Well, it’s another day and anything can happen.  Yesterday was not a good day at all (you can read about The Day I Almost Quit if you missed it) but what will today bring?  Will I continue on my original path?  Will I turn back around?  I don’t want to quit.  I’d like to say that I’m not going to quit, but I just don’t know.  What is the right thing to do?  I have to think about safety, reality, and my abilities.  At the same time, I don’t want to shortchange my dreams.  Oh, the dilemma.

I didn’t sleep as well last night as I did the night before, but it wasn’t terrible.  Overall, I slept better than I usually sleep when I’m out camping or backpacking.  My only annoyance was that I kept getting a little pain in my left hip and had to roll over quite a few times to get comfortable.  I would guess it was probably due to all the precise movements I had to make while traversing across the snow.  Or it could have been due to all the times I fell straight on my ass, my side, or my face.  Regardless, I ended up sleeping in until about 6:45 in the morning.  Still not sure what I was going to do, I felt it was too early to make any rash decisions.  Instead, I went back to sleep and slept until about eight.

Am I Ready To Make This Decision?

Time to start the day and decide what I’m going to do.   My energy is renewed, but I know as soon as I start hiking in the snow again, it will suck every ounce of my energy away quicker than I can sing in my best Beatles melody, “Suncup Fields Forever.”  Side note, I sing a lot while on the trail.  As much as I want to continue with my itinerary, I know that I should turn back.  This snow is insane, or rather it’s making me insane.  That being said, I just can’t bring myself to turn around just yet.  I’m not ready to make that decision.  Instead, I have decided to continue ahead up to Sunrise Lakes and over to the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.  At that point, I’ll decide, right or left.  Left will take me on, while right will take me home.

Starting the day off by filtering water from a snow melt stream.

My Morning Routine

With that, I set out on my morning routine.  Get dressed, pack up my home, filter water, and eat breakfast.  Today I ate biscuits and gravy.  They should have called it Biscuit and Gravy though.  Next time I need to remember to dehydrate a few more biscuits to throw in.  This time I ended up just grabbing a tortilla to dip in my gravy.  It was ok, but nothing to write home about.  Once done, I cleaned up the last of my items, loaded up my bear can, and then grabbed my shoes and socks out of the sun.  Boo!  The sun didn’t do much.  It looks like I’ll be wearing wet socks and wet shoes.  I love hiking with wet feet!.. said no one ever.  To be honest it wasn’t that bad though.  Hiking keeps my feet warm, even if they are wet.

On The Trail Again

The hike today started just as bad as the day before. I felt exhausted from the beginning.  Once again, I wished that I had exercised more before coming out here.  All I saw were miles and miles of snow ahead.  There were millions of sun cups but at least I didn’t see snow drifts and tree wells to climb.  Then things started to look up.  I actually saw the trail a few times.  Seeing the trail gave me hope and let me know I was on the right path.  My mood was elevated and I wasn’t wishing to be at home as much as I was before.

I can actually see the trail! A few stairs of the JMT are poking through the snow.

Snow hiking for days!

The View That Made It All Worth It!

Then in the distance, I saw it.  I saw Sunrise Lakes; Well, the first one at least.  It was beautiful!  The turquoise color was so perfect that I thought I was back in Alaska.  Most of the lake was still frozen over but those few turquoise pools made this whole hike worth it.  I know that I couldn’t have enjoyed such pristine beauty all to myself, without this hike.  All I could think was, I’m not going to quit!  On the mountains behind the lake, I could see tiny little avalanches that had rolled down the hill.  I was glad I wasn’t hiking that way.  I paused for a moment to take it all in.  Of course, I had to take a few pictures and a video, and of course, I fell in the process.  Typical!  All I could do was laugh.  Pictures never seem to capture the beauty.  I could take a million shots and never receive a photo as beautiful as what I see in person.  It’s such a pity.  I guess that’s why I’m out here though.

The first sight of Sunrise Lakes.

Pictures never seem to fully show the beauty. Turquoise blue pools poke through on the first Sunrise Lake.

This perfect view of the first Sunrise Lake put a smile on my face.


I followed my GPS around the first of the three lakes and finally ended up at the middle lake.  This was the lake that I was supposed to sleep at last night.  I couldn’t imagine having made it here before sunset.  That would’ve been impossible for me.  I did want to enjoy its beauty though, so I ended up hiking over to the lake and setting up my hammock.  What a perfect spot to take off my shoes, lay down, and have some lunch with a breathtaking view.  Taking a long break consumed a lot of my day, but I was still on track to make it to the Sunset High Sierra Camp by sundown.

Lunch break relaxation. Not a perfect spot to hang since I was starting to bottom out, but it was fine for a quick nap.

Letting my toes air out on my lunch break at middle Sunrise Lake.

The last of the three Sunrise Lakes.

GPS Is Your Friend

Step after step, then I would fall, and get back up.  Repeat and repeat again.   I would look at my GPS every ten minutes, or maybe it was every five minutes, and then I would look at my GPS again.  It was the only way I could stay on track.  I’ve never had to hike this way.  I’ve never had to hike looking at my GPS so often.  Normally I just follow the trail.  It’s so easy.  But when you’re in the snow, there is no trail. All you have to look at is the direction you’re going and if you get off track, you try to recalculate and move on again, over and over again.

Watermelon Snow

One of my go-to practices of finding my way through the vast expanses of snow, was to look for the blood trails.  You never know who might need to be saved at the end of a blood streak.  Have you watched that movie, Backcountry?  Before this trip I was obsessed with killer bear movies.  In the movie, Backcountry, a couple goes hiking, and while in their tent, a bear breaks in and drags off the boyfriend and eats him.  What a great movie to watch before heading out on the trail.  LOL!  Just to be clear though.  These are not actually blood trails.  The red is called Watermelon Snow.  This fascinating occurrence is caused by a species of green algae called Chlamydomonas Nivalis, as the algae becomes active and starts to bloom in the warmer weather.  The red color acts as a natural sunscreen for the algae, protecting it from the harsh UV rays of the sun.  Interesting!

Nothing but snow on the John Muir Trail.

Following blood trails. You never know who might need to be saved.

A close up view of Watermelon Snow.

Pictures never seem to show correctly, just how steep of a hill you need to climb, or just climbed. I just reached the top of this snow-covered mountain. Thankfully the suncups helped me from sliding down.

I’m Here!

I finally saw the river that I was aiming for.  It was far in the distance, but it was in view!  I was so happy and couldn’t believe I was so close.  On top of that, it was all downhill, which was a bonus.  As I reached the bottom, I could see the building that housed the restrooms for the camp and let out a shriek of excitement.  I knew the restrooms wouldn’t be open, but I was so excited to finally be here.

Looking down into the valley, I could see the river that runs near Sunrise High Sierra Camp. I’m so close!

First sight of the bathrooms at Sunrise High Sierra Camp! I almost cried with happiness!

PCT Hikers

I was taken by surprise when I looked to my left and saw a man lying there in the snow.  I don’t think he saw me because he got up and started walking back to camp, but as I got closer, a woman from the camp started walking in my direction and we said hello.  She let me know that she and a large group were hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and heading to Yosemite for a break from the snow.  The group was from all over the world and had met while hiking the PCT.  She said they had been hiking in the snow for three weeks now.  I’m not sure how they have kept their sanity for this long.  I’m sure I would’ve given up, but then again, they do have each other to help keep the group morale high and boost each other up when someone gets down.  We talked for a while and then I said goodbye so that I could go set up my camp.

Setting Up Camp

My feet were freezing by this time and I just wanted to lay down and curl up in my comfy down bed.  I found a great spot for my hammock and got it set up fairly quickly.  Tonight’s bedtime routine was completed with a quickness.  I ate my hot cooked dinner of beef stroganoff, filtered water, scarfed down my Snickers bar, took my mandatory Advil, and then started to pack up for bed.  I packed my trash away, my cook pot, my food, and went to lock up my bear can.

Dinner at Sunrise High Sierra Camp.

Where Is My Quarter???

Panic!  I reached into my pocket, but there was no quarter (that is what I lock my bear can up with).  Strange.  I thought I put it there.  I looked in my backpack shoulder strap pockets, then I looked in every pocket of my backpack.  Nothing!  I looked again and again.  Nothing!  I looked in my hammock and on the ground.  Nothing!  I decided I was going to have to use something else.  My credit card?  It started bending right away.  Damn!  I’d given up and figured I would solve this problem in the morning.  I set up my tarp and hung my backpack which was getting soaked in the snow.  Double Damn!  Then I remembered one last place.  My skirt!  I was wearing my skirt when I started cooking dinner!  I hurried to my skirt and reached in the pocket.  My quarter!!!!  Yay!  I locked up my bear can and crawled into bed.

It’s only 7:00 p.m. and there is still light in the sky, but I’m pooped.  I’m done for the day.  All I know is, I’m not going to quit… at least not today.  Good night!

The perfect spot at Sunrise High Sierra Camp. Goodnight!

Base of Clouds Rest to Sunrise High Sierra Camp

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Comments 2

  • Thomas : Jul 23rd

    Chana, you’ve got grit!! I see this is a post from about 3 weeks ago. I’m excited to read and see your posts. I so hope you kept going. Looking forward to your next week’s and entire trip. Hang tough!

    • Chana Putnam : Jul 26th

      Thanks! I can’t wait to continue on in September!


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