R&R at VVR – Day 7 on the JMT
Zero day! There will be no hiking for this girl today! The only plans I have involve a whole lot of R&R at VVR. This morning I woke up around 6:30, but got out of bed around 7:00 so I could get dressed and say goodbye to Wayfinder and Jammin. Today they have their sights set on Bishop, and from there they will decide if they’re going to continue on or end their journey. It sounds like Wayfinder is leaning toward ending and Jammin might continue on. I wish them well with whatever they decide and exchange Instagram accounts so we can keep in touch. Good luck girls!
After their shuttle heads off I make my way over to raid the hiker boxes. I’m looking for shower supplies, but all I can find is soap. I guess that’s something at least. I also grab some AquaMira water filtration bottles since I don’t have a backup filtration system, and some sunscreen so I can hang out in the sun for the day. Score! I don’t think I need anything else though. David’s bringing all the rest of my resupply when he drives up here. That’s assuming that I don’t decide to get off trail for a week for Nancy’s (David’s mom) memorial service. I’m still conflicted on that. I know she would rather I continue on this journey, and David says he could go either way or maybe even prefers that I don’t go, but I worry that he’ll need a hand to hold during this difficult time. He just doesn’t know it yet. We’ll talk about it more when he arrives.
In the store I purchase some shampoo, conditioner, a razor, and a shower token, then head over to eat breakfast. A pancake and coffee sound good to me. The “pancake” ended up being two huge pancakes that overflowed off of the edges of the plate! OMG! I’m not that hungry, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try. The cafe is adorable and has a cozy vibe. On one end is an old-school kettle of coffee and syrup keeping warm over a wood-burning stove. In the other corner is a television and water dispenser. Tables and booths fill the room with an open kitchen where the chef is cooking up delicious smells that waft throughout the cafe. Hip music fills the air and everyone is friendly. I talk with the two JMT men a bit (they’re now going to be a day ahead of me), and I also talk with a couple that is also hiking the JMT… for the second time this year! The cafe clears out and I mosey on back to my yurt. Surprisingly, I ate most of those two enormous pancakes.
Rest and Relaxation
In my room, I relax a bit and write in my journal since I failed to write anything yesterday. It’s good to not be on my feet. The backs of my knees are still a bit swollen and really need a rest. Why am I inside though? I’m at this beautiful lake and should be enjoying it. With that, I grab my puffy jacket, and puffy pants, throw on some socks and sandals (yes, I’m that cool), and head out to my own private lounge area overlooking the lake. This is so nice and peaceful! Unlike the hordes of people crawling all over Pinecrest Lake or Shaver Lake, where we usually spend our cabin relaxation time, this lake is calm and quiet with not a person to be seen. Granted it’s the off-season, but being that it’s not very easy to reach, I would guess that even in the busy season it is still a chill place to relax. This is definitely more my speed.
Once I’m done writing in my journal, I head inside to prep for my shower and laundry session. This will be glorious! Ok, I just had a shower two days ago. I guess it’s not glorious, but I’m sure David will appreciate the effort when he arrives. I head back to the store with my bag of toiletries and laundry to purchase a laundry pod and then hit the showers.
Get That Stink Off
It’s nice that the showers include a toilet and sink. I can get everything done in one spot. Eight minutes? Can I shower that fast? Well, I guess we’re going to find out. The key is in the prep. I hang my towel and washcloth on the wall. The shampoo and conditioner, I set on the floor, while the bag of soap that I poached from the hiker box gets hung on the shower handle for easy access. To save time I shave my underarms and bikini area at the sink, then head over for my shower. As soon as I pop in the coin to get it started I run over to the shower. Gah! The water takes a while to get hot, so I lose a little time, but it finally gets going and I make a mad dash to wash my hair and body. I doubt I’ll have time to shave my legs, but I can do that in the sink in my room. Next door I hear someone get in the shower. My water instantly decreases to almost nothing and gets cold. No! You’re taking my shower time! Oh well, I got the basics done.
The Two-Blade Razor Massacre
After my shower, I pack all my things back up into my mesh mosquito headnet and head over to the laundry room. This place is awesome! Under the folding table are buckets of clothes to rummage through so you can wear something while doing your laundry. It takes a while, but I find a green-striped racerback tank top and a pair of relaxed gray hiking pants. Perfect! Unfortunately, the washers are both taken up for the next 45 minutes, so I head back to my room to shave my legs and change into the borrowed clothes. Once I’m done shaving I look down at my now smooth legs. Let’s just say that the razor I bought was no high-end five-blade razor. If you had seen me afterwards you would have thought I was a victim of a brutal murder scene. Well, at least I’m not a Sasquatch anymore.
Grasshopper Feedings & Laundry
Once I finish shaving and changing my clothes, I head back to the laundry room. There are now only five minutes left until the washer is done, so I hang out on the bench outside the door soaking up the warmth of the sun. While sitting there I notice a little black grasshopper on the rocks next to a very tiny cluster of grass. With nothing else to do, I watch him intently. He would grab each tiny blade of grass with his front legs (or arms… however you think of it), and quickly munch down the blade of grass to the very bottom. If he lost his grasp, he would grab it again and continue eating. He did this several times until the man coming to remove his clothes from the washer walked by. Then he hopped away.
The man apologizes for my having to wait, but I tell him about the grasshopper’s feeding session I had just witnessed, and he thinks it is fascinating. Like myself, he had never seen a grasshopper eat before. Once he removes his clothes, the washer is all mine. I throw my clothes in and then go to soak up a few more rays by the lake for 30 minutes while they wash. I love the sun! Especially when I’m enjoying it in a beautiful place like this.
A Quiet Lunch
Thirty minutes fly by quickly and I cruise by the laundry room to transfer my clothes to the dryer and head back to the cafe for lunch. A grilled cheese with fruit sounds delicious. While ordering, the cashier informs me that she had received several messages from my friends and family looking for me the night before. Oh my gosh! I let her how embarrassed I am that everyone was making such a fuss over not knowing where I was. “They worry a lot because I backpack solo,” I say. She says her family is the same way and her mom almost called SAR (search and rescue) on her. We laugh about it, but also feel loved about how much others care. I’m now checking my Garmin like crazy to make sure it’s working so history doesn’t repeat itself.
Can I Call Myself Grasshopper?
The cafe is pretty cleared out except for those who work here. The next batch of hikers won’t arrive until around five tonight when the ferry comes in. The cook calls my name and I realize it is the same man that was doing his laundry. “I got my laundry done and said goodbye to the grasshopper,” I say. We both laugh and I cozy up in the booth next back patio door with my food. I should call myself Grasshopper. Is it okay to give yourself a trail name? I don’t see why not. I’m a solo backpacker, so getting a name from someone else is probably going to be slim to none. No, I guess I don’t need a trail name, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget that grasshopper. I wish I had my phone and got a picture or video of him. You’ll just have to take my word for it. He was pretty amazing.
I take my time eating my lunch. David won’t be here for quite a while, and what else am I going to do? I people-watch and listen to their conversations. I write in my journal because I don’t want to forget a single moment. One of the men who works here offers me a fresh plum from a batch he was given from another person’s garden. It is delicious! Then I clean up my space so I can head back to my room.
On my way out I grab two books from the hiker bookshelf. One is called “Night Sky – A Field Guide To The Constellations”, by Jonathan Poppele, and the other is called “Number The Stars,” by Lois Lowry. Funny that they both have the topic of “stars”, but one is about constellations and the other is about a Jewish girl during the time of the Nazis in 1943. Should be interesting reading while I wait.
David is Here!
And… I didn’t get to read either book. David pulled up as soon as I cracked open the first book. Not that I’m sad about it. I jump out of bed to see him. It’s been a while since we have seen each other since he was working in San Diego and I was heading out on the trail. As soon as he exits the truck, I give him a big hug and he smells great!
Unloading Luggage & Stories
First things first. We unload everything from his truck including my resupply should I decide to continue on. Roxie, his dog, also came to visit and she’s super excited to smell all the new smells of the campground. David loves the cute little yurt, but not how warm I’ve kept it. I admit that I have kept the place quite warm… after all, I am “Always Cold”. After unloading everything, we walk down to the lake and I talk nonstop about the trip and this awesome place. I’m sure he wishes he had a mute button, but he just listens and smiles as Roxie splashes in the water.
Once Roxie has had her fill of water and running around, we head over to the store so David can open his own tab for the resort and I can pick up a pair of earplugs to combat his snoring tonight. I may have slept well last night with snoring across the way, but it’s a whole other beast when the snoring is right next to you.
Dinner & A Fight
Dinner at the cafe is off their standard menu tonight. I get the chicken strips and David orders the burger. Roxie sits quietly next to the table, receiving attention from others as the dinner crowd rolls in. We chat about the trail, his work, and the upcoming memorial for his mom. It’s settled. I’m pulling off the trail and I’ll come back in a week. It’s sad to miss such a large section of the JMT, but I would much rather support David during this difficult time and come back to the trail next year.
We finish our dinner and start to lead Roxie out of the outdoor cafe, but while exiting, she gets in a scuffle with a poodle. Gah! How embarrassing. Roxie is so huge, and to see her pick a fight with a tiny poodle is sad. We take her back to the room so she can’t get in trouble. While heading back we take a detour so I can complete the tour of the property. These are the showers, here is the laundry room, these are the yurts that collapsed last winter, and these are the hiker boxes where you can find items that other hikers left for others to take for free. I’m all about free and I’m all about giving. I love this concept!
Settling In For The Night
While at the yurt we get everything set for the night. Roxie needs water and dinner, we get in our pajamas, and I write in my journal while David uses the restroom. Speaking of which… has anyone solved the mystery of why men spend so much time in the restroom? I’m more of an in-and-out type of girl, while he’s the type that needs to order takeout Chinese food to be delivered midway through the strenuous event just to build up his strength. Men! No worries though. It gives me time to write in my journal.
Just before calling it a night, we head outside to stargaze. Being ex-military, he has a set of night vision goggles and we take turns wearing them so that we can check out the star-drenched sky. What’s really amazing is that I can see clearly that two different campsites just across the lake have large campfires that are flickering on the trees. Without the night goggles, I can barely see them at all. Amazing!
As I crawl into bed, I realize that this is it. Tomorrow I will be heading back home; back to civilization, my bed, and a nice warm shower. This isn’t goodbye forever though. I’ll be back in a week to finish the end of the trail from Onion Valley to Mt Whitney. Next year, I’ll fill in the section I’m skipping from VVR to Onion Valley. Nope, this is not goodbye. I’ll be back soon!
The next day I head to the cafe for one last breakfast. It’s a bittersweet feeling. I’m sad to leave the JMT after planning this for so long, but I know it’s the right thing to do and I’ll be back after the funeral. This is not goodbye forever. In the store, I buy a large wall map of the JMT and close out my tab. At the yurt, David and I pack up everything into the truck and take one last walk on the lake. I’ll miss this place. While David closes out his tab I weigh my pack. I always seem to forget to get a full-pack weigh-out. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m forgetful, or if I just don’t want to know. Either way, I know now. With two days of food, my pack weighs 25 pounds. Not bad! With that, we load up and head down the hill back home. Goodbye JMT! I’ll be back. Hopefully next year I can finish this section that I’ll be skipping. When I come back I’ll be dropped off in Independence where I would have been on that date. It’ll be an easy spot to rejoin the JMT and an easy spot to finish off my section next year.
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