I’m Late! Shit! – Day 5 on the JMT
Last night was a so-so night. You would think it would have been an amazing night since I slept in a cozy bed with a fluffy blanket and a nice warm heater with a roof over my head, but I still had trouble sleeping for some reason. I tossed and turned, switched pillows, drank lots of water, turned off the heater, opened a window, and took some Advil. Finally, I took advantage of the fact that I had electricity and WiFi by turning on the soothing sounds of “Rain White Noise – 12 Hours” via Nature’s Finest Podcast on Spotify, and fell asleep. It was pure bliss after that. Although, it might have been too much bliss I suppose. When my eyes fluttered open I thought it was early… until my phone dinged. No! I grab my phone in disbelief. Shit, I’m Late! It’s eight o’clock!
I can’t believe I slept in! I’m always on the trail by eight o’clock, yet instead, I am just now dragging myself out of bed. I hurry and get dressed, pack all of my shit up, grab my bathroom essentials, and head out the door. As I walk up to the common area I see Baldie and Jammin. Phew! At least I’m not the only late riser. Wayfinder is long gone and on the trail though. I greet the others and order my breakfast. I was going to have pancakes, but there’s no time for that. Instead, I ordered a breakfast burrito and an orange juice.
I’m about to head to the restroom to spruce myself up, but it’s being cleaned and is currently out of commission. Damn! Instead, I cruise through the grocery store. I don’t really need anything, but I grab some electrolyte tablets, a beef stick, and a PB&J sandwich (you know, the Uncrustables kind meant for kids).
A Post-Apocalyptic Moment
Today is the last day that the store will be open, and the shelves are bare. It looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic type of movie. I hope zombies don’t burst through the back door with the hopes of feasting on my brain. That may put a damper on this whole John Muir Trail hike… although I do have a very sharp neck knife hidden under my shirt, so I guess I’m ready to take on even the hungriest of undead if it comes down to it. Still, I’d much prefer chatting up friendly hikers and photographing wildlife on the trail rather than tangoing with blood-thirsty walkers.
As I navigate through the empty aisles, I can’t help but reflect on how quickly things can change in this world. Just a few days ago, this store was probably bustling with hikers, and now it’s a ghostly reminder of how fragile our daily routines can be. With my goodies in hand, I head to the cashier’s counter. The girl and I chat and laugh as I pay for my surplus of snacks that I don’t even need, but I decide to buy on impulse before she wishes me luck on the trail. “Thanks!” I say as I step out into the cool, crisp, air, ready to leave this post-apocalyptic scene behind and embrace what is to come along in this next section of my adventure.
Tying Up A Few More Things
The bathrooms are still closed, and Jammin has already given up hope for the modern comforts of a toilet, opting instead to hit the trail. I ask Baldie to flag down the waitress when she calls my name to deliver my food. “I’m going to finish packing up my things and check out of my room,” I tell him. I run back to my little cabin, toss the last of my things in my bag, and head straight back out. There’s no time to dilly-dally. Hopefully, I didn’t forget anything. I drop the key at the front desk (which is also the empty grocery store that I had just left) and get back to the picnic tables just as my food arrives.
Baldie is heading out Northbound, so we say goodbye, and I head to the bathroom to do… you know… bathroom stuff. I brush my teeth and hair, go to the restroom and I’m out. While there I noticed the other day hiker girls getting ready for their hike. They have makeup on, fresh stylish clothes, and their hair is curled and placed perfectly on their shoulders. Gah! Day hikers. I don’t hate them, but I definitely do not love them. In comparison, I feel like a slob. I realize I’ve lost my pigtail rubber bands, but luckily, I find a backup set in my backpack hip pockets. Way to think ahead Chana! I fill my water bottles, pack up my breakfast burrito for later, grab some hot tea bags from the hiker box, and head out. Gah! It’s 9 am.
Back on the trail just out of Red’s Meadow Ranch
The Longest Day Ever
Today is going to be the longest hiking day of the whole trip and I’m not looking forward to it at all. On top of that, a good portion of the hike will be uphill. Double bogie! Fast! Think fast thoughts. I head out on the trail and it’s not too bad at first. I dole out my usual good mornings to everyone I pass by and soon come across two guys heading in the opposite direction. “Is the bear still there?” they ask. I’m confused. “I didn’t see a bear,” I say. “But then again, I was lost in my thoughts,” I admit. I’m instantly bummed. I’d really like to see a bear one day. I wonder if Jammin or Wayfinder saw it? I’ll have to ask the next time I see them.
Looking every which way, hoping to see the bear, I continue on. Up ahead I see Jammin munching on a bag of chips while sitting on a log. She’s taking a snack break and asks if I saw the bear. “No!” I say. “I’m so bummed!” She shows me a video and it’s huge! That is so cool! One day I’ll see one. We talk a bit more, but I need to get going, so I say goodbye and hit the trail. I know I’m the slowest in the group, so I don’t have time to take a break so early on in the day.
Soon after I head back out on the trail, I meet two other men heading the same way as I am. We talk a bit and realize that we’re all hiking the JMT and will hit VVR on the same day. I wish them well in their hike getting there and we say goodbye, but we leapfrog a few times before they totally leave me in the dust. Jammin comes along at that time, and we talk and hike together a bit before separating once again. Alone… always eventually alone.
All Up In My Thoughts
I’m always in my thoughts when I’m alone. Who knows what I think about most of the time? Hopefully one day I come up with an amazing revelation, like solving world hunger or finding a way to accomplish world peace. Haha! Okay, not that grand, but maybe thoughts on how to solve my own life problems or deciding what adventure I want to go on after this one. Oh! I did think of a new hiking product. I can’t say what it is, but I know it would help me for sure. I’ll work on that when I get home. Update: I looked up my grand idea and it’s already out there in some form or another. Well, at least I can invest in someone else’s product. I’ll have to buy one for my next trip.
Misery Does NOT Love Company
Jammin and I leapfrog along the trail a few more times, but I am wiped out! There are way too many stairs and I’m struggling to make it to Virginia Lake where we’ve all said that we would camp for the night. I lose Jammin about 2 miles before camp and then I’m alone. I don’t mind though. I’d rather go through the tough times by myself. You know the saying “Misery loves company?” Well, that doesn’t apply to me while hiking. When I’m happy and peppy, the more people, the merrier. When I’m struggling and in agony, I’d rather ride the misery out alone at my own pace and in my own way. To each their own, I guess.
It’s a slow crawl for me those last two miles. I know I can make it, but I’m really hating life. When I see the lake glistening in the distance, it is sheer bliss, and when I find our campsite, I’m even happier. Wayfinder is already set up, and Jammin has just started staking out her enormous Durston tent. They’re talking with a man named Gregory, who points me in the direction of a perfect hammock hanging spot. Thanks, Gregory! That really saved me some time. The location is fairly close to Jammin and Wayfinder, has a little view of the lake, and is completely enclosed in a circle of trees which makes me feel like I have my own little home. It’s perfect!
I’ve Finally Arrived!
I get my hammock set up and then make my way down to the lake to filter some water since I’m completely out. As I sit on a log squeezing each bag of water into my water bottles, small droplets of rain begin to hit the lake and then my jacket. Boo! I really wanted to hang out and talk while making dinner. Thankfully the light sprinkle is short-lived, and it stops as soon as we all put on our rain jackets. Figures! The only way to stop rain is to put on all your rain gear, and the only way to possibly eliminate rain from your entire trip is to pack every piece of rain gear that you own. Those are the general ways of weather forecasting and controlling on the trail.
Myself and the girls all eat dinner and talk about life. We talk about our jobs, our pets, where we live, places we’ve been, and building out camper vans. It was a great bonding night for sure. I’m glad I met two people that I can share this experience with even though their experience is a bit more extensive since they are hiking the PCT from Mexico to Canada, while I’m only hiking a portion of it, being the JMT. Hiking solo is a fulfilling experience, but intermixing time with others who are sharing the same experience gives me the chance to talk about all the special moments, views, trials, and tribulations, that are best shared over a warm ziplock baggie of spaghetti overlooking a calm, quiet, sunset.
As the chill of the night fills the air and my toes can take no more, I wish the others a restful night and head off to slumber in my warm pillowy bed. The usual routine commences, brushing my teeth, wiping my face, getting my PJs on, and writing in my diary. It’s now almost 9 and time to catch some much-needed Z’s. The guy in the campsite next to me is snoring, but strangely enough, the familiar sound of home seems to lull me to sleep in no time at all. Until tomorrow. I can’t wait to get to Vermilion Valley Resort and see David! Good night!
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