What is Wrong With My Toe? – Day 6 on the JMT

Sleepless  Nights

Did I sleep?  I’m not even sure.  Last night was the worst night of this trip and everything seemed to hurt.  My legs, hips… even my toe hurt.  What is wrong with my toe???  I had already taken two Advil before I went to sleep as usual, but I took two more in the middle of the night.  It didn’t help.  I listened to a Backpacker Radio episode.  Episode #144 talked about the cognitive effects of spending time in nature and hiking specifically, plus how wearing headphones could potentially negatively impact that.  Very interesting!  I’ll have to start listening to more of these.  Unfortunately, it must have been too interesting, since I didn’t fall asleep.

Now that I was back in the valley, the snow was gone and I was hot.  I stripped most of my clothes off, but it didn’t help.  Finally, I willed myself to get out of bed, went pee, moved my backpack off of my hammock hoping it would change the angle, and returned to bed.  Weird!  My body didn’t hurt anymore… and I quickly fell asleep.

My view from bed when I wake up. I love sleeping without my tarp!

I don’t love sleepless nights. I’m sure the bags under my eyes can tell you the whole story.

Time To Get Up and Get Going!

I woke up at 6:00 a.m. this morning.  I’m so exhausted.  Today was the day I was going to hike Half Dome.  I’m sure you caught on to the way I worded that… was.  I have been debating hiking Half Dome since day two on the trail.  So many things have contributed to this decision.  First off, I’m just exhausted.  This trip has really taken a lot out of me, especially with all the snow.  Second, I don’t have my permit since I forgot it in my car, so it was a gamble that they would even let me up the mountain.  Third, I’m scared of heights.  That usually doesn’t stop me, but for some reason, I was really freaking myself out about this one.  Maybe because I’m alone?  Fourth, I wasn’t sure I was even strong enough to pull myself up the ropes.  I really should train more for that… or at least train a little.  Lastly, David let me know that he is heading back out of town for work and if I don’t hurry, I’ll probably miss him.  That settles it; no Half Dome for me.

Half Dome Is Out

Since I decided not to hike Half Dome, I lay in bed for a few moments longer.  Not too long though.  I really wanted to get home.  So, for the last time, I got dressed, drug myself out of bed, had breakfast, brushed my teeth, put on my sunscreen, brushed my hair, and put on deodorant.  I packed up all my things into the bear can, packed up my hammock, changed my shoes, put on my backpack, grabbed my poles, and looked back.  A little sadness crept over me.  So strange to feel this way since I had so many problems on this trip.  I wished I didn’t have time constraints.  I wish I had all the time in the world.  I’d lay in bed longer and have a cup of coffee.  I’d sit by the river and have a snack.  It all just seems a bit rushed.  That’s too bad.

I hiked back out to the trail.  Not far down was the Half Dome junction.  I kind of felt sad as I passed it.  I’ll come back one day.  Getting home and spending time with David before he leaves is more important.  As I hiked down, I saw all the happy (and exhausted) people hiking up the trail heading to Half Dome.  One group in particular really amazed me.  The group had about five little kids with them ranging in age from about six to ten, all excited to summit Half Dome.  Wow!  What little troopers!  I’m amazed by kids that love nature.

Half Dome, in all its glory. I’ll be back to hike you another day for sure!

My Kids

I wish I had instilled that in my kids early on.  They despise hiking and camping… outside that is (an RV is fine).  They’ve always been more like their father in that regard.  They love five-star restaurants, resort vacations, big cities, and theme parks.  That doesn’t mean I don’t try though.  Last winter we explored both the large and small towns of Costa Rica.  On my birthday we camped on the coast of Montana de Oro.  During the summer of Covid, we went on a road trip, exploring the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, and hiking small manageable trails along the way.  Don’t get me wrong.  I also suck it up and throw in a few trips that cater more towards their love of cities as well.  This summer we explored my least favorite city in the world, Las Vegas.  LOL!  I’ll admit that I actually had fun.

Enjoying The Trail A Second Time

It was funny walking down the trail.  I thought it would be boring because I’d already hiked it earlier that week.  Strangely enough though, it felt like I had never been there.  Everything seemed different.  I don’t know if it was because I was going in a different direction so the view was new, or if I was so exhausted the first time, that I didn’t pay attention.  Whatever it was, it was like a new set of eyes or a new adventure.  I saw views I didn’t see before, tiny streams I didn’t remember.  I really enjoyed it.

Hello, Good Morning, and Good Luck!

As usual, with each person I passed, I greeted them with a “Hello”, or “Good Morning”.  I love to see their smiles.  Too often these days we ignore others around us.  Too often we don’t realize the impact of a smile, a “Hello”, or a “Good luck!”  Little acknowledgments like these can change a person’s day, even if only for a moment.  I stood and enjoyed the views and took a few pictures.  It was nice not going uphill for a change.  Instead, I was on a nice leisurely walk.

Up ahead I reached my halfway point, Nevada Falls.  This was the perfect spot to sit, have a snack, and enjoy the view.  Although I had already enjoyed this location less than a week ago, I opted to sit on the opposite side of the falls, so it was like a whole new perspective.  A man next to me asked if the John Muir Trail was open going to Yosemite Valley and I said yes.  The section from Nevada Falls is open till the Clark Point Junction, then you would have to take the Mist Trail the rest of the way.  That’s what the ranger told me anyways.  “Thank God,” he said.  He was happy to not have to tackle the long staircase back down, and I agreed.

The bridge over Nevada Falls. So rare to find a time when nobody is crossing over in the summer.

The bridge over Nevada Falls

Cobblestone paths and creeks so perfect that you feel like you are at Disneyland.

Can the trail look any more perfect? It’s like little elves clean it in the middle of the night.

Oh, The Misery Of Stairs!

With that, I finished my snack and headed down the John Muir Trail.  It was so pretty, like something out of a fairytale.  Moss-covered rocks, little waterfalls, cobblestone walkways and stairs, a large tree with a hole in the middle; the light casting just perfectly.  Then a couple walked by and said the trail was closed.  What?  The ranger said I could get to Clark Point Junction and cut over to the Mist Trail.  They shrugged and I hoped they were wrong.  I had to see for myself.  Yes, I am stubborn.

Not more than 100 feet further down the trail, sure enough, it was closed.  Boo!!!  Why???  I hate stairs!  I must have heard the ranger wrong.  It must have been this section that was closed, and the section from Clark Point to Happy Isles that was open.  Yet another reason to curse myself for forgetting my permit and the little map the ranger gave me.

Oh, The Misery!

Reluctantly, I turned around.  I guess I will get to descend the never-ending stairs that go for miles and miles… again.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be though.  I might have been a bit slow, but I didn’t want to lose my balance with my hefty backpack and fall down, down, down, like Alice in Wonderland.  The stairs seemed to last forever and it was hard with how narrow they were.

Now that I was in Yosemite Valley, I was back in the Disneyland of hiking, and I didn’t want to hit anyone with my backpack.  I felt like the oddball in the bunch.  I’m the dirty hiker with a big ass backpack, a huge bear can on top, and a smell that lingers.  In contrast, all the rest of the people around me were day hikers, looking cute and peppy with their tiny packs and picnic lunches.  Oh, how I hate you all.  LOL!  Ok, not really… ok, just a little.

I Don’t Have My Permit, Mr. Ranger

Further down the trail, I came to what looked like another backpacker with a large backpack and a bear can.  Yes!  My type of people.  He asked me if I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, and I said no, I was hiking the John Muir Trail.  I asked him where he was headed and we chatted a bit… before he slapped me with the question.  “Do you have your permit?”  Uhhhhh…  I was confused… and then I looked at him closer.  Doh!  How did I not notice that he was a ranger?  “So…. here’s the thing,” I say.  “I forgot my permit in my car.”  I did have my ID and hoped he could just call someone or look it up and he said he could.  Thank God!  I felt dumb.  He just let me know that next time I should take a picture of it.  We talked a long while after that about the trail and this crazy year, and then I continued on.

The last part of the trail seemed to go on forever.  You know that feeling when you are so close to the end and a mile feels like ten miles?  Well, that’s where I was at.  Down, down, down.  People, people, people.  Mist, and lots of it!  At least the cool mist was nice.  OK, one last embarrassing story before I sign off until September.  It’s actually kind of mortifying that I’m allowed to hike at all.

Double rainbow over Vernal Falls

The stairs of the Mist Trail. Believe it or not, I took this photo when there was a break in the crowd. Normally it’s back to back people up the stairs.

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

So, I was walking down the Mist Trail; tons of people everywhere.  For the last five days, I had been hiking alone.  There was not a person in sight, and now there were a million.  Believe me when I say that my mind was not all there.  Well, I was walking down the stairs and had my sun hoodie up over my head.  I found it to be blocking my view while maneuvering through the crowd, so I decided to push my hood back.  Not thinking about the many other people around me, I lifted my arms to push my hoodie back… with my trekking poles in my hands!!!  I didn’t even realize what I had done until a woman gasped because she was almost speared in the eye by my trekking pole.  I was mortified by my stupidity and still am.  Luckily, she didn’t lose an eye and I profusely apologized.  I will for sure never do that again!

With that as the conclusion to my trip, I tried to book it out of there as fast as I could.  Shortly, I was back at the trailhead of Happy Isles and my first section was over.  Reading back, it may look like tragedy after tragedy, but really there were memories after memories.  I’m glad I got to experience such an amazing time out on the JMT and I can’t wait to head back out to finish the trail in September.

First section of the JMT is complete!!!!

Vernal Falls in the background

Pizza And Beer!

This trip has one last stop though.  Once back in Yosemite Valley, I took the relaxing walk back to Camp Curry, headed straight to the Pizza Deck, and ordered myself a small pizza with everything on it and a nice cold glass of beer.  Heaven!  It was pure heaven!  I even invited a family to come to sit with me since they had nowhere else to sit… which gave me someone to talk about my trip with.  LOL!  Afterward, I headed to the tram to get back to my car… which was packed so full that faces were smashed against the windows.  Interesting indeed!  That’s one way to deal with the crowds.

Till next time!  September 12th is the day!  I still have so much to do before then.  New gear, resupply boxes, will my friend make the trek with me?  I guess we will see.  Next week I’ll post my gear video.  I’ll talk about what worked, what didn’t, and what I plan to change for September.  Click here to see what I brought on the trail.  Thanks for reading!

The ultimate reward after backpacking for several days; pizza and beer!

Be prepared to sqeaze in on the Yosemite trams.

What Is Wrong With My Toe???

Geez!  How could I forget the toe?  So… my toe continued to hurt even after the trip.  At first, I thought maybe my toenail was digging into my other toe, but that didn’t make sense.  My toenails were short.  Then I thought that maybe I just got a scratch that I couldn’t see.  Well, this went on for a week or two.  Off and on my toe would hurt.  Then it started to change color.  I guess I really bruised it.  Well, I slapped some nail polish on it and called it a day.  It still hurt periodically though.  One day I just figured enough is enough.  What is wrong with my toe???  I took a closer look and realized that my nail was no longer really attached to my toe.  The base of the nail was, but the rest was detached.  That was the pain.  It kept pulling at the skin.  Well, I cut off the whole nail and it’s better now.  Who needs nails anyways?  I think they are overrated.  I can just paint my toe.  Problem solved!

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?