Waking up early that fine morning at Red’s Meadow, there was an awkwardness in my mind. I got up and started to get ready to leave. I couldn’t muster the intestinal fortitude to socialize much with people, especially the girls. I knew I’d be slow for a couple days, while breaking in my boots, and with a new stash of food. Would I see these people again?
I was all caught up with the outside world. Everyone back home knew my boot story, and sent their love. The journey was ready to continue, but was I? I had to be: I wasn’t going to give up now!
I heard stories of trail love, and wanted it very badly. I’ve always wanted to find that partner that complements my awesome life. When I was younger, I wanted someone to make it awesome. Now that it is awesome, a supportive partner to come home to and adventure with sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
The girls took off, and I think I muttered an awkward goodbye, carrying on with getting ready to go. Once ready, I said goodbye to the others and made my way to explore Devil’s Postpile some more. Plus, I had to get back to the point of the JMT I left, so I didnt miss any miles!
My thoughts on the postpile are that it was better to pass by, than hike up it. Unneccessary elevation and miles! But I trudged back to the JMT, and carried on to Rainbow Falls. I met some dayhikers, exchanged pleasantries, and enjoyed the view at the top of the falls. The bottom of the falls was OK, I got to see the rainbow (couldn’t capture it on camera, though), but I could’ve saved myself some miles by staying up top!
One woman I passed had all the ultralight gear, training for a long hike the next summer. She was quite gabby, but the human contact was nice. Nearing the JMT junction, I parted ways eagerly from her, then ran across her a 1/4 mile later. Damn! I felt like an asshole. Oh well!
The next 5 or so miles were like walking through a barren desert. The Rainbow Fire had burned much of the forest in the region, leaving the trees as tall, spiky stumps. Looking back on it, however, it matched my emotional state. I was in an emotional desert. Lonely, craving companionship, and missing the socialization. My pack was heavy, my body hurt, and my mind hurt. If I pushed hard enough, though, I might catch up to the people I want to be with!
I continued, pushing up into the forested switchbacks, trudging with every step. I passed by a couple hikers, but was in the zone. Soon, I came upon a creek with illegal campsites, and the Red Cones off in the distance. They were OK, but not worth hiking up, like I planned in my itinerary. The Facebook JMT gurus were right!
After a morose hydration break, I trudged on to Deer Creek. The rushing water, purple wildflowers, and deer were pretty, but I couldn’t shake my emotions. I saw a campsite at the Deer Creek crossing, but it looked too close to the trail to be legit. So I crossed and found a spot in the meadow to camp.
As I set up my tent, got some water filtered, and settled in for the evening, I started writing in my journal. Then I started crying. I was lonelier than shit! I missed my chance with the hiker girls, and I can’t even generate attraction in an environment of like-minded individuals. What the fuck!
Later in the evening, I heard people setting up camp in the “illegal” spot. I was too out of it to introduce myself, but hoped they would reach out. They didn’t, so I had dinner and went to sleep. I knew I would trudge on, but was in a weird state that evening.
The next morning, I woke up feverishly, knowing I had a lot of elevation to gain that day. I think my goal was Purple Lake or Lake Virginia, so I planned to not eat breakfast until I reached Duck Creek.
Climbing out of the forest, I passed by multiple PCT hikers and other backpackers. The vibe was pleasant, and the view of the snow-capped mountains along 180 degrees of my periphery was beautiful. I was doing this thing! The hiking dragged on, but I kept pushing.
Later, rather than sooner, I reached Duck Creek. The water was surging, the meadow was beautiful, and there were people. Yay! I sat down to get breakfast situated, and made conversation with a couple people. The crossing looked a little sketchy, but I knew to leave my shoes on this time!
After hydration and fuel, I continued on. The rocky mountainside was beautiful! Soon, I descended to Purple Lake, and wasn’t too thrilled, but took in the view and marched on. Virginia Lake, here I come!
The excitement was there, but so was the steep climbing. Holy shit. More elevation gain? I need to get better at interpreting maps! I started cussing out whatever was listening, just about at my breaking point. But I kept walking, as slow as I needed to. This trail was breaking me down, but in a good way.
As I crested the pass to Lake Virginia, I was fuming, but knew I could at least take a lunch there. The camping looked pretty muddy, not favorable, so I started the search for a nice butt spot. Then, I saw two kids and their Dad. It was Bobby! The guy I stopped dead in his tracks back in Lyell Canyon looking for my boot. They were fishing and invited me to hang out with them, so I obliged.
The joy exuding from his sons was infectious, and soon after venting about the trail, I had forgotten the pain. It was magical looking back at it 🙂 I also got rehydrated and fueled up, which did wonders.
Let’s talk about that for a second. With hydration, I often push myself until my vision gets wavy or I get a headache. Not good! Also, with food, I eat three times a day, which makes it difficult to have a constant stream of nutrition while hiking. I make do, but often find that I burn out quicker than others. I still get the job done, but it isn’t always pleasant. Maybe I should look into pacing myself and forcing myself to take breaks!
Bobby offered me a caffeine boost as we got back on trail, and I decided to join their group. The plan was to get up to Squaw Lake that night, so VVR would be a day away. It was much further than I anticipated going, especially with the elevation loss and gain, but the companionship was worth it!
Coming down from Lake Virginia, we were flying down the switchbacks. I took a video of Bobby and his sons crossing the river bridge, and we took another break. They fished, and I relaxed. We had a thousand feet or so to gain before camping, and I was exhausted.
The cool thing, was that Bobby was exhausted, too! He had his sons charge ahead while we got to know each other, and we cheered each other on up the pass. We both understood the struggle, and kept trudging. At one point, we lost the trail and were scrambling, which freaked me out a little bit. More wasted energy, more time before we got to camp. I think the boys helped us out of that, and away we went!
Finally, we crested the bowl that was home to the lake. The peaks and passes were beautiful in the setting sun, with the outlet flowing into a beautiful water fall 🙂 At that moment, however, instinct took over and I was about to blast a hole in my pants. I kindly excused myself and waddled away to handle business.
I was irritable that night, and needed time by the water to decompress so I didn’t bitch too much about finding a campsite. I got back, finished setting up camp in a spot that Bobby and his friend helped me find, and gathered for dinner. The sunset was beautiful, the company was beautiful (though I did see women across the lake who I would’ve liked to meet), and dinner was beautiful.
Bobby’s boys were 10 and 12, and full of energy. The energy was nice to feed off of, and their humor helped me stay grateful. From alone and angry, to surrounded and tired, the day was awesome. I got more confident in my rock hopping skills, and I found love.
Thanks for reading along! Remember, take a hike and spice up your life!