Beep! Beep! Beep! Don’t you just hate the sound of an alarm in the morning? It doesn’t matter what time it is, or what I have planned for the day. I just hate to be forced to get up. Today my alarm went off at 6:30. Luckily I had a great sleep last night, but I was still tired. No time to lay around and delay the inevitable though. Today is really the day! Today I start the JMT!
Without hesitation, I jump out of bed. I was sweating last night, so I need to take another shower. It’s a bummer that I got sweat on my camp shirt. I hope it doesn’t stink. With a quickness, I shower and brush my teeth. I get dressed, pack up my things, do two sweeps of the room to make sure I didn’t forget anything, and then I head out the door.
First stop is the cafe. I turn in my key and get a coffee and snack to go. While waiting I meet a man that’s hiking the PCT. He tells me that my first day will be easy and that I’ll love the trail. Great! Words of encouragement. I wish him well and he does the same for me. Backpackers are great.
Since I was able to change my bus pickup location, the walk isn’t far at all. I’m super early, so I enjoy the view of the lake while I eat my zucchini bread and drink my caramel latte. As it gets closer to pickup time, I head across the street. There are already a few hikers waiting. I talk with a man who is also hiking the JMT. He’s done it before in sections, but this will be the first time in full.
When we board the bus we meet several others. A couple is hiking the JMT and two women are hiking the PCT solo. We all chat and talk about what we’ve seen so far and what is to come. The PCT hikers mention that some of the more cliquish hikers don’t like to talk with others or will even snub you, but normally solo hikers are always eager to talk. Later I start chatting with the couple behind me. This is their second go at the JMT. Their first time she got sick and couldn’t stop vomiting. Reluctantly, they got off trail only to get no answers on why she was so sick. Frustrating indeed.
As we approached the drop off we all exited and headed on the trail in various groupings. I met up with the couple and talked on the way to get my permit, but lost them after that. Solo again. I like being solo though. I love taking in everything around me. The hiker at the cafe was right. Today is easy. It’s like a stroll in the park. What a perfect day to start on.
Grrrrrr! My tummy begins to rumble. Snack time! I take a bag of dried apricots from my bear can. Yum! I love dried apricots. They aren’t easy to eat with trekking poles, but I manage. While devouring my apricots I get taken by surprise. The couple from the bus are off to the side. I say hello and ask how their hike is going. “Not well,” she replies sadly. Her calf hurts and is just getting worse. She had mentioned it might have a strain or tear while we were on the bus. It looks like she’s going to pull off and maybe her husband will continue. They weren’t sure. I feel so bad for them. “Next year,” she says. “Third time’s the charm”. I still feel bad though and give my sympathies. If he continues on then he says maybe he’ll catch up. Then his wife can meet up at Reds Meadow. With that I head off.
Shortly after I see a mule pack company coming down the trail. I move off to the side to let them pass and ask where they are coming from. Reds Meadow they say. As they pass the woman asks if I want a burrito. “Yes! I would love one, thanks!” She hands me the burrito and they are on their way. How awesome! Trail magic on the first day. This wasn’t any ordinary burrito either. It had beef, rice, beans, sweet corn, and more! I tuck the burrito in the side of my pack and continue on.
Not much further down the way I see a deer. How lucky! This is really turning out to be a great day. Great conversations, an easy hike, trail magic, and now a deer. Can life get much better? Probably not, but that means that it can get worse.
The easy trail lasts forever… but it can’t last forever… forever. It has to end. That ending came about 2 or 3 miles before my campsite. Here is the trail I know. This is the trail that likes you to go up and up and then up even more. This trail I remember likes for you to hurt and breath hard and wish you were dead. That’s the trail I know. We’re like old friends.
I climb and climb and climb some more. I won’t lie and pretend like I work out. I don’t and this is horrible. At least every five minutes I stop to catch my breath. I can do this. I see others struggling too and it makes me feel a bit better. Not a lot, but a little.
While climbing… and don’t laugh at me; I’m just trying to be real and honest… my stomach begins to not do so well. I’m not sure if it was the huge dinner last night or the bag of apricots, but I am now surrounded by a cloud of stink, and that stink is coming from me. I don’t particularly care except when passing others. I bolt past and hope they don’t notice or at least don’t suspect me. Miles go on like this and I suspect it’s just gas; really bad gas, but then I realize it’s not. I’m so close to where I plan to camp, but tragedy is about to happen right now. I make a beeline up the hill, tuck myself behind a large downed tree and … well you know what happens. It’s tragic, or maybe magic. I instantly feel better. I feel horrible that the feeling came so quickly and there was no time for a hole, but I piled a lot of dirt on top. That’s something at least. I’m glad my kids and fiancé will probably never read this blog. Just so you know, according to them I’m magic. I don’t poop. I’m too ladylike for that. This will be our secret. LoL!
Just around the corner I come to my possible camp spot. Well really I passed my planned camp spot about a mile ago. I want to get as close to Donahue Pass as possible. Seeing that the trees are just about to end, I drop my stuff. This is the spot and it’s perfect! The Lyell Fork looks beautiful with a snow covered Donahue Pass in the background. It’s picturesque.
I set up my tent, filter water, and lay in the sun to get warm. Afterwards I decide that I’m going to go meet my neighbors. To my left is a man hiking from Mammoth to Tuolumne Meadows. To my right amazingly enough is the woman I was talking to on the bus. I didn’t recognize her in her camp clothes. We talk awhile and I meet another hiker that she knew from the PCT that’s walking by. He’s an interesting fellow wearing a colorful shirt and a multicolored tutu. You can’t miss him. I also meet a group from Montreal, and another woman hiking the PCT who sets up camp next to me. We all have dinner together and talk about the trail until the cold makes us all retire to our beds. It’s hiker midnight. Time for my snickers bar, bush my teeth, get on my pajamas, pop some Advil and go to bed. Day one complete and it was perfect!
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