JMT Day 7: Fear of freezing, and a blister gone bad
JMT Day 7, August 10, 2013 Saturday
I ended up setting up the tent when the stars were starting to come out. My sleeping bag had started to get condensation on it, and my toes were freezing. I left the door flaps open so I could see shooting stars, but I only saw one, and [that was] when my glasses were off. Before setting up the tent, I spent a lot of time worrying that I was going to freeze to death, and wondering how long it would be before someone found my corpse.
I think due to the cold, and feeling guilty / like a bad backpacker for camping so close to the lake, I was quite grumpy through the morning. The hike out of Purple Lake felt really hard. I tied my still-wet bra to the outside of my pack to dry, and wore my grey shirt and the vest, free-boobing. I stopped for a long breakfast at Lake Virginia (breathtaking, one of my favorites yet), and changed into the bra before leaving. I don’t think anyone saw me naked, but they might have… I sat by a boulder in a wide meadow next to the lake shore and watched the Belden ground squirrels play & eat.
After Virginia was an easy climb down to a beautiful meadow called Tully Hole. It has a small stream snaking across it in big ox-bows, visible from way up. Really picturesque. Next came switchbacks and a big climb up to Silver Pass. I stopped for lunch partway up at a small lake called Squaw Lake, and soaked my feet. I felt that I had been slouching all day, so I made myself power up to the pass, which felt good.
At the top of Silver, I ran into Scott & Becky again — they teased me for going fast, and started talking to a father-daughter pair Alan & Alyssa. A real ultralighter with a white beard named Bruce took my picture at the pass. The four of us walked down from the pass together & chatted.
I am camped near those 3 and another solo woman named Pamela at the Mott Creek Trail Junction. Right before the junction, you go down a huge set of steep, badly maintained granite stairs & switchbacks. Oof. I got to the creek crossing to find that Alyssa had saved me a campsite! So nice. We cooked dinner together and Alyssa told me about her experience being a freelance graphic designer.
At camp tonight I popped & drained the second blister. It had gotten huge, wrapping around the front of the toe; I think it was made worse by the duct tape.
I stopped for PM snack near a creek & two blond hikers. They were from So Cal and were sharing a bowl. I saw one of the British Army officers smoking a cig, but otherwise haven’t seen any smoking on the trail.
I’ve been on the trail 7 full nights now. Some nights I wish I were home, some middays I want to stay out forever. I think I want a warmer sleeping bag/quilt for future hikes. My stove is working great, as is the Sawyer Squeeze, but I get pretty darn cold at night.
Feet: popped that blister (alcohol-wiped the area, held needle in flame before popping, gently squeezed out fluid, put antibiotic & butterfly bandaid on it), midfoot pain was less noticeable (less there?)
Body: a few small hip twinges, rather loose shit this morning, got sunburnt on my shins right above my socks, also a bit on my right outer thigh. combed my hair. had lots of mats.
- JMT miles: 12.6 today, 85.8 total
- Total miles: 12.6 today, 96.5 total
Purple Lake 9928′ → Mott Lake Trail Junction / Pocket Meadow 8960′
That right pinkie toe blister holds the prize for grossest blister ever. It was bigger than the toe it was on. The Hulk of blisters. I documented it in all its glory, for your “so glad that wasn’t mine” pleasure:
Despite the care I took to sterilize the needle and apply antibiotic, the now-open wound didn’t stay clean on the trail. I think next time I will leave it be and let it pop on its own like the left one had.
Before the hike, I had no clue how many wonderful people I would meet on the trail. Some of them I saw once, then never again. Others, like Alyssa and the Mainers, I leapfrogged with for the rest of the trail. It made hiking solo less lonely. Though I still preferred to walk mostly on my own, breaks were nicest with others, and having someone save me a campsite completely made my evening.
Some nights I wish I were home, some middays I want to stay out forever.
The nights are my least favorite part of backpacking. I toss and turn, imagine horrible things happening to me (animals eating me, freezing to death), and miss my friends and partner back home. During the day, though, it’s another story. I get to see the whole world laid out in front of me, and life has rarely felt so sublime.
On my upcoming hike, I’ll be doing my best to maximize the midday and minimize the night.
All of these pictures are so spectacular. Amazing. You’re proselytizing without knowing it! Careful, too many people will want to hike the JMT this year after seeing your pics! 😀
Aww, thanks. If the blisters pics, descriptions of unpleasant bowel movements, and talk of frozen corpses don’t scare people off, I don’t know what would!