As much as it was a blast, being on the John Muir Trail (JMT) for 17 days was a challenge.
Let me begin with this photo.
@dhimmel took this on our second day when we just reached Subdome. I tried to smile for the camera, but my legs felt heavy, and I was falling slightly behind. That morning, attempting to catch sunrise at the top, we woke up at 4:30 to start our hike. About 15 minutes in, Daniel handed me a spinach+cheese+salami wrap that I could barely swallowed because of the hard breathing while going uphill. I should mention that normally I would have inhaled the wrap in seconds. Assembled from Marissa & Diego's wedding's leftovers, these wraps were one of the best meals we had on the trail.
Thank you, M&D!
Back on the trail, half asleep, I followed Daniel in the dark for a while until a junction where I was able to stuff my 15-lb backpack in a bush before continuing to climb up.
On Subdome, convinced that we were close to the top, I was psyched to see the cables (and the moon!):
Yes! Those are people trying to pull themselves up the almost vertical slippery cliff. My hands are currently sweating just typing up the story. To me though, this was more exciting than most (I inherited my mom's risk inclination) so I happily accepted the challenge (see pic) and sprinted to the top of Half Dome.
Okay! Now, multiply all that insanity and exhaustion by 15 more days, plus some harsh weather + PMS + a rash, you should be impressed I only cried a few times on the trail. Oh and I should mention that Half Dome was not even on the JMT. It was one of our side trip.
I don't want to repeat a cliché, but it is incredible how the difficulty on the hike makes one appreciate the little simple things in life that have always been taken for granted.
Every morning, I was grateful for the sun to come out and warm up my fingers as well as my frigid coffee. Every morning, I tormented Daniel with this repetitive tune when I saw the first ray of sunshine while hiking:
Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun, and I say
It's all right
I was grateful for food - any food that is not a dry protein bar. That said, I would like to dedicate my accomplishment of completing the JMT to Probar and Lärabar. Thank you for adding real fruits in your bars!
I was grateful for the people we met on the trail, especially who shared with us their food. (Okay I'm kidding - I'm working hard on a whole other post People of the JMT to be published on the Steem blockchain soon!)
I was grateful for the occasional outhouse/bathrooms we have on the trail and we didn't have to use our minimal defecation system. Such as this one at Crabtree Meadows:
I was grateful for my body and how tough it was. At the end of each day, my heels would hurt so much I could barely walk around campsite. At the Muir Trail Ranch resupply point, Daniel had to put a needle through his blister, and I got a rash after digging through the hiker box (buckets). The rash was on both of my hands and continued to itch three days after.
I was grateful for my amazing companion. Daniel makes everything seems somehow manageable. One of the most memorable moments was the afternoon we tried to reach the ferry that took us to a resort when it rained cats and dogs. At first, I was thrilled - it was the first real rain we saw since we started on the trail. However, the light rain quickly turned into a thunderstorm and hailstorm. After walking/running for a while in the rain, we decided to stop and wait it out. We were under a tree with suboptimal protection when I started to get cold due to the lack of proper rain gear. Daniel resourcefully suggested I put the butt pad on my back to keep warm, and fortunately it worked. Our tree quickly got saturated and pushed us out in the rain/hail. Despite being exhausted and cold, with Daniel commentating, I couldn't stop laughing.
The walk turned into a hilarious and ecstatic broadcast of a water trekking competition. Daniel's exultant commentary pushed me to go fast and keep my temperature up.
Very good technical!!!
@dhimmel shouted when I chose to step on a small rock on the side to avoid the fast stream.
After successfully avoiding many, our Olympian has finally stepped into a fools pool.
@dhimmel disappointedly announced when I mistakenly identified a mud puddle as solid ground.
Happy ending for the day: We reached the ferry landing, a kind gentleman lent me a poncho for the ferry ride, and the resort warmly welcomed us with complimentary drying of our clothes and scrumptious steak.
Besides the thunderstorm, the mountains could be hard on you with the heat and the cold at the same time. This is a rare photo of me not smiling - after the long Muir Pass, my feet were hot, I was exhausted, cold, thirsty while feeling a terrible need to discharge (as you can see - no trees, and no soft ground for digging).
And there was one day when it was so windy the tent was going to break, so we cowboy camped (no tent). It was undoubtedly cold and windy, but at least we got to marvel at the Milky Way and woke up to a beautiful sunrise.
I saw this answer to a random question What things actually made your life easier? on Quora the other day:
Being fortunate enough to have all the necessities provided to me. We, 21st century self absorbed jerks, don’t value the presence of electricity, Wi-Fi, opportunities, food, Wikipedia, family, and a roof over our heads that doesn’t leak. We think it’s automatically given. Well, it’s fucking not. Life doesn’t owe you a thing.
Well, I guess I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to go on this thruhike and realized how fortunate I am to have running water at home and hot coffee at work.
The universe doesn't owe me a thing.