We’re quickly approaching mile 900 and that means we are one third of the way to Canada. We are currently in the High Sierra and are seeing lots of folks who are walking the popular John Muir Trail. We giggle when we see them cleaning themselves in the rivers because at this point we could pretty much care less about daily showers and odors that result from that.
As a matter of fact, I’m lucky if I comb my hair a couple times a week and showering happens about once a week. My dentist would be proud that I’m keeping up with twice daily tooth brushing, but I do hit my toothbrush on a rock or a stick to get as much of the moisture out of the brush that I can before putting it back in the ziplock bag in which I carry it around. We do laundry almost every day, and by “laundry” I mean putting our socks and underwear in a ziplock bag, filling the bag with stream or lake water, no soap, then swishing our clothes around a bit in the bag. We then drain the bag and ring out the “clean” items and hang them on the back of our pack while we walk around in the woods. We try to avoid putting our pack in any dirt (ha!) when we take it off for a break. When the clothes are dry we wad them up in a tight ball and find a tiny empty space inside of our pack to shove them into.
But tomorrow is different because I’m going in to Vermillion Valley Resort where I will buy a shower, and a load of laundry, floss my teeth, comb my hair, and use a flush toilet. Yes! I am looking forward to it, but it’s weird how I don’t really miss these things very much anymore. I have been enjoying taking afternoon dips in deep blue, alpine lakes, sleeping on the ground looking up through the mesh of my tent to see a ceiling full of bright stars, wake my up to birdsong, enjoying the sunsets and sunrises, drinking fresh mountain water, and sitting down in pretty much any old patch of dirt or sand or grass or whatever and finding it comfortable.
Even though there are special moments to be thoroughly enjoyed, there are an equal number of challenges to work through. Hiking 20+ mountain miles with all our stuff on our backs every day is strenuous, but we are adapting. We hike from about 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Each area has presented different challenges- in the desert it was the lack the of water. There was one section without a reliable water source for 40 miles. Even the reliable water sources weren’t ideal as the water report, an amazing spreadsheet put together to help hikers plan on where they can get water along the trail, would say things like “has uranium in amounts higher than the household limits for drinking water” or “pools, dig a hole and use a scoop to get water” or “scummy” or my personal favorite “has a dead lizard floating on top.”
The major challenge in the Sierra’s has been the altitude- did I mention yet that we summited Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain brain in the contiguous USA at around 14,500 feet?! We have camped in a number of storms.
I’m excited to find myself nearly a third complete, but also sad because I never want it to end. I’m also in awe of Heather “Anish” Anderson who set the fastest known time on the PCT in 2013 completing the trail in about the same amount of time it’s taken me to get this far.
(Entry written on June 16, posted later due to lack of device after passing the 900 mile mark.)