Last night the wind was horrible. All together we maybe got 4 hours of sleep. The alarm went off and 4:30 and I turned it off. No early start this morning, I don't even care. Eventually we got up around 6:30 broke camp and started hiking by 7. We were passed by Why Not and his wife Balance and chatted with them briefly about the windy night.
We followed the crest of the mountain around and down toward Joshua Tree Spring. The government says there is a high level of uranium in the water at this spring and that it is not safe for consumption. According to the water report, a liaison for the Bureau of Land Management says the spring is not fit for consumption over a long period of time but a little won't hurt you. We didn't really care about the warning and know that most of the water sources in the Sierra contain uranium and also that most of the sources we've consumed water from this far on the trail haven't even been tested for such things. Is it still bad for you if you don't know it's in there? We came to the junction for the spring and Why Not, Balance and a couple other hikers I didn't get a chance to meet were sitting in the shade. We started to head down and they told us about the warning and Why Not actually offered us a liter and a half of his own water! I was so touched by the gesture and happy I didn't have to hike an extra half mile out of my way. The group left and Josh and I decided to have second breakfast there before climbing out of the canyon and down into another. We ate summer sausage and Romano cheese on a bagel and it was wonderful. After we ate we commence climbing up a steep slope and crossed the 1/4 sign. We've now officially hiked 25% of the trail.
The trail dropped into another canyon and followed the crest of the mountain to our next water source. As we neared the source I could hear hikers behind me. I tried to pick up the pace since we were so close to stopping but eventually gave up. I was huffing and puffing trying to hike at their pace and they were chatting like they were at a coffee shop. I hate being slow and cardiovascularly inferior. Sigh.
At the creek we tried to find a place to sit that didn't have ants and ate a snack while filtering and cameling up. We planned to hike to the next water source which was about 12 miles away. We had a big climb to do and really only packed out enough to get us to the next water. The day was heating up and we climbed, and climbed, and climbed. When we were finally near the top we sat again to take a break and talked about the trail. Josh was having a hard time and we talked about quitting.
"I miss my family." I said
"I miss doing something fun, and having options." He replied
"What do you mean options?" I asked
He replied, "You know, like being thirsty and being able to go to 7-11, or being hot and having the option to go inside and get cool, stuff like that."
"Well, what would you do if you weren't on the trail? Go back to work?" I asked
He pondered quietly for a moment and said, "I wouldn't go back to work until the date I said I was going to go back. I'd go to Hawaii and chill for a few months. Eat pineapple and roasted pig, spend a night or two in a fancy hotel and get a massage and the rest of the time camping or something. I dunno. I'd like to wake up and not have to bust ass everyday."
I stewed on that for a minute. I tried to play the tape thru and imagine us in Hawaii. It was wonderful and then I got to the part where we come back home...and everything is the same. I told Josh I feel like I stay out here so I don't have to go back home because I don't know how to deal with it yet. Something has to change for me. I am not unhappy but I am bored. I feel like if I were to quit the trail, even if I went on another adventure, I would return and repeat the same life over and over like I've been doing. I feel like I need an emotional shake down. I need to tear myself down on the inside so I can figure out what to do with my life on the outside. I didn't start the trail with this intention, I just thought is be a cool trip but now it seems to be taking on a new purpose. Yesterday I was ready to quit and Josh wasn't and today Josh was ready to quit and I'm not. While I know Josh wanting to quit is really due to being over tired from our crappy nights sleep, I hope we continue to alternate having The Fuck-its so we stay on the trail.
We packed up and headed back out in the hot day. It was 4:30 and still blazing. The gnats were driving me insane and I vow to keep my head net handy from here on out. We put in 3 more miles before Josh sat in the dirt and proverbially cried uncle. We pitched a little bit further down the trail and called it a night. Tomorrow we will try again to get up early and push further toward Kennedy Meadows. We can't quit just before the Sierra, that would be stupid.
Right now it's 8:45 and I realize we've pitched the tent on an ant hill, which is marvelous. I am exhausted but my mind won't stop thinking about the next section. Will I be able to deal with the elevation? Will I be able to traverse the snow? If I'm breathing heavy now going up these hills what does that mean up there? What if I get HAPE or AMS? The highest I've ever been is 12k and had a raging headache and nausea. Are there lizards in the Sierra? If not, will miss the lizards. Are there ants I the Sierra? I hope not. I'm tired of sitting in ants. So many questions....I'll just have to go see for myself.
Until tomorrow, goodnight.