Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 2 Lyell Creek and Valley

Today was going to be my first day.  In a way I am excited since now I can claim to have hiked the entire JMT and did in one day what most do in 2 or 3 days to get from the valley floor to Tuolomne Meadows.  I am exhausted still this morning and had a significant reality check.  Will I be able to do this?  Will my heavy pack and the long distance override the joy and love of being out here?  

I stay in bed, or rather sleeping back, ground pad and tent for a little while longer.  I take stock of all my muscles - they are all here and how they are shouting after such a hard start.  I am glad I am so strong and have been hiking forever so I know how to get through these hard days.  Slow, slow or as they say in Africa "Pole Pole".  Deliberate, slow, consistent, continuous, pauses when necessary, always in synch with my breath. One foot in front of the other will get me everywhere. Thinking about it, I started hiking in my Mum's belly (apparently I was quite a mover and shaker and she hiked everywhere with me) and have been ever since.  But this is the first time I am hiking for so long, carrying my entire life support system with me, on my own.  And I am lucky.  There are other hikers, the trail is so well marked and the weather supposedly is quite predictable. Sunny with possible thunderstorms in the afternoons - so get my butt over all those mountain passes before early afternoon.

And so I get up, get organized and have a egg and cheese biscuit at the hiker cafe.  This is the first time I experience people ordering food items with the highest possible calorie content.  I love it.  Bring on the hot chocolate with whipped cream.  I then repack my pack, stuff my bear canister, chat with fellow hikers and meet my first other woman solo hiker - she is off on the PCT going north.  I do the best I can eliminating extra and send home a few warm layers that I now know I won't need.  And off I go.

It is beautiful right away and never stops.  A wide meandering crystal clear stream in the middle of a meadow with swaying grass, thick moss and granite slopes on either sides. I meet lots of hikers

who do a few days and also fishermen.  Trout are to be had along the entire JMT and some supplement their dinners that way.  I stop often to enjoy the silence and drink in the valley.  Meadows are my absolute favorites, I could easily spend weeks here.  I see a coyote, ducks, deer and many small cute beings like chipmuncks and squirrels.  When I get to my planned campsite others have had the same idea.  I can't even contemplate sharing my first nite in the wilderness with so many others.  And so I don't even pause but continue even through I am tired.  I finally find MY spot.  On a hill, next to the stream, peaceful, sunny, quiet.  Nobody there except another tent in the distance.  

I am so tired that after I put up my tent, I crawl in and just lie there for an hour.  My muscles right underneath my diaphragm cramp up with the long days and heavy pack.  It takes me hours to relax.  Over time I learn to breath in a more relaxed and deep manner, inclenching my muscles and straightening up more.  But these first days, I hurt so much I think I have acid reflux.  

Having relaxed just a bit, I then cook my first cup of tea and am proud of working out how my new stove works.  I meander around the meadow and savor the peace and quiet.  What a privilge to be out here.  I sleep so soundly this night with my bear canister far away from the tent.

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