8th September 2019
Virginia Lake – Reds Meadow.
15.7 miles
Total miles: 180

I slept so badly. My tent was on a bit of a slope, so I could only sleep on one side otherwise I would roll, and it was also sloping down a bit towards my head end so I tried to prop up my mat with my jacket as best I could. Sleeping on one side all night was making my hip really sore, and I couldn’t sleep on my back because my heels hurt against the mat. I realised halfway through the nights that my hip was probably hurting because I had too much air in my mat, so I let a bit out and in the morning I was almost touching the ground. I dribbled excessively and my buff pillowcase was damp. I was trying to make sure my sleeping bag zip was underneath me all the time as when it isn’t it creates a cold spot. It was also bloody freezing. 

I had made a hot water bottle and it was nice while that lasted but after that my toes became cold and I tried to lay my puffy coat over my sleeping bag but it just kept sliding off. I ended up with it over my head. 

When wake up time came I was not keen on getting out of my sleeping bag. I sat upright and liquid oozed from my eyelids as a result of the excessive crying episode of yesterday. I am surprised there is any water left in my body at all with all the tears, snot, dribble and eye ooze. But I did wake up really needing a wee, I needed one for a few hours which didn’t help my restless sleep situation, but there was no way I was getting out of the tent. 

I put my gloves on and took a look over at Catwater. She wasn’t keen on getting out of her sleeping bag either, although she had been up for a wee about 5 times in the night! I managed to pack up everything to the point where I could no longer stay in my sleeping bag. I felt really dehydrated in the night but now my water was just too cold to drink. 


I mashed together a breakfast of mini cookies and a peanut butter wrap, we got going with our little uphill hopefully to warm us up. I stowed my poles under my arm and shoved my gloved hands into my pockets. Even hiking uphill wasn’t warming me up. It was cold everywhere and the cold air was drying out my mouth and hurting my lungs. 


Wherever we would have camped last night would have been cold, everyone we passed this morning was just trying to keep warm, several comments were made about how cold it was. We passed one lady who was such a bad ass. She had camped in a bit of a watery grassy area and she had ice on her tent this morning, she walked with a stoop and had a big backpack on. She must have been at least 80, no exaggeration. I wish we had been able to stop and talk to her more but we all needed to keep moving to stave off the cold. We seemed to take ages to get to sun and when we did it was glorious. We stripped off some of the layers but the problem was as soon as we got into the shade again it got really cold. My solution was to just walk faster to keep warm. It was a little uppy downy to begin with but nothing too strenuous. When Catwater stopped to wee I carried on, intending to stop at the next water source. 


I didn’t plan the water very well, the three water drops on the map at the top of the hill were all dry stream beds. This was a bad situation now because I had finished my water and there was about another 6 miles before I could get any more. It was all downhill now so I put the burners on and got up to my PCT pace of 3 miles an hour. I was still only just staying warm, and my body temperature was very much controlled as to whether I was in the sun or not. 

I passed loads of people coming up, most weren’t that keen on hiking uphill, I felt for them a bit because it’s a long slog uphill that way. I passed some PCT southbounders, but mostly I would say they were JMTers. I was trying not to look too directly at people because my face was a mess. My eyelids had disappeared completely. 


I finally made it to the stream and filled my water. I waited about half an hour for Catwater to catch up and then we carried on together for the next 5 miles downhill to Reds Meadow, where there was the promise of a burger and a soda. The downhill became pretty relentless, I was so ready to be done. Beyond ready. My legs and knees were screaming at me to stop. They didn’t want to carry on, or at least they were crying for a break from the downhill. And the lower we got the hotter it became. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky which has made a change from the last few days. 

We kept passing these bushes with spiky berries and later found out they are gooseberries. We went through the old 1996 burn area which is weirdly beautiful and then finally we found the junction to Reds Meadow. It’s a half mile side trail and they don’t make it easy. It was thick sand and a difficult slog but we made it and went straight to the store. 


A really good cheeseburger and two dr peppers later I was feeling better. Catwater decided to take a shower, I didn’t bother, I only had one two days ago and I didn’t think I’ve actually sweated that much (that’s a lie, yesterday I sweated my way up all those switchbacks) and she also washed all her clothes again, I only did that two days ago so I just threw in my socks, my dribbled on buff and my snotty bandana into her wash. 

We had all afternoon to relax before Catwater’s friends Noreen was coming to meet us, to camp with us and bring us dinner. So we sat outside the shower and laundry block, and where the charging station was, and we spent a good couple of hours chatting to a couple of Canadian guys who were so nice, and we had a great chilled afternoon full of diverse conversation. 

I walked over to the campground to check out the hiker boxes. There was an Austrian girl there who was loving the hiker boxes (I later found out her trail name was Hiker Box) but all that was in there were homemade packages of questionable substances so I left empty handed. 


Eventually our Canadian friends had to leave, there were hiking south and wanted to get a few more miles in. As the sun began to go down it got chilly so I layered up in my puffy and jacket and my fleece hat with my visor over the top and my sunglasses rested on top. It’s a strong look. Such a strong look that a couple of girls recognised me and they said they saw me on Whitney. The said they recognised my coat and visor. I mean how could you forget this look. 


We had a chat with them for a while and they are hiking the JMT north too which was cool because we haven’t met many people moving north. Hannah and Caitlyn I think they said their names are. Hopefully we will see them down the trail. 

Then Noreen arrived and we bundled into her car with Walker the dog, beautiful black Labrador who got over excited and punched me in the mouth. We drove down to the campground at Reds Meadow and set up our tents. It was already an hour past dinner time so we were a little thrown off schedule. But Noreen had picked up pizza on her way and got Twix bars especially for me and beer for Catwater. 


We had pizza and salad and grapes and it was delicious. We were also able to take some bagels and cheese and an avocado, and I packed up the leftover pizza to have for my dinner tomorrow.