Tuesday, August 13
Start: Purple Lake (9935′)
End: Bear Creek crossing (9575′)
Elevation gain: 6942′
I can’t believe I’ve made it through day 5. It was a close one; I woke up at 5:15am in a terrible mood, convinced that I wanted to quit. I packed up in an hour, despite being very cranky, and pushed onward, and made it to the top of Silver Pass (10,900′), passing by Lake Virginia, having convinced myself that I would quit at VVR. I ended up chatting with two men at the summit, and they were very encouraging and pointed out how fast I’ve been going so far.
On the relentlessly long, sunny downhill walk, I managed to get my brain in a better place, so that when I came to the VVR turn (7900′), I kept on going. I slowly chugged uphill to get to Bear Ridge, hopping from one shady spot to the next, huffing and puffing but feeling decent about it. The deciduous trees on the ridge made me feel more at home. My lungs seem to be slowly adjusting, and I’ve started taking Mucinex and that seems to be helping.
After reaching the summit of Bear Ridge (9880′), I began the slow descent. Within a few miles, I was almost to my destination, and I ran into Zakiah, another JMT SOBO thru-hiker and we hit it off. We decided to hike together to our campsite and she was planning on going an additional 2-3 miles beyond what I’d planned. But I had made a friend and having a camping buddy sounded great. We had good chats as we hiked and then set up camp and ate dinner together. It was altogether a very serendipitous meeting, as we were both struggling and feeling lonely.
I feel like perhaps I’ve turned the corner; I feel like I have better trail legs and trail lungs, and after looking at today’s miles and elevation gain, I can do anything!