Hey! Here’s a link to all JMT posts for your reading pleasure . You’re welcome.
BOOM BITCHES! We posted two days in one freaking week! Take that, internets. —
It’s hard to describe what it felt like to wake up on this ‘zero day’, knowing we didn’t have to take down the tent, find a “bathroom”, or worry about how far we’d get and how long it would take. All we had to do is shower, eat, and wash clothes. Oh, and find the resupplies we’d mailed to ourselves! In short, it felt pretty fucking awesome. We were very proud of ourselves for planning this day of rest, and even more proud of ourselves that we’d actually made it here.
Our living quarters consisted of a round canvas room (a yurt) with a kitchenette and a small outhouse right near the front door. It sounds simple, and it was, but it was so luxurious. The showers were back near the main check-in area at VVR and required quarters to access. They were also timed. We’d quickly learn that the folks at VVR would nickel and dime you everywhere they possibly could – nothing outside of the room itself and the first beer upon arrival was included in the rate. A band-aid would set you back 20 cents (and ask Jennifer – blister care adds up at that place), and a regular diner-style lunch was 20 bucks. They kept a tally on paper of all of your expenses, and we’d pay the day we checked out. This was smart, because it’s easier to rack up a tab if you aren’t paying as you go.
J: I think my resupply of blister tape, 12 band-aids (yes, you paid for the individual band-aid), and antiseptic cost me about $50…ridiculous, but necessary. Those folks know how to run a business in the middle of nowhere.
The yurt was pretty awesome. It was teeny tiny, but had a real bed and that was more than enough for our tired, beat up bodies. We both slept so soundly that we didn’t even wake up to all the craziness that happened in the backpackers tent area the night before. Apparently, one of the hikers got so drunk that he stumbled/fell onto his tent (with his buddy inside asleep) and puked all over their gear. Needless to say, all the backpackers in the area woke up and were super pissed about it in the morning…especially the friend who got puked on that we met at the laundry room as he was trying to dry his $700 sleeping bag.
In the morning once we showered, we made our way to find the laundry facilities and the location of our resupply buckets. We found mine pretty easily, but Jennifer’s was buried back in the little shed the resupplies were stored in, which prompted both of us to freak out just a tad, considering her bucket held all the snacks we’d consume for the next 7 days. Two of our friends in SF, Beau and Sheena, has also sent us a care package. Even though we had to pay $20 for every package we had stored, it was well worth the extra few bucks to get a surprise from friends – it was really priceless, actually.
Once we had all of our packages in our possession and started laundry, we made our way back to the yurt and tore into it all. It was sorta like the feeling you got on Christmas day, especially if you were like me and already knew what you were getting anyway – it was just fun to open it nonetheless.
In addition to a bunch of awesome snacks (chocolate granola! more Snickers bars! miso soup! bacon jerky! potatoes that just required the addition of water!), we also had a nice letter from Beau and Sheena that was so perfectly timed, we thought they’d been spying on us. You see, Jennifer and I both knew that we’d get on each other’s nerves at some point. I mean, we were basically together nonstop and torturing our bodies along the way, so it’s not surprising that people who get along relatively well in the real world get annoyed with one another on the JMT. (Note again: for those of you planning this hike, or something similar, choose your hiking partner wisely! It can make or break this adventure!) That said, the words “stay good to each other” made us both start crying like little bitches. All in all, we’d actually gotten along pretty well up until this point, but the day away from the trail was well-timed not just from a physical standpoint, but also mentally. We just needed to refuel and regroup, and this letter reminded us of how awesome we both were, and how cool it was that we were doing this together. Then we proceeded to tear into the chocolate granola. Obvi.
J: YES, that little extra care package was just enough to make us both feel better. Like H said, we knew we’d annoy the shit out of each other at some point over stupid stuff, but we’d get over it as good friends do. A few words to make us both tear up, hug it out, and then it was all out of our system. Back to focusing on the food!
As you can see from the above picture, we had a decent amount of organizing to do that day, too. We’d been hiking long enough by this point to know what we did and didn’t want to eat any longer, as well as whether the serving sizes were the right size. So we laid it all out and tried our best to make sure that we only carried what we knew we’d eat for the next 7 days, keeping in mind that once we left VVR, we didn’t have a place to unload trash or unwanted food until we hit the end of the JMT. We ended up with a decent amount of extra food, and were able to hand some off to our buddies, and the rest went into the “free hiker bin” out front. So yeah, there was a free bin, but it generally contained old food and stuff that people didn’t want or recognize. I’m sure people appreciated our bags since they were labeled with the name of the dish, amount of water needed, and time require to rehydrate. Yes, friends, my OCD tendencies came through here, but I was totally ok with that.
The worst part about VVR is the absolute lack of cell signal throughout the property. Of course, they allowed you to buy internet in hourly increments (another $20) or for a day ($100). Total ripoff, right? Every so often, you could find a spot with service, but you had to talk fast and stay still. Using this very scientific method, we were both able to use one of our phones to talk for a few minutes at a time to Chris & Jon, and briefly to some family, but it ultimately was too frustratingly painful to do that for long. I eventually caved in and got an hour of wi-fi, and Chris and I texted back and forth for most of the hour to make sure we had everything in line for the meet-up with him (again, this was our last chance to talk to him before he met us).
J: It was unexpectedly hard for me to have almost zero contact with my husband or my family during the last 15 days of the hike. I think I needed my husband, my sisters, or my parents to give me an outsider’s opinion on my blister situation or a swift kick in the ass to encourage me to toughen up and finish this thing. It seems stupid looking back on it now, but I was mentally struggling at this point and really starting to worry about my feet making it to the end. At least there was cold beer and whiskey to ease the pain…for now.
Of course, we also spent some time with our buddies. Brittany, Courtney, and Andrew had all arrived the day before, as did we, and Cole arrived super early the morning of our free day. He had reservations and a planned zero day the following day, so now he’d found himself with an extra day! Super cool; he’d considered hiking out with us the following day (ok, maybe he considered it for 2 seconds), but he was meeting his girlfriend later on, so it just made more sense for him to chill here, because ultimately he’d get stuck hanging out somewhere if he left with our group.
When we weren’t organizing our resupply or eating, we were doing laundry. There were only 2 washers and 2 dryers, so you kinda had to hover. As a result, we spent a few hours just hanging out on the stoop outside the laundry room. It was here that I was able to teach people about the TV show, 227, because I made a joke that us hanging outside on the stoop reminded me of that show. This is also where I totally revealed my age….and knack for finding quality tv.
J: 227! I still can’t believe people didn’t catch that reference. It’s off the meat rack, or whatever NC phrases you pulled out of your back pocket hanging on the stoop! 🙂
At the end of the night, we shared some of our whisky with the group outside of their tent/room/whatever you call it (picture above). We had a couple of options regarding our exit strategy the following morning, so we took some time to figure out what we all wanted to do, and decided we’d just all do the same thing and come to an agreement. Ultimately, we chose the route that was a little bit longer, but less steep. Who knew if it would be the better option – we’d soon find out, since we were getting up pretty early the next morning, with over 150 miles to go. Zero day was quickly coming to an end!
Day 9 Details (August 2, 2015):
Start-Finish: Vermilion Valley Resort
Daily Miles: ZERO!
Mileage Tally: 101.2
Camp elevation: 8,000 ft