Garnet Lake

Lunch at Garnet Lake- Trail Reality vs. Trail Fantasy

Day 22: On the Way to Thousand Island Lakes,  Lunch at Garnet Lake

It’s a good thing I’m not Bill Murray and it’s not February 2 because if I had to do today over again I’d fling myself into the sharp crevices of the gorge between Olaine and Shadow Lakes.  What a ridiculously tough day. It’s not that the trail was particularly demanding or the hiking was even that tough. I just felt DONE. I’m sick of climbing. Sick of slogging downhill. Sick of boring flat trails. Sick of walking. Sick of carrying 40lbs on my back and sick answering, “NO, I am NOT like Cheryl Fucking Strayed!

Happy to be back on the JMT after my night at Olaine Lake

I’m feeling drained today; both physically and emotionally. I’m blaming physical on all the crappy processed food I ate at Red’s yesterday and maybe a bit of general fatigue, closing in on 200 miles. I’m tired. All the iconic peaks, passes, meadows, canyons and lakes are behind me and all that’s left is the in gentle path in front of me, leading me closer and closer to the end of this adventure that began 7 months ago as a dream.

The adventure has become my reality for the past 22 days and like any dream realized, there are ups and downs to it. The daily grind of hiking miles upon miles, up mountains, down gorges, through canyons and valleys, over scree and Sasquatch boulders has worn down my naive enthusiasm.  The dream is all adventure and awe inspiring moments. The doing it is The Reality; the fun AND the pain.

As I get closer to Yosemite, the end of the trail, the end of a dream, I’m filled with relief, sadness and pride (not necessarily in that order). As I walk these past several days,  I realize that is what I’m walking toward: the End. And the fear that I’ve missed something. The dream wants you to believe that every second of every day should be filled with awe, excitement, adventure.  The reality is it’s uncomfortable, painful, achy, mind-numbing, cold, hungry, weak AND amazing and awe inspiring and beautiful and overwhelmingly life-altering beyond words.

I hike 8-10 hours a day with 42 pounds on my back, breathing air polluted with wildfire smoke. It’s hard work.  I think I’m feeling disappointed in myself for not loving every single moment I’m out here. Because I know it will be over way too soon.

If it was easy, everyone would do it.

I guess what I’m saying is it has become routine. I wake up, pack up, hike, set up, eat, and sleep. Repeat

And not every day is filled with inspiration and green meadows with frolicking bunnies and deer. It’s fucking hard!

Day 22: SPENT!

But now, as I sit on the grassy shore of Garnet Lake, watching the sun dance off the wavelets as the wind gusts across the frigid Alpen pool, the granite peaks with two small patches of snow framing the set as perfectly as only Mother Nature can do, I enjoy the painfully perfect moment and breathe deeply, inhaling all the gifts of the trail. I am one with Nature. I am one with the Trail.

.. and then the wind gets TOO gusty and now I’m cold and annoyed. LOL

Ok, time to hit the trail. On to Thousand Island lakes for the night!!  The last of the iconic trail stops!

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17 comments on “Lunch at Garnet Lake- Trail Reality vs. Trail Fantasy”

  1. Dear Carolyn,
    I found your blog last week and just devoured every post! Your writing is genuine, raw and inspirational! You have an absolute gift for writing! I am so looking forward to your next post! You have inspired me to reach for my JMT goal! Many thanks!! Rhonda

  2. I’ve hiked the JMT 4 times. Your description of the moment at Garnet Lake was poignant and emotional. It put me back on the trail for a moment. Thank you.

  3. Just watched your January 2017 vlog – BRAVO! Good for you! Have you done others after that one? You seem to have disappeared….and we miss you!

  4. Hi Carolyn, I love reading your blog. I’ve backpacked about 75% of the JMT on different outings over about 20 years. Your analysis of good and bad is refreshingly honest. Backpacking in the Sierras can be heaven and hell all on the same day. The food is rarely good, just to sustain and pack energy. I plan to backpack the JMT N to S the next year or two. I’m ditching my Osprey Aether 85. Instead, I’m going old school with a Camp Trails Wilderness external frame pack. I can carry a heavier load more comfortably IMO. You’re writing is highly entertaining and inspiring. You’re just awesome. Thank You.

    1. Thank you Charles I appreciate your comment and love that you’re enjoying the blog. I read what I wrote now and it seems hard to believe it was that hard, because all I remember is how it changed my life!! :-09

  5. So glad to see another post about this journey. With all the vlogging you do (which I appreciate as well) I was afraid you’d not “get back to the trail.” So, thank you! Happy trails whether walking or driving!

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