Life on the trail falls into certain routines, and when you're with others there is a tacit understanding of the various rituals. By Thursday I had figured out a hiking pace that didn't complete debilitate me. A byproduct of the exertion was my complete disinterest in eating or drinking much after noon. Stephanie attributed some of that to electrolyte imbalance, which made a certain amount of sense.
The ritual that seemed to be working had to do with electrolyte replenishment. After breakfast I'd have one SaltStick tablet. This contained about 10% of the daily salt requirement, and some other salts to match perspiration electrolyte losses, and some vitamin D3. This was enough to cause me to start drinking water in quantity, like 2 to 3 liters.
On the trail I'd sip water, usually about 1 liter by mid-day, usually I'd take another salt tablet at noon, with some water, and eat a very little bit. After that I'd usually not drink much water until we stopped for the day.
Eating on the trail mostly consisted of sucking on Jolly Ranchers, about 33 Cals. per candy, and I'd take 5 or 6. The food choices for the trail and for lunches really didn't appeal to me so far.
When we'd stop I'd have the GU Recovery drink, which had a similar amount of electrolytes as well as sugars designed to replace muscle glycogen stores, some proteins and some vitamins all "designed" to help the muscles recover quickly. In my experience this worked, my muscles never seemed sore from the exertion. The salts in the recovery drink also caused me to drink a lot, aiding in the rehydration. The last bit of the ritual was taking 800 mg. of Ibuprofen.
We'd been out long enough that this seemed to be working. And the incremental decrease in food weight was also helpful.
The crowded situation at Rosalie Lake had us moving fast to pack our kit and get out on the trail, and we were off before most everyone else. The climb up to Gladys Lake was one last trip to 9,700' feet before a very long descent into Devil's Postpile. Passing that lake in the morning had me wishing we pushed just a bit more yesterday.
The descent was fast, the morning would be spent walking through some incredible places. By 11am we had made the boundary between the National Monument and the National Forest
Stephanie's ankle was a bit sore from the quick downhill pace. We headed off down the trail for another hour coming first to the ranger station. There we filled up with water, dumped trash and used the restrooms.
We made an inadvertent side trip and saw the "postpiles" which was somewhat underwhelming, considering the country we had been moving through these last few days.
Another mile and a half we were at Red's Meadow Resort, on time for lunch. The area outside of the general store collects all the hikers on the trail, the scene is a backwoods counterpart to the Star Wars Cantina, though all the denizens are human. We struck up a conversation with an older guy who had come over from Mammoth to meet up with his wife for a day hike. He had hiked the JMT previously and that started a long discussion of places remembered.
It was a welcome break and the first civilization in 3 days. We had started to recognize fellow hikers and made subtle acknowledgements of each other, which would later turn into the requisites for friendship. After eating some fruit, and drinking a Coke, we shouldered our packs and started of.
The area immediately south of Red's is a forest that was completely wasted by a November 2011 storm. The associated wind event fell thousands of trees in the Sierra including many along this stretch of the trail. The Inyo National Forest issued a report stating the estimated wind gust speeds on Mammoth Mountain were 180 mph. The patch of downed trees is about a mile across and two miles long.
This made for a very warm hike before heading up the hill to our destination, Deer Creek, compounded by the relative absence of water long this stretch of trail.
We got to a very nice creek just short of Deer Creek and decided to stay. We shared the spot with two women hikers who were together. We were learning that the "named" camping spots were very crowded this year. We got in early enough to do laundry. Stephanie had the smarts to bring a "bucket" and we could fetch water and wash in the bucket without feeling like we were polluting the beautiful creek.
Another benefit of our spot was cell phone coverage. We called Debbie and discussed possible early exits, my slow pace and now Stephanie's ankle suggested that we might not make our goal.
The day's progress was pretty good, 14 miles with 2,600' of elevation gained and 2,700' lost. We seemed to be adjusting to the trail. All the chores completed, we were in bed as the Sun set.
The day 5 kml file.
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