Marmots, Laughter, Crystal Lakes, and Tears


The next day, my second day on the trail since I felt well enough to hike again, I overdid it. There were 20 miles until Tuolomne Meadows campground, and I should have split these in half, but I did all 20 in one day, and then the two extra miles of side trails to get to the campground. My body had gotten soft in town. My calves were not as strong as they used to be, my feet were no longer callused. I didn’t get any blisters, but hot spots, terribly annoying hot spots everywhere. In some places, the skin split from the rubbing of my shoes and socks against my foot (I’d been wearing sandals with bare feet beneath while in town). My feet felt awful. When I got to 15 miles, I knew I should stop. My feet felt raw, my not-yet-fully-healed tailbone was throbbing, and my previously injured Achilles had begun sending me warning signals (a slight tugging and electrical current-like buzzing that occurs in my foot occasionally whenever I overwork it after my injury). But there was only rock to camp on, no flat grass or soil, and no one was camping at this location. I had promised my worried mother that during the part of the PCT where bear cans are required, I’d camp with others, and I wanted to keep that promise. So I pushed on.

There were 4 miles of PCT ahead of me where camping was not allowed, and then two more miles of side trails leading to a public campground. That meant that, exhausted or not, in pain or not, I had 6 more miles to go. I limped during the last mile, stumbled into camp with burning muscles, and fell into my tent with aching bones. I felt 96 years old, like the lady I took care of of when I was a caregiver. I tried to lift up my hips to pull my sleeping bag up, and couldn’t, until maybe the 6th attempt. The lady in my care used to have difficulty doing that. I’d overdone it. My body needed babying right now, being recently injured and still healing. I also hadn’t hiked like this in a while. I should have stopped hiking and camped anywhere, even alone.

But, in the morning, all was well. It’s astonishing how well a body could recover in one night’s worth of sleep, especially a restless and mostly sleepless night. I had to hitchhike back to Mammoth that day to have the cracked screen on my phone fixed (again), and my body seized the opportunity to heal up some more since I wasn’t hiking. I had an amazing day, but I will share about that in my next blog post. This post is about day two, and besides overworking my out-of-practice body, many other things had happened.


First off, day two consisted of scenery even more beautiful than day one. There were endless crystal lakes, and snow (but not too much; not as difficult to traverse over as Forester–not by a long shot!), and green meadows, and cute little marmots everywhere! I discovered that these little guys love human urine! I’d been told by a fellow hiker named Focus that they gathered below the rocks he was urinating on and caught the stream of urine as it trickled down, and I found this to be so bizarre that I didn’t know if I believed it. But then, when I needed to take an energizing snack break on an uphill ridge, where there was nowhere to get off trail to pee, while no one was around, I peed on the side of the trail over some rocks, and marmots ran over there as soon as I was done and began licking the rocks and digging underneath them in order to find more (video here). It was very strange (is it the salt they like?) but amusing to watch.

Necktie was behind me most of the day (I had packed up and left camp earlier), but caught up in the evening. In the meantime, I thought I’d have some fun and embarrass him a little. This part of the Pacific Crest Trail was merged with the John Muir Trail, and there were many southbound JMT-ers that day who passed me as I was going north (I counted about 200 in one day!). I decided to send messages with them back to Necktie, messages that were intentionally silly and sometimes absolutely ridiculous and would make both the messenger and Necktie laugh when he received them. I had them pass on funny things like, “Catch up, cutiepie!” and “Keep up, sweetcheeks!” and “Hurry up, honeybuns!” and it worked. When he caught up, he was as embarrassed as I’d hoped. Each JMT-er that headed toward him made him think, “Oh no, what this time?” (although I passed on only about 10 messages, not 200, haha) and when they recognized his appearance by the way I described him (“guy in a knee-length white tunic with a red tie and guitar sticking out of his backpack” was pretty easy to spot) and giggled, or shouted, “I have a message for you!” he braced himself and awaited another goofy personal note from a complete stranger. I had a lot of fun doing this, as did everyone else it seemed, at the expense of poor Necktie, though he was greatly amused. It made the grueling up-and-downs of day two more bearable, and we all had a good laugh about it at the end of the day.

I then crawled into my tent with hurting bones and a weakness so overpowering that I felt I was sinking, and cried.

About elinatravels

I’m Elina Oliferovskiy, a Russian-born 27-year-old restless soul who’s never really found a place to dig her roots in deep ever since I moved to the United States in 1998. I move every year or two, backpack for months at a time, and occasionally live and travel in a motorhome--and I (usually) love every minute of my (somewhat) nomadic lifestyle. Feel free to follow along on my journey by reading my blog!
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4 Responses to Marmots, Laughter, Crystal Lakes, and Tears

  1. Pingback: My In-Town Adventures (Post Injury) | Elina Travels

  2. Pingback: Being Mistaken for the Hungry and Homeless | Elina Travels

  3. Jenny says:

    Your posting is abuolstely on the point!


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