The start of this day was probably the low point of the trail up to now. I didn’t sleep well, was starting to obsess about my blisters and pack size, and the leaking out of my 2 liter water reservoir was starting to bug me. The blisters were on the sides of my toes, which I have never had blisters there, so I was unsure of how to exactly treat them. For the bladder, I decided to forgo using it while hiking and got a 1 liter bottled water at the Reds store to use in conjunction with my 1 liter Vapur bottle while hiking. This ended up working out well.
rI was able to surprise Ann with one last Face Time session once I reached the Red Cones area a few miles out of Reds (which was not a fun hike given the fire damage near Reds). This was good for we knew it would be at least 8 days before I would next be able to talk to her (it ended up being 10). Otherwise, the rest of the hike was fairly bland, hiking a lot of uphill out of Reds and going through a very dry 5-mile stretch at one point. There ended up being some decent vistas across the Cascade Valley during the last few miles to Purple Lake, but really not a banner day on the JMT.
It was during hiking this day that I decided I was going to take the near-zero day at Vermillion Valley Resort. The biggest factors were:
- The recommendations I repeatedly heard from other hikers.
- The feeling that my body needed a break, especially given the blisters and how slow I was going up the inclines.
- The fact that I had two extra days to play with in my schedule.
- The VVR water taxi was running due to the healthy winter snowfall.
I figured I could take the last taxi to VVR and then the last taxi the next day back to the trail and only eat into one of my two extra days. Once I made my mind up, my attitude picked up.
Once I arrived at Purple Lake, finding a campsite was not a problem, but finding a good campsite was. There was a big blowdown in 2011 that impacted quite a bit of the trail, and Purple Lake was affected a bunch. The lake is beautiful, however it was going to be difficult and time consuming to find a spot that leveraged the beauty like I had at Garnet Lake. I settled for a spot not far from the trail with close access to a rushing creek for water, but with no views of the lake. I took this opportunity to soak my feet in the freezing water as long as I could stand it (a practice I continued through the rest of the hike) and rinse out some clothes.