Sometimes the littlest things cause the largest issues. Today a toe did just that.
We had woken up late (7.36am to be exact) and broke camp in a luxuriously leisurely fashion. I did sun salutations, brushed my teeth, ate delicious raisin and walnut and date oatmeal with my sleeping quilt still around me, and packed everything with a sense of ease. The morning was crisp with a lazy sun, staying late in the mountains far beyond us.
We started climbing nearly as soon as we started walking — we had only three miles to the top of Glen Pass, one of the most feared passes in the area for its steep decent after the brutal climb.
Before making it to the top, we were stopped by a ranger for our permits. After happily obliging (and being disappointed when he didn’t check our bear cans that we have been carrying so diligently all these miles!) another hiker came up.
He started chatting with us, and Dash told him about her thru hike and her travels on the Appalachian Trail. He was so impressed he had to shake her hand (much like that dreadful uncle in Great Expectations).
“Good job, little girl,” he gayly said as he shook.
We waited for him to disappear along the trail before bursting out in laughter. “Little girl” was a first for both of us! It became our tagline.
We finally made it to the other side of the pass (“Good job, little girl!” We exclaimed), marveling at the sweet glacial lake with its milky blue hue. We stopped for lunch and were soon joined by two JMT-ers, fearful of the tall pass that faced them. We joked and shared lunch and snack tips as I devoured my chicken roast ramen (with extra rich flavor, as the packet claimed).
We didn’t make it much further, once we packed up from lunch. I was out of water and there was a deliriously dainty steam, all covered in tiny pink and purple wild flowers. It tripped and rolled over rocks, clearer than any stream I have ever come across. We sat in the grass, me chugging half a liter, Dash refilling bottles, and enjoyed the warm (not hot) sun.
Not even half a mile later, Rainbow Dash fell, lodging her big toe between two rocks and coming down hard.
“Help me,” Dash said, and I frantically undid her pack straps and stuck trekking poles.
It wasn’t alright.
Her toe was hurt, bad. She couldn’t walk on it, couldn’t put her pack on, couldn’t touch it without tearing up. I was really worried. Although I don’t know anything about medical issues, something as silly as a badly sprained ankle can be a hike ender.
We were at least a day and two passes from civilization, and not even by a water source to help reduce any swelling.
I sat by her side for a little while, until it became clear that it wasn’t getting better. We had to move to a campsite, and maybe even find water. I rushed ahead, luckily finding a tiny spot two tenths of a mile up the trail. She hobbled and I grabbed the bags.
After a few hours of rest and elevation and Icy Hot (love that stuff!), we met Dash’s friend from the Appalachian Trail, who happened to be an EMT.
“There really isn’t anything to be done,” she said, confirming our thoughts.
It was rest and elevation, the worst things out here.
We rested and rested. Finally, deep into a conversation with another thru hiker, two guys from the Fellowship (a group of guys who read Lord of the Rings out loud to each other nightly, despite these two not knowing it was a trilogy, weirdly enough) came back up to us without packs.
They were there to help.
“The trail provides,” one said.
“You’d do the same for us,” said the other.
And so up went Dash, lurching along slowly, and away went her pack (they had Rock Paper Scissors-ed to decide the lucky carrier). We ended up only .23 down the trail, at a lovely little outlet of a massive, deep blue lake all settled at the bottom of stunning granite mountains. It was the perfect place.
Dash’s toe is feeling a bit better, and we are hopeful we’ll totter along toward Canada when the sun wakes us tomorrow.
For now, I’ll be hiding from the mosquitoes and reading a memoir.