Take a Trek

Day 7: Zero in Mammoth

Mammoth Lakes, CA
Day: 0 Miles
Trip: 64.8 Miles

A Zero Day is a day in which you hike zero miles. These days, usually taken in towns, are used for resting, resupplying, running errands, and enjoying a general state of laziness. When I hiked the Long Trail, I never had a need or desire to take a Zero Day. The John Muir Trail and this area of California are completely foreign to me though. Since I don’t have any significant time restraints, I’m going to spend a full day relaxing and exploring this unique Sierra Nevada town.

I’ve known that I would take a Zero Day in Mammoth, since I began my JMT hike. What I didn’t know was what I would be doing for accommodation once I got here. Fortunately, Sarah has invited me to stay at the Condo for another night. A free mountainside condo definitely trumps the eighty-dollar Super 8 Motel that I probably would have stayed in otherwise.

Mammoth

Mammoth

Sarah has also extended her hospitality to “Stealth,” a PCT hiker that she and Christine became acquainted with in Tuolumne Meadows. Stealth, in limbo about the future of his northbound thru-hike, was forced to get off the trail by an unidentified foot injury. “It started hurting about 300 miles ago,” he tells us nonchalantly, as if there’s nothing unusual about backpacking with a maimed foot for hundreds of miles. For the past week, the optimistic, bearded fellow has been hanging out in various towns near the trail, waiting and hoping for his foot to feel healthy again. He took a bus into Mammoth from Yosemite Valley last night, shortly after Sarah texted him an invitation to stay with us.

Stealth

Stealth

We spend most of the day exploring Mammoth and basking in the conveniences of society that are typically taken for granted. If you’ve ever spent six consecutive days in the backcountry, you understand how exciting modern plumbing can be. While no cat holes are dug, many cups of coffee are consumed, countless calories are devoured, and an unnecessary shower or two is taken. Sarah has a car at her disposal and willingly uses it to chauffeur our group around town. Sitting in the backseat, with a warm summer breeze blowing through the window and splashing over my face, I ponder how time seems to slow down when I’m on the trail. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime, in less than a week. It’s a sensation that I experience every time I go on a long distance hike. I share the sentiment with Christine, and she says: “nature gives time, television takes it away.” I don’t normally watch television, but I definitely spend a considerable amount of time absorbing the neon lights of digital media, making her comment a relevant one to consider. I enjoy the company of my new friends and wonder if or when I’ll see them again after tomorrow morning. Backpacking, or traveling in general, has a funny way of delivering unique and likeminded people into your life for very brief periods of time, before hastily pulling them back away and leaving you to wonder if it was all just a dream.