John Muir Trail

11:08 p.m. on June 7, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hey fellow Trailspacers... After considerable thought, I have decided to make the most of current circumstances which allow me the time to do something I have wished I could do, but thought I'd never have the chance. I've made the decision to hike the John Muir Trail (JMT, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Muir_Trail). Woo Hoo! :--D

I need some time to do some training hikes, and for other preparations, so I'm targeting a start date sometime in July. Typical trip times seem to range from 2 to 4 weeks, with 2-3 being most common. I'm not interested in a foot race, so I expect to be at the higher end of that range.

I'll be evaluating some new gear in the short term... possibly finally replacing my 35 yr old Kelty pack, probably find a lighter stove, maybe some new trail shoes, etc. Thank goodness for Trailspace, the outdoor gear community for good advice :).

I've got some trepidation about the required permit, since at this point the only option is a walk-up permit. I don't think most people decide to do this on such short notice :). But I'm told it is doable. I'll be hitting it at the peak of the season. :-|

I am super excited about this! In every account I've read, JMT thru hikers have said the hike was a life changing experience. As I'm in the midst of a life transition of my own, I expect this trip to be just the ticket.

I'll keep you posted as the planning progresses :).

12:23 a.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

I am excited for you too! These types of adventures ARE life changing and such a good time to get inside ourselves when we are most vulnerable....OUT THERE! Bill, this is great news and I celebrate it with you and look forward to all the fun pictures reports, prep-posts and all!

8:01 a.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
25 forum posts

Dont forget the camera batteries. Oh yeah, dont forget the camera either. We always forget one of them.

220 miles,4 weeks,,,, very happy for you.

9:23 a.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
118 forum posts

I agree, there are times when an adventure is just the thing you need.  I'm envious, too.  I've never done a sho'nuf way-outback trip for that long, so, if the trip turns out to be the full four weeks, how do you plan to get resupplied for food and fuel, etc.?  I'll look forward to learning from your posts here, and can't wait to see the pictures of that beautiful place.

10:30 a.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Depending on your direction of travel, we may cross paths.  I plan to spend a week base camping and climbing along the Ritter Range sometime in August. The JMT passes right by, just East of this escarpment.  If you sight a old dude in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts, see if he answers to my name, especially if he is shouldering a big, red, old school, Kelty external frame pack.

Ed

11:28 a.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Thanks for the support everyone!

@giftofgab, your enthusiasm is infectious, thanks! :).  I'm really looking forward to this and expect it will help me on many levels.  I'll keep you posted :).

@gandrimp, for sure about the camera & batteries... in fact that's something I need to research, to ensure I can maintain battery power for my DSLR for the duration...  hoping to take my Nikon D5100, though may need to forego the tripod in the interest of weight reduction.

@Bunion, there are several re-supply points along the way - though I heard one (Reds Meadow) is closed due to clean-up efforts involving a major blow-down this past winter.  The last supply point (Muir Trail Ranch) is at about the halfway point.  So that last stretch, unless I arrange for a long side trip into a town, will be the toughest to pack for.  Lots of (fast) people seem to complete the whole trip in 2 weeks.  Many more seem to do three weeks, and some take 4.  Given that I'd rather not side-trip into town, I'm targeting 3 weeks... but I'll work this out as I plan in more detail.

@Ed, I'll be going SoBo, starting at Happy Isles.  I'll keep you posted once I know the actual dates.  I'll be figuring out my training & prep plan over the next couple days.  But I may pass through that area in late July...

9:34 p.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

Bill: I took two fully charged batteries and a charger for my DSLR Canon 60D. AMAZINGLY the first battery lasted the entire trip. The camera was not always in a warm spot either....often just next to my bag outside of it at night. AND the battery lated another month after my return.

9:48 p.m. on June 8, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Thanks Gifto.  My Nikon D5100 seems to get about 250 shots per charge.  I haven't even used this camera backpacking yet.  I bought it after my D70 got smashed against the rocks on my last trip in Sept/Oct.  

I'll be taking some warm-up (training) trips soon so I'll give it a real-world test & see how it does.  But I expect about 250 pix per charge.  I typically take about ~500 pics over a typical backpacking weekend.

So for 20+ days that's a lot of batteries... I only have 3 of them today (so that would be 6 days). 

I guess it's pretty clear I need to find a charging system, but I need to investigate to see if there is one to charge this specific type of battery.

9:29 a.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

Do you have a solar charging system at all? Glad to send you mine. I did not use it and am not really familiar with how it all works...but happy to send it!

10:08 a.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

If you have the time take a leisurely approach to the hike.  There are so many wonderful places to see just a 1/2 day hike away.  The trail is just put there as an access to so much hidden away wealth.

Having expended the energy and time to be there, it would be a shame not to pick up some side trips, some lakes (for example nearing the end, Wallace Lakes are seldom visited), a few peak tops (Mt Tyndall is a day hike away from just over Forester), and a traverse along the top of a pass for a side jaunt.

Best of luck on permits.  If it doesn't work out , bank the days and plan 2013.

1:13 p.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts

Congratulations, bheiser1, on a decision you will not regret.  "Life-changing" is exactly the right term.

I'd like to suggest you take a look at the ebook "Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail."  At 130 pages, with lots of photos, illustrations, maps and tables, it's a pretty good buy for seven bucks.

It also discusses how to get a permit without a reservation.  One thing you should know: if you're hiking solo you'll need only one quota, and that is definitely doable, as long as you don't mind waiting outside the Wilderness Center for a few hours.  (OK, maybe more than a few.)

Regardless, as questions pop up, send them my way. 

Good hiking, Ray

Ray Rippel
Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail

jmtbook DOT com

3:56 p.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,296 forum posts

Bill,

Take a look at your PMs. I also have a solution for your battery recharge question. Depending on the timing, I might be able to loan you my solar panel (recharges the Nikon batteries in 2 hours from dead out, same time as plugging into the wall).

6:14 p.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Gifto, OGBO, PM's sent! :)

@speacock, I like your idea of allowing time for side trips.  I just made the "go" decision yesterday so I'm just getting started on the planning.  I've been thinking 3 weeks, but could stretch it out longer - just need to figure out appropriate food resupplies, though, if I do, or carrying enough food would be prohibitively bulky and heavy.

@Ray, I'll check out your book, thanks for the comments and the tips about the permit!

3:26 p.m. on June 10, 2012 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

I started my JMT hike with a walk up permit.  I booked 2 nights in Curry Village.  Arriving in the Valley about 4pm Saturday afternoon I checked in and found my way over to the backcountry office.  There I had 2 choices.  There were "no show" permits still available and I could have left that night for Little Yosemite Valley, or I could stick with my plan, be at the BCO when it opened and grab a "next day" permit.  I stuck with my plan.

I arrived at the BCO at ~4am Sunday, was the 1st in line.  I had been told that in mid July folk started lining up at 2am.  By the time the office opened, there were a total of 20 people milling about.  I ended up with my first choice, and permit to start on Monday and hike past Little Yosemite Valley.

After getting the permit, I moved my car up to Tuolumne, and then caught the bus back to the Valley were I stayed the night again in Curry Village.  Started hiking at 4am Monday morning.

As to gear, if the old Kelty is in good shape, and rides comfortably there is no need to make this your first gear swap.  I saw 6 people out hiking with Kelty frame packs all ranging from 30-40 years old.  I was surprised to see so many old packs providing good service.

I do on the other hand recommend you focus on your gear list, and work to keep your pack baseweight less than 20lbs.  I accomplished this with a lightweight sleeping bag, lightweight stove, carrying only extra socks for change of clothes, repackaging all liquids into 2oz or smaller containers, repackaging food into ziplocs, etc.  You can toss a change of clothes in your resupply and send the old ones to the trash or ship back home.  Can also replenish batteries, liquids, stove fuel (purchase this at your resupply point), toilet paper, etc. 

The biggest gripe I heard people make was they carried too much stuff and that includes food.

You can resupply at Tuolumne (so only need carry a couple days food uphill from the Valley), at Reds Meadow (maybe 3 days out of Tuolumne) at VVR, and again at MTR.  These are all convenient to the trail, and for the 1st 1/2 of your hike you'll never need more than 4-5 days of food (<10lbs).  So with a less than 20lbs base weight you can keep your pack less than 30lbs.

Beyond MTR resupply is a bit more challenging.  Most convenient is Parchers Resort at South Lake, and then though they don't like you to do this in one of the bear boxes at Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass.  (I once dayhiked a resupply to Bullfrog Lake to avoid the out and back).  Alternately you can arrange for a packer to bring you a food drop (LeConte Canyon, or the JMT/Charlotte Lake Jct are popular for this), or you can carry a big load of food for the 2nd half of your hike. 

For "comfort" stops along the way you can rent cabins or possibly just buy a shower at Reds Meadown, VVR, MTR, and at Parchers Resort.

Final recommendation, foot wear.  Keep you pack weight down and you will do well with trail runners, or lightweight hiking shoes.  The trail is always well traveled and maintained; hiking boots are not necessary.

The JMT is a great hike.  Enjoy the planning, and most of all take what time you have to thoroughly enjoy "God's Country".

11:11 p.m. on June 10, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

WOW...that is some good info! Hope it helps! Makes me want to plan a long slog like this someday!

2:34 p.m. on June 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Steve T, thanks for sharing your insights, they're very helpful.  The part about your actual experience with permit acquisition is particularly useful.  I've seen lots of accounts from people on "how the system works", but very little in terms of, "this is what actually worked for me". 

You're right about the pack.  I don't need to replace it just because it's an external frame, or just because it's old.  However I am concerned as to its durability (the pack, not the frame) at this point.  Last year I gave it a good washing as it had gotten filthy.  While washing it, the material delaminated, and I also noticed several areas where the seams are coming apart.  I realize seam faults can be repaired;  however I'm getting worried now that the material itself may be fatigued (and UV damaged) from age.  I could probably send it in to Kelty for reconditioning (most likely attaching a new bag to the frame).  Or I can try a new pack, and maybe in the process shave a couple pounds off my load.

My other big concern right now is battery power for my GPS/SPOT, and for my camera.  A couple people have generously offered potential loans of chargers.  But the charger + the required cables will be over 2 lbs alone.  Another option will be to buy more batteries and send them in to my resupply drops - but that's expensive.  I'm still noodling on this.

You're one of several who've suggested taking my time to enjoy the trip.  I fully agree with this sentiment.  While I have nothing against the marathon "do the trail in 3 days" people, that's definitely not the approach for me.  I originally planned on 3 weeks, but I am contemplating a 4 week trip to give me time to take photos, stop & dip in creeks (if I convince myself that I can wash off the bug juice & sunscreen well enough first), or just sit and soak up the view.  In fact I will factor in several "zero days" for side trips and/or just enjoying areas I particularly like.

I keep finding myself saying, "I can't believe I'm actually doing this".  But my first task is to start BELIEVING it :-D.

2:41 p.m. on June 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Woo Hoo!  My Tom Harrison John Muir Trail Map-Pack just arrived! I'm doing this! :D

3:33 p.m. on June 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

YES....yes you are!!!!!

1:20 a.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

I know the "drill" with an old Kelty external.  Mine prematurely aged when I moved to Phoenix after college.  I had the pack in the garage, unused for a couple years.  When I decided it was past time to start backpacking again every thread on the thing was rot.

I've also seen packs fall apart on the trail...so if your pack has seen the better days and you decide to take it, make sure you are practiced in the diamond hitch!

A good option for chargers is to plan a resupply at VVR.  Include them in your resupply and recharge there when you stay the night.  Then mail them home for $10 in a USPS box. 

VVR is easily the friendliest layover along the JMT.  It has a restaurant with decent food, beer, showers, beer, wash machines, beer, a backpackers tent with cots, and did I mention beer?  You might also be able to score a room.  They sleep up to 4 so make a few friends and the cost is reasonable.

I did my hike in 13 days, but I had just a 2 week vacation window to fit within.  More time would have been better.  I don't think I'd have cut back on my daily distances, I would however stayed 2 (and maybe even 3) nights at some spots and made some side trips...Bench Lake, Arrow Peak, Center Basin all come to mind.

My trip report is here:  http://vennacher.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/john-muir-trail-2009/  I recommend you start making notes now of the simple joy and excitement you are starting to feel. 

 

9:05 a.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

Steve T is right. Start noting your feelings. Perhaps even blog about it...even if the entries are not what you want to publish yet. I suggest Wordpress  for blogging. IT is a great blog with great tools. But these feelings will not always remain and capturing them is PRICELESS! I started blogging with my prep hikes from day one and it is a thrill to go back and see what I was doing and feeling then.

4:50 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

@Steve T - I just followed the link to your blog - I recognized it :).  I'd actually run across it before and have been reading thru.  I'm still not thru all the entries, but definitely will finish.  You did an excellent job of documenting your trip - and it's very helpful, thanks!  And great photos, too ... they make me want to be out there right now!

I've been kind of on the fence about whether I want to stop at VVR.  Since it's so close to MTR, it seemed to make more sense from a logistics standpoint to just skip VVR and go directly to MTR to re-supply.  Then there's the waiting for the boat, and having to come back on the boat (I have read accounts from those who've bypassed the boat back, and the climb up Bear Ridge ... but I'm taking a purist approach to this trip & intend to hike the whole trail from beginning to end).  I'll even backtrack on the spur trail to MTR rather than taking the shortcut :).  Anyway, regarding VVR ... in addition to the side trip, it's apparently an expensive proposition for most people... and it's a place with roads & cars - it almost makes me feel like I'm cheating a bit if I'm not staying on the trail the whole time :).  But I'm still thinking about this...

@Giftofgab, you're probably right, the blog, even if only for this trip, is a good idea.  I've already been thinking about how I'll document the actual trip.  When I spent a summer in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at age 17, I kept copious journals of daily events, my feelings, etc.  Honestly I haven't looked at them in years (they're in storage somewhere now).  But I bet I'll go back and read them someday.  These days blogging is better because it enables sharing with the world for anyone who's interested.  I'm contemplating using my iPhone for journaling while on the trail (then I can upload the entries to a blog after my return).  One more device to charge... though probably worth it (On three different trips last summer, I had camera failures rendering my DSLRs inoperative ... it was only the trusty iPhone that enabled me to get photos after that... not great, but better than nothing!).

OK, "create a blog" ... another item for the to-do list :).

5:43 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

With Wordpress, they have an iPhone app and I blogged on it some in the Himalayas. Not that you are doing this trip to be tied to technology. But I found that it was no different than having a book to write in and in some spots I could even upload the entries. I got a lot of feedback from people reading it in real time about how much fun it was for them to BE ON THE TRIP with me. Glad I did it.

6:02 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Yeah, it actually would be cool to be able to do that.  There's little to no cell coverage, though, in most of the Sierra.  I've "heard" that there is coverage on certain peaks - but that's not where I'll be.

OTOH, what I can do, if I decide I can deal with the battery issue, is bring the PN-60w and SPOT device.  I can send updates to Twitter, FB, and email.    I'm guessing Wordpress probably has a mail-to-post feature.  But SPOT messages from the PN-60w are limited to 50 characters, and no photos or anything like that.  So they'd be brief updates :).

I'm struggling to get the pack weight down, so the GPS/SPOT is on the short list of possible items to leave at home.  The two of them together, with batteries (but no spares), com to 12.7 ounces.  That's pretty significant.

The DeLorme InReach (like SPOT, but 2-way messaging) for iPhone is another option, and would give me the iPhone as a backup camera, and for typing up my daily journal.  The InReach weighs 8 oz, and the iPhone (without a hard case, which would be desirable in the backcountry) weighs 6 oz.  And the InReach costs $250.

10:20 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

VVR can be an expensive proposition and yes is somewhat civilized and yes one of the waitressess there is a real b---h.  It was not on my original itinerary, my resupply was MTR.

But those I met on the trail, who stopped there, all spoke of it effusively. 

My experiences have likewise been positive and I do not hesitate to recommend it.  A dinner table of strangers, breaking bread and taking drink, sharing their trail experiences.  People you likely see several times a day, but never have/take time enough to slow down and listen to their story.

Most compelling was last years story of a solo JMT thru-hiker, his first such long hike, and struggles with the isolation felt as a solo hiker and being alone in camp at night.  His stay at VVR was a game changer.  We shared a table (with 5 others) and even though he had encountered everyone several times since leaving Yosemite, had not connected in a meaningful way.  There he had a place and time and made connections, and he expressed on a toast that prior to that night he was ready to quit, but now knew he could and would finish.  He had others he could share a stretch of trail or a campsite with and they with him.  

I've been twice and sense this is not an isolated incident. 

If you have the ability to splurge a bit, and are okay sitting around a fire talking till past midnight drinking beer or wine or single malt, you may too find it to your liking.

End of advertisement...but it is a worthy stop.

10:59 p.m. on June 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

Steve..I was hiking largely alone on my Trek and encountered the same people on the trail from time to time too and I concur with your sense of things.

3:32 p.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Steve T, I don't expect the issues you described where the guy struggled with the isolation.  But almost everything I've read indicates VVR is a key part of the experience.  I'm still contemplating it... first focusing on my gear, then the trip itinerary.

I may want to split up the last leg with a resupply somewhere past MTR.  The $$ for that would likely come from whatever I would have spent at VVR.  For example I read somewhere (but have not verified) that one can arrange to pick up supplies at the pack station in Onion Valley - but for a $75 fee...  and I'm pretty set against going into town to resupply.

8:31 p.m. on June 15, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

What does that mean, Bill.....you buy all the stuff and for $75 they will have there for you? Where is that resupply spot located?

1:56 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

bheiser1, are you sure about the $75 fee?  Last time I heard about one of the pack services it was about 3 times that amount, somewhere in the $200 - $250 range to bring in you food.  If you can confirm that cost please let us know! 

The Muir Trail Ranch fees are $55 per 5 gallon bucket up to 25lbs.  Plus the postage to sent it to Lakeshore, CA 93634. 

Red Meadows look like they will have showers again this year.  From what I have read this has not been available for the last few years.  Their Hiker box cost is $35 per package and $1.00 per day storage.  Timing is everything!  I am sure they will also be charging for the showers too. 

The VVR will pick up your package and hold it for you for $18.00.

From the Muir Ranch to the end of the trail, you either have to walk out, or have someone bring it in. 

Wolf

3:51 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

How do those drops work? How do you tell them what to bring what to do? How do they know when to bring it?

5:33 p.m. on June 17, 2012 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
25 forum posts

Who carries out the bucket? If they pick it up, can it be full of all your "trash"?

1:20 a.m. on June 18, 2012 (EDT)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

Grandrimp  (Nice truck, is that how you change the oil?)

Bucket or Boxes are normally taken by the place you sent them to.  No extra charge as far as I can tell.  Muir Ranch requires that you send it as a bucket.  They are usually fairly rodent proof.  VVR you can send either as it goes UPS (usually) but buckets are more secure.  I would hate to get a box and find out that mice had been it eating and crapping all over everything.  Plastic bags won't stop the mice from smelling the food.

Big Sis (I'm never going to stop!) 

From what I understand this is basically how a pack animal drop works.

1) You get your food/supplies to the ranch, where ever they are.  I think for most of them you can drop it off or mail it.

2) Pay the fees, actually this should probably be first.

3) set a date and time (AM / PM) that kind of thing depending on how far in the drop is.

4) They are there at the date requested.  Their is a few places that have 55 gallon drums that they put your stuff in, or the park / forest has Bear Boxes in a lot of places too.  That is if your not there to receive your supplies.  It's really just a drop service, you tell them when and where, they tell you how much.  Most of the pack animals have a 150lbs load, so it better if this can be worked out with several people. 

Most of the ranches that I looked at don't actually tell you how much something like this is.  I think a lot of it has to do with load weight, distance to drop, and how long in days it takes to get there and back.  The closer to a trail head the better off your cost are going to be.  If you set up a drop that takes some one three days to do it's probably going to cost over $500, maybe even close to a grand.  Where as a half day in and then drop, should be $200 to $300.  I THINK!  Don't quote me.  :)

I am not sure about the Onion Vally set up.  I don't know if that is a regular camp in the summer and they just take your stuff with the rest of the stuff they need or what.  But if it works like that and it's not too far off the trail that would really be the best way to do it.  Again it would probably be 5 gallon buckets.  I guess these are east to hang on the pack animals.

My Plan was/is to do this next year and I have been studding it for a while.  Because I did not get permits for the Wonderland this year, I was thinking about trying to do it this year, but I just don't know right now.

Wolf

12:05 a.m. on June 19, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Many Sierra outfitter concessions will horse a load up to the crest line passes above their concessions for a pretty nominal price.  The JMT passes within a day hike of many of these passes.  This is the most economical manner I am aware of to hire a food drop.  Contact the specific outfitter for the details.  You can barter if your drop can be added to a excursion the concession is already scheduled to conduct.

I never bothered hiring a food drop.  Instead we used "warm up" hikes to self-drop our large thru hike caches.  It is cheap, but you pay for it in effort.  Since the cache would sit in its remote location for weeks to months, it had to be varmint, raven, and bear proof.  Bear vaults meet these criteria, but I would not leave a vault where bears or another person is likely to get at it and carry it off.  Besides, bear vaults are rather small if traveling in a group, and pricy if staging several caches.  We preferred to use 20 gallon metal trash cans, suspending them with ss wire cable over ledges in locations where bears cannot get to, and people are unlikely to discover.  It is one thing to set a cache, but remember you also have to go back and take out whatever was left behind at the cache location, usually the same trash can filled with camp garbage.  Alas caching is an illegal practice in much of the Sierras.

The best way to do food drops, especially smaller ones, is get a friend to do it for you, meeting you in the backcountry.  This takes good logistical planning, however, so choose your designate carefully.  It sucks when the two of you fail to connect. 

Ed

12:25 p.m. on June 19, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

What I've "heard" about Onion Valley is that they will pack in your supples, as Wolfman said, up to 150 lbs., to Kearsarge Lakes or Charlotte Lake.  I, too, have heard prices in the $250-300 range.  That could be feasible for a group, but not a solo hiker.  I've also heard that one can ship a container for them to hold at the Pack Station in Onion Valley, and I've heard prices ranging from $75 to $100 for this (ouch!).  Then you'd camp somewhere on the inside, and day hike over the pass, pick up your supplies, and return to your campsite.

I have a message in to them to find out what it would cost. I'll post an update when I find out.

1:03 a.m. on June 20, 2012 (EDT)
7 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

A cheaper option, though it requires time is to make your own food drops.  I've made the ~15 mile dayhike to leave a food cache near Bullfrog Lake.  Bullfrog for 3 reasons; it is day hike-able from Onion Valley, it is close enough to halfway between MTR and Whitney, and it has been closed to camping for more than 40 years so it cannot be a bear magnet.

There are boulder clefts on the northeast side of the lake that are perfect for caching.  But keep in mind that it is "illegal" to do this and if a ranger finds your cache they will confiscate (so you are screwed).  They frown on caching as such because so many people bail and the crap is left straned in the backcountry.  You only need to speak with the folk at MTR to see this.  Roughly 20% never arrive to collect their food caches.

Just weigh it out and do what makes sense.  One day or $300.  I usually spend the day.

1:20 a.m. on June 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hmmm, yeah, I've read about that practice on another site.  Too bad it's illegal...  ... though I can understand why it is.

4:07 p.m. on June 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

OK, I confirmed with Pine Creek Pack Station (which services Onion Valley, Kearsarge Lakes, Charlotte Lake, etc).  I didn't get a price for the pack-in service as they need to know the specific date and align it with their other trip plans (which makes sense, especially when talking about just one bucket).  

If you ship them a bucket for storage, they will hold it in Onion Valley for a flat rate of $125 for as long as you need.

7:22 p.m. on June 26, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

How much (pounds) do you need packed in, about when do you want it?

I've known to do some really fun things like resupply people I know.

Or I can have it at Onion Valley for the price of gasoline (from/to Pasadena).

The manager of the campground at OV has held a cache for a lot less than $125.  Let me check to see.  E-mail me too. I can pass phone numbers, etc.

You might want to plan on Kearsarge Lakes for the night.  From K Lakes to Onion Valley and return is probably around 7 hours.  If you go into Independence for a shower/laundry, a bit longer.

BTW There are plenty of bears who normally forage around Bull Frog.  All of the drainages north of Forester south of Glen have bears. A few smarter than others.

12:49 a.m. on June 27, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hmmm, interesting option.  Maybe a way for the campground host to make a few bucks :).  Email sent.

Thanks for the bear warning too...  I'll be using a canister ... standard practice for me in the Sierra even though they're not required in some stretches along there.

9:26 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

I picked up my "re-supply shipping" buckets today at Lowes.  This probably sounds funny, but it sure did feel great walking out of the store with them in hand!  Having those, plus the growing mound of food in the other room waiting to be packaged & packed, makes this all feel more and more real every day! :D

I never realized how hard it would be to buy 30 days worth of groceries all at once.  I've spent days figuring out what I need, and finding some of what I need (in bulk) online, now running from store to store to fill in the gaps.  All the while I'm wondering, "will I really want to eat *that* after having it every few days for 2 or 3 weeks?" :).  For example, I've included Spam ... as it's high in protein (and as I found out last week, actually tastes good in a rice "soup" if one is hungry enough).  If anyone had told me not long ago that I'd be eating Spam, I'd have told them they were gravely mistaken! :)

9:37 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

Any Vienna Snausages?

9:45 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Haha, funny you should ask.  I saw them in Costco today (not that I need 18 cans of 24 snausages anyway).  Plus they're in cans rather than nice flat pouches. No plans to add them at this point, but we'll see.

I'm actually really disappointed that the chicken breast in-a-pouch isn't available anymore.  They're quite good, and would be healthy.  But no place seems to have them in stock now.

I'm planning to eat a lot of the Spam, and also Tuna packed in Olive Oil as opposed to my usual packed in water choice.  It looks like I'll be running a pretty major calorie deficit as currently planned.

10:00 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

I am a fan of the foil pack tuna as well cubed chicken breast. 

Honestly, 2 things I think ever backpacker should own is  a food dehydrator and a vacuum sealer. :p

Very good investments that will save one alot of money over the long haul. 

Mountain house meals are expensive. This also give you the ability to make what you like not what a company thinks you like. 

10:52 p.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

The foil pack (pouch) chicken is the one that doesn't seem to be stocked anywhere here anymore. I'll be using the tuna too (and salmon), but not every day for a month :)

I'm not using Mountain House, hence my needing these other items.

I may consider a dehydrator, though certainly not in time for this trip. The vacuum pack thing is a good idea except it doesn't work well when using bear canisters, as the resulting packages aren't malleable enough for tight packing.

1:06 a.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

A couple Ideas for meats, in addition to Spam and Tuna.  Costco has those large packs of Pepperoni sticks that are good for adding to soups and the like or just a part of your lunch.  I have also heard of people doing this with Jerky but I have not tried that. 

Another item I often use is the precooked individual sausages, given that three weeks is probably to long, but they would be fine for the first week or so, just  make sure you fully cook them not just warm them after the first few days.  Given that they are fully cooked and individually sealed their spoilage rate is very low, even after a week out of refrigeration.  Now of course you have to use this at your own risk bla bla bla.

I wish there were more options in the self stable meats then their are now, besides cans that is.  I liked the chicken too, but like you I have not been able to find it at my normal store. 

Two other places I would suggest, First is "Trader Joe's" and then Asian food stores often have stuff that you just can't find in normal stores.  

Good Luck.

Wolf


 

12:03 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

I'm leery of pushing my luck with refrigerated meats.  Finishing this trip successfully is too important to me to take any chances.  I have my Spam packs (I still laugh to myself whenever I say that, because it seems so far fetched) and I have the Salmon on order.  Now I just need to go find the tuna in olive oil (most stores carry the normaly-healthier packed in water kind).

I'll check out Trader Joe's, good idea.

btw, I originally thought 3 weeks ... but someone volunteered to do a resupply for me at OV, so I've stretched it out to 4 weeks to make the most of the time I have (i.e. no need to rush thru the last half due to limited food supply).  I'll do a couple of small side trips to explore along the way.

12:23 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

DOH! Olive oil is the heathier way to eat your tuna! he he! It really is...that is a good fat, the olive oil and you need it to actually be healthier. Trader Joes should have it. Only thing is, I am not sure about the soft packs. I like to get my salmon from this guy. It is Vital Choice. It is wild caught and packed and therefore full of nutrients and the best of the omega3. They have some salmon and tuna meal kits, though I do not know the packaging. They also have Salmon jerky, soups, and smoked fish. Lots more things too!

 

12:36 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

I'll check out that one too, thanks! Even if they don't have packaging suitable for the trail, it looks like good stuff for home.

My reference to the packed-in-water tuna being healthier, I was thinking in terms of calories.  That one is about 90 calories for a 3.5oz package, whereas the one packed in olive oil is 250.  :)

But on the trail it looks like I'll be at a major calorie deficit ... some of which is good (burn off some fat) but I still need to up my calorie intake.

7:46 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Well I seem to be doing a good job wiping out stock in local stores, lol.  No more tuna in oil pouches at 2 Safeway stores in town.  Now I need to travel further to find the remaining ones I need.  And one Lucky store is almost out of SPAM pouches now.

8:49 p.m. on July 12, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

HA HA.... Go to Molly Stone in San Bruno if you have to get too far afield!

4:02 a.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

BACON!!!!  Get some precooked bacon at the grocery store.  It doesn't need refrigeration.  It tastes great and is light too.  Those dried gravy and sauce packages from grocery stores add dimension to otherwise bland freeze dried and dehydrated items.  The sauce packages in the ethnic section tend to have more robust taste.  Lemon extract goes a far way for the weight, making things taste brighter.  If you eat what you fish, bring some bread crumbs to vary the cooking style of your fresh caught meal.  Fresh garlic weighs practically nothing and stores well enough for your trip considerations.   Many other embellishment ideas, but knowing your main courses would help focus these comments.

Ed 

6:22 p.m. on July 13, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

OK, I think I've found the remaining items, unless I decide to add something, or if in packing it all I find I've missed something.

This, allegedly, is all of the food I'll have for 30 days! And all of a sudden that huge bear canister looks tiny (only up to 1/6th of the food will need to go in for any given segment between re-supply points).  The white buckets are for shipping stuff to the re-supply points.

Oh, and not shown is some Angel Hair pasta, but I don't think I'll put it in... I need to test it first to see if I can cook it properly using the pot cozy to save fuel (bring to a boil, then let sit).  I've heard conflicting reports on this.  Plus, eating it with a Titanium spoon, my only utensil, could be tricky.   I'll probably ditch it and stick with the smaller pasta, CousCous and rice as bases.


image.jpg


1:27 p.m. on July 14, 2012 (EDT)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

LOL  I think I eat that much in a WEEK!! 

Love the mixed Nuts!  They are one of my favorites at Costco.   It may be to late, but the trail mix and the dried fruit nut mix they have are also great, and really high in calorie count, two cup mix is like 800 calories.

Also I don't see the 12 pack of Mack and Cheese!!  WHAT Up With That??    :D


Looken Good, God I wish I could take off for 4 weeks! 

Wolf

7:20 p.m. on July 14, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

Good luck on your hike, Ed. My partner Paul and I are doing a "flip-flop" hike on JMT starting 31st July so if you see this horrid purple hat (as in picture) on the trail, please say hello! It's great to share your excitement and loved the food picture! We're going to have to buy all our food and send it off while severely jetlagged in our first two days in USA (Mammoth) after flying from Australia, so the food info. is great. How are you going with the weight? I just can't seem to get my base weight below the 20lbs someone recommended - it's pared down to 23lbs now and that was after taking out the pocket knife, insulated drinking mug, Crocs and tiny journal book... Are you having any more luck than me? Did you buy a new pack? And are you having a blog? (care to share the address?) . Anyway, best wishes to you!

12:42 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hi Donna - if you're starting SoBo, there's a good chance we'll run into each other around that time.  I think you'll have your hands full doing all that food-prep in just two days - wow! :)

My pack weight is higher than yours.  It depends how you count "base weight" (there seem to be lots of different views on this).  But for me, counting just my pack & everything in it (not counting food, water, clothes I'm wearing, or  things like trekking poles that I carry separately) I'm at about 25.7 lbs right now.  This does include some heavy items such as power for camera batteries, GPS, etc.

Fully-loaded, including inside & outside the pack, clothes I'm wearing (but not my shoes), plus 5 days of food & 2L of water, I'm in at 46.3 lbs.

I did buy a new pack - it's a Deuter ACT Lite 65+10.  I'll review it formally once I've used it more.  But so far I like it a lot.  I went on a 40 mile trip a little over a week ago, and for the first time EVER, I came back without sore shoulders and hips.  That having been said, this pack is about 4 lbs;  you can get a comparable GoLite for about half that - but I like the rigidity of the Deuter for the load I carry (the GoLite is frameless).

I considered a blog, but it would have been just one more thing to do.  From the time I decided to do this trip, til my planned start, was only a month and a half ... including time for a few prep trips.  I think this thread on TS is the closest I'll have to a blog, though of course I'll write a full trip report when I finish.

Good luck with your hike.  I'll watch for you out there.

p.s. what will you use for crossing Evolution Creek without your crocs? I hear the water is very low this year, but it's still a wet crossing. I got a pair of O'Neill Reactor Reef 2mm booties.  They worked great on several crossings  on my recent trip, but they weigh in at 12.8 oz (362.9g). 

5:37 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

There will be a new kind of animal seen having breakfast along the JMT this summer.  It's called the "creature of habit".


image.jpg

And here they are all packaged up.  I'm debating whether to save a bit of bulk by just emptying the oatmeal packets into the outer bag, but that seems like a big mess just waiting to happen.

image.jpg

8:29 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Not so much of the "creature of habit" for dinner. There'll be Spam, Tuna, Salmon, and around and around again :).  But at least there's a slew of seasonings to make them "different"... Yummm...

[oops, drag 'n drop of images doesn't work here... let's try this again...]


image.jpg

8:37 p.m. on July 16, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Wolfman said:

LOL  I think I eat that much in a WEEK!! 

Love the mixed Nuts!  They are one of my favorites at Costco.   It may be to late, but the trail mix and the dried fruit nut mix they have are also great, and really high in calorie count, two cup mix is like 800 calories.

Also I don't see the 12 pack of Mack and Cheese!!  WHAT Up With That??    :D


Looken Good, God I wish I could take off for 4 weeks! 

Wolf

Hmmm, yeah, it doesn't look like much in that pile, does it.  But it sure seems like a lot now that I'm packaging it.  Though my rice portions look small, hmmm...  

No packages of mac 'n cheese, but I did get some cheese sauce mixes at Whole Foods, so I'll use 'em with CousCous and another tiny pasta I found...  Macaroni seemed too bulky, and maybe hard to cook (to conserve fuel, I will use a pot cozy, minimizing real cooking time).

8:11 a.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

So impressed by your organized food, Bill (not sure why I called you Ed, sorry!) There's an opening for someone to organize food for overseas hikers!!! (maybe a small market, though!) We're taking a pretty laid back approach to the food, you'd probably be horrified! Months ago I worked it all out in great detail - how may grams of noodles, how many calories of this etc etc how many spoonfuls of coffee... but as you say I think we will have our hands full and we are gonna do a rule of thumb average 400calories per 3 oz for all the food we buy and carry 1.2kg (ummm - maybe 2 1/2 pounds, thereabouts?) for the two of us for the first week then 1.5kg per day for the rest of the trip. We'll indulge in extra meals at every opportunity as we'll be stopping in at Mammoth, VVR and MTR then exiting the JMT at Bishop Pass. It will just be too stressful to worry about it much more than that. So if you see me eating salami and chocolate for breakfast, and breaking crackers into my cowboy coffee, you'll know why! We do have a rough idea - three base main meals (cous cous, noodles, mashed potatoes) that we'll alternate and like you dress up with sauces/herbs/parmesan and foil wrapped chicken and tuna etc. We'll also take multivitamins! We have muesli for breakfast every day at home, so why not on the trail? My partner has been having the same sandwich for lunch at work every day for about five years!!!! Trail food might be an improvement on our normal eating habits!

Thanks for sharing your packweight. I think my partner is looking to carry somewhere around 40lbs fully loaded (he's carrying our tent, love him!!) but I'm not that strong. I rethought my whole pack and I'm full of glee and have it down to a smidgeon over 20 lbs now, that's just the pack and everything I'll carry in it, not what I'm wearing. All that will be added is food and water and alcohol (for cooking ... maybe a little for drinking, we'll see!), so that will bring it up to a maximum weight of 29ish lbs, which will still feel heavy I'm sure but is a lot better! And thanks for comments about Evolution Creek, I've put the Crocs back in the pile, also my z-lite 'seat" (which is really just a 60g square of bumpy foam, but we can dream ...). The Crocs weigh 340grams (12ish oz?). I've been looking for some mesh "water shoes" that other people have talked about on this site but just can't seem to find them in Australia. The Crocs are worn smooth on the bottoms so I'm thinking of dotting some silicone underneath for better traction... not sure how long this would last though... I'll tie the Crocs to my ankles with spare shoelaces so I don't lose them in the Creeks...

That's great that you bought a new pack and are happy with it!! 

Cheers and good luck and I hope we have lovely weather, trail free of fallen trees, and no forest fires!

10:31 a.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

I know you guys already have your food down...wish I ahd posted this earlier....but Dahl Baat was the food most served on my trek and is eaten daily by the locals. It is rice and lentils....lentils are really good fuel. Not sure about cook time for trail etc.

1:26 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Gifto, yep, it's good to have alternatives.  That rice, couscous, and mashed potatoes will get old really fast.

Donna, the water shoes I got are these:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/77xyaog

So you can order them online ... though it's best to try them on in person.  You might try a store specializing in surfing or paddling gear, I think it's one of those for which these are actually intended.  I like using them around camp, as it's nice to get the hiking shoes off at the end of the day.

5:55 a.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

If Evolution Creek is the only wet crossing concerning you, forego the crocs, just use your boots.  After crossing, remove them, dry your feet and the boot interiors with a towel, then re-shoe with dry socks.  The minor amount of water absorbed by the boots will have little consequence.  Try it at home if you doubt.

Ed

12:10 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Yup, that's certainly one approach, especially if one is hiking in light trail runners.  However this is where the "ultra light" discussions intersect with practical reality.  Sometimes it's just plain worth it to carry more than we need to "get by".

While one can "get by" walking through water, one might also argue that it's not ideal (especially if they're not wearing light trail runners), and that it's worth carrying the 13 ounces to have the water shoes along.  Then there's the matter of having nothing but the hiking shoes to wear from 2 weeks to a month.  Wearing the same shoes day after day, every single day, whether in camp or on the trail, and even on rest days, from morning til night.  Yep, I'll carry the water shoes :).

7:13 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

bheiser1 said:

Yup, that's certainly one approach, especially if one is hiking in light trail runners...

  ..Then there's the matter of having nothing but the hiking shoes to wear from 2 weeks to a month...

As you may know, Bill, I am a proponent of sturdy boots, if for no other reason my pack scales on the heavy side (70 pounds for ten days on the JMT).  I use the dry-off-after-wet-crossing technique with heavy boots (the ones with the rigid shank in the sole, etc).  The amount of moisture left behind is no worse than what I sweat into the boot anyway.

Fortunately I also manage to find boots comfortable enough to lace loose and use as at-camp wear, so I am not compelled to bring a second pair of shoes for my après hike activities in camp.  But that is entirely a personal preference 

Ed

9:12 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Yup, Ed, I totally understand that that's one point of view on footwear for water crossings (and après hike activities in camp) :).

7:08 a.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

"Apres Hike" - I like that :)  When are you heading off, Bill?

7:13 a.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

PS I've just been watching John Dittli's youtube videos of "iceskating the JMT" - 1,000 Island Lake and Shadow Lake. SOOOO beautiful!!!! I don't know how to do links but easy to find if you are wanting to whet your appetite. We were wondering what the trout do in winter, there's a lovely shot of trout swimming under the ice, amazing! 

12:36 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Oh, yeah, I think i saw the videos you're talking about.  That would be an interesting time to be up there!

I heard there were people ice skating on Tenaya Lake on the Tioga Road in Yosemite this past winter - there was little snow, so the road was open well into January - so it provided an unusual opportunity.

12:10 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
21 reviewer rep
1,165 forum posts

Congratulations on your decision to take on some adventure.  We all need it, but rationalize all the reasons why it won't happen this year.  I have covered lots of the JMT on horsepack and really enjoyed that country.  I can heartily recommend that you take some sidetrips.  The PCT can seem crowded at times but the side trails are much quieter and sometimes have no tracks and no campfire rings.  There are a few hot springs around like Idabel that a real treat after a week or two on the trail.

I just bought a 1970 Kelty to replace my $300 North Face internal.  The old ways are the best ways.

 

7:30 p.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

I, too, applaud your adventure. I really like that you are out there seeing it pretty regularly but that you have given yourself this treat to really be there without the work week interrupting you!

12:55 p.m. on July 22, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Thanks for the feedback & encouragement!  On one hand, it seems fairly "ordinary".  After all, "hundreds" of people do the JMT every year.  And it's a fraction of the distance of the PCT or JMT.  But it still feels like a big deal to me and I'm looking forward to a great experience.

5:19 a.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

I know hiking the JMT might seem ordinary within the small confines of the long-distance hiking fraternity, but outside of that relatively small fringe group most people would think it's an astonishing, brave and very athletic and challenging thing to do! To hike 200+ miles in the wilderness, carry everything you need on your back, no mobile phone, no showers ... etc etc (Admittedly most of those non-hikers can't understand why on earth you would WANT to do it, either!!) But I think it's fabulous! You can always compare yourself to people who do longer trails, what about all the people who never even do ONE night of backpacking in the wilderness? Here in Australia a lot of people who are "up for a challenge" hike the Kokoda track in PNG, (it has military history significance, not of great interest to me...). I only recently discovered that it's only a 7 - 9 day hike. And others tackle Kilimanjaro, which I think is five days up and three days down. Both of these are seen as major accomplishments. So that for me puts the JMT into perspective as a very major undertaking, and in perhaps one of the most beautiful places on Earth! And I think that's good, to take it seriously. Lots of people don't finish it successfully. Best wishes for successful, happy hike! You must be leaving soonish??

12:31 p.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Donna, I think you're right.  Reading the hiking forums it's easy to forget that by most measures the JMT is a significant effort.   I've never done anything quite like this :).

btw I sent you a PM (the "Messages" link in the upper right corner of the page).

Anyway thanks for the wishes - and same to you, enjoy your trip!

12:43 p.m. on July 23, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

I don't think one can compare a long, multi week thru hike with a climb like kili or any other high altitude experience. They are apples and oranges. they access different skills and you confront different extremes. Mileage at altitude is not the same as mileage at lower heights. I do commend participants in both efforts.

5:14 a.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

Yes me too!!! Not really comparing, just saying the JMT is up there is all! Just spending such a long period alone away from "normal" life is pretty amazing, in my book! What is that line from the old movie where Tom Hanks is coaching the female baseball players ... "Well of COURSE it's HARD!!!! If it was easy everyone would do it!!!" (or words to that effect!) 

1:54 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Yeah... and it seems like even different "long" hikes differ significantly.  To me, the AT seems like a "really long slog".  Yet the JMT has other challenges, like re-supplies, higher elevation, etc.  I guess this is a good reason to do as many of them as we can, to experience the different kinds of trips :).

2:02 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Another important bit of packing done...  I tried the so-called "wilderness bidet" method on my recent trip, and let's just say it "didn't work out as well as I had hoped".

OK, maybe now I'm over-sharing, lol :).

The odor blocking bags are for packing out the paper ...  and I'm counting on picking up the required "wag bag" from the ranger station en route for carrying "everything" out from the Mt Whitney section.

image.jpg

7:57 p.m. on July 24, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

bheiser1 said:

 

OK, maybe now I'm over-sharing, lol :).

 

image.jpg

 It's nice we're having weather!

8:43 p.m. on July 25, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

OK, on to more pleasant topics, lol :)

I've sent my payment for one of the re-supplies that needs pre-payment, and requested shipping labels.  The shipping is about to commence! :D

6:16 p.m. on July 27, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Have my storage box all ready to tuck in your Kearsarge Lakes stuff.  You pack any goodies for me?

You are sooo going to like this hike.  Just be sure to look back a lot.  Otherwise, you only see those views if you go south to north (recommended too).

8:06 p.m. on July 27, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

speacock said:

You pack any goodies for me?

Sure!  Would you prefer Spam with Instant Potatoes, Spam with Rice, or Spam with CousCous? :-D

But seriously, thanks for your support - this is making a major difference in my trip.  I can't wait to get started :).

5:59 a.m. on July 29, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

Hi Bill

Re. VVR resupply.

We have just arrived in USA today and someone (not from VVR!) has emailed me to say that the edison lake ferry is not running and need to walk 5miles around the lake to resupply. I'm not sure if this is correct, the VVR website seems to suggest they are running a van shuttle to replace the ferry - I've emailed VVR which I think is the only way to contact them and I'm awaiting reply. I'd like to think they are able to drive a van across the dry lake bed to the usual Mono Creek ferry landing ... but we'll see!! This is potentially a major issue for us!

 

9:49 a.m. on July 29, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hi Donna,

Yes, I heard this past week that the ferry service has been discontinued for the summer due to low water level in the lake.  There are several options.

1.  Take the Mono Creek trail from Quail Meadow.  My understanding is that it's approximately 6 miles in to VVR by this route.  The trail skirts the north edge of Lake Edison and ends up in a maze of woods roads near the resort.  I'm told you should generally bear left to reach the resort through this maze of roads.

2. Take the Bear Ridge trail.  This requires climbing up Bear Ridge, then hiking back down the other side, and then walking a mile or two to the resort.

3. Take the Bear Creek trail.  This is longer & does require a climb up and down part of Bear Ridge, but the rest of the hike along Bear Creek is nicer.  I believe the Bear Creek trail is several miles from VVR.

I think you said you are headed Southbound.  If so the best route in to VVR is the Mono Creek Trail.  To return to the JMT from VVR, If you are continuing southbound, and aren't a "purist" (as I am), you may want to ask VVR to shuttle you to the Bear Creek TH, and continue southbound that way.  That's the shuttle you heard about (to the Bear Creek & Bear Ridge TH's).  If you use this plan you may not lose as much time as you'd expect, because you'll end up resuming the JMT further south than where you left it.

In my case, I'm taking a purist approach to the trail, headed SoBo, so I will hike in to VVR on the Mono Creek Trail, and then hike back out the same trail to resume the JMT where I left off.

I hope this helps - and good luck!

-Bill

4:43 p.m. on August 3, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

And he's off.  Sending daily updates along with way-points and having a ball progressing as planned.  He's up Lyle Creek to Monarch Pass probably today or tomorrow unless he takes time to do some scenic tangents near Vogelsang Lake

8:57 p.m. on August 3, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

I meant DONAHUE Pass.  Should be killin' fish in Thousand Island Lake tonight.

10:12 p.m. on August 3, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

What a great adventure!

5:49 p.m. on August 9, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
592 reviewer rep
1,514 forum posts

Just had a "chat" via the inREACH with Bill and he is about 80 miles in to the JMT on day 10 of his adventure and having a blast! He loves being out there. I am waiting with baited anticipation for pictures and stories of the whole event!

8:14 p.m. on August 10, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hi everyone. I'm at my third resupply point of five. Only 130 miles to go. This is an excellent trip, I can see why it is so popular.

I am nursing an ankle I jury but hopeful that with some rest it'll be fine soon.

8:41 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Last message today from Bill proves he still exists and about 1/2 way on the trail.  He has 10 days of food leaving Muir Trail Ranch (Florence Lake) today and making a run for Onion Valley (outside of Independence CA) to have a resupply there on the 24th.  Too bad he can't loiter around in between.  Some powerful pretty scenery there to be explored on day side trips.

The DeLorme stuff seems to work as described.  Catch him if you can here:

https://explore.delorme.com/textmessage/txtmsg?mo=2c9d0478370d49b99c26eeee3790b713881818

For those interested in a rest stop:

http://www.muirtrailranch.com/resupply.html

12:28 a.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Speacock said:

He has 10 days of food leaving Muir Trail Ranch (Florence Lake) today and making a run for Onion Valley (outside of Independence CA) to have a resupply there on the 24th.  Too bad he can't loiter around in between.  Some powerful pretty scenery there to be explored on day side trips.

Agreed.

As Bill travels South from Muir Trail Ranch, he’ll be passing through Evolution Valley, then Evolution Basin.  Charles Beck, in his book Trout Fishing the John Muir Trail writes:

“When the subject of hiking the JMT is broached among mountain enthusiasts, Evolution Valley is often cited as one of the scenic climaxes.  When you consider all the Grandeur that the trail passes through, this is high praise indeed.  If you are fortunate enough to see Evolution Valley, I doubt you’ll be disappointed - it’s one of those rare places that exceeds even the highest expectations no matter how exaggerated the descriptions or how glowing the recommendations have been”.

This coming from someone who lives just down the hill from Yosemite National Park.  Indeed John Muir himself is attributed with giving simular high praise to this section of the Sierras.  I have not been there since the 1970s, but am planning a 10 day base camp/fishing trip for next summer to Colby Meadow or Evolution Lake.  The cover picture to my flyer for this trip says it all:
image.jpg

Ed

10:31 a.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

The next section for him (between Vidette Meadows and Wallace Creek) is magical for those who are acclimated, sufficiently supplied and have the time to explore and enjoy the stark beauty of a high Sierra river source that just happens to have  a 13,200' pass as a way-point and five 14,000' peaks as an eastern edge.

What a relatively rare treat is Tulainyo Lake above the Wallace Lake chain and the entire high ridge along the western boundary that includes Table Mountain. I suspect more than one has taken a whack at a ball with a driver there - just because they could.

More than a few have had the exhilaration of actually finding the route on Harrison Pass or not seen a soul for the entire length of the trail from that pass to Wallace Creek at Junction Meadows.  It is amazingly close to the tramped trail of the PCT/JMT and the many hurrying to get to Crabtree Meadows with feverish anticipation building with every step closer to Mt Whitney.

So many missed opportunities just so near that it only takes the time of a long rest break to get on the trail to some of them.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.65933,-118.39751&z=14&t=T&marker0=38.84416%2C-106.31391%2Cmt%20yale

12:47 p.m. on August 16, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

speacock said:

..More than a few have had the exhilaration of actually finding the route on Harrison Pass...

..So many missed opportunities just so near that it only takes the time of a long rest break to get on the trail to some of them.

Getting to Harrison Pass: 
Exhilarating? Perhaps if you have any wind left in your pipes to celebrate!  It is tough enough doing that pass on late season snow, albeit route finding is not a big issue over snow. It must be a beast in the summer time.  Just getting to the lakes below the pass probably requires scouting ahead, unless one wants to expend a bunch of effort wandering through steep, brush covered, terrain with a pack. 

Side trips... 
Alas that is the tradeoff when one elects to do a standard thru hike - zero day side trips are limited.  One of my recent preoccupations is visiting awesome overviews in the Sierras.  I prefer non technical approaches, so the buds that usually accompany me can do them too.  (Besides, slogging rack and rope several days across the Sierras has limited appeal.)  For example one awesome view we recently took in is looking west upon the Bishop Creek drainage from a big, high, flat, bench on the northern end of the Inconsolable Range, located just east of the Chocolate Lakes, above SouthLake.  Over a dozen lakes are visible, just (over 2000') below your feet.  I prefer this vista to that of nearby Jigsaw Pass.  The Bishop Creek overview can be accessed via a boulder scramble up from North Fork of Big Pine Creek.  Peak 13501 and Gendarme, both located along the same ridge line, may offer even better views, but require rope and moderate climbing skills. 

A vista I plan to check out in 2014 is the overlook directly above Junction Meadow, from Peak 10455, just north of the meadow on the east side of Kern Canyon.  It looks like one can obtain a view straight down the canyon for ten miles or more.  While it is a good side trip off the JMT, I will probably take it from Mineral King, via the trail passing through Lost Canyon.

Ed

2:14 p.m. on August 17, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Ahh, hadn't thought of that.  You are right that would be a WOW view for not THAT much effort.

We went up from Green Lake then the long-ish ridge above Thunder and Lightning Lake to Cloud Ripper just in time to be drenched or our run back to the Lake.  They are definitely well named! Unfortunately a lot of stock were still using that trail back then.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.15888,-118.52334&z=15&t=T

It looked like we could get to the ridge directly north of Palisades, Thunderbolt and Polemonium someday for a picture from Skyhaven then down to Summit Lake (or the saddle between T&L Lake to Seventh)  Big Pines.  Then out over Jigsaw Pass for a loop.

We just ran out of time, energy and weather.

So many nice weekends up there (and elsewhere). So little time.

But if the through hikers could plan on a few short day trips similar to yours that could show a view of the valleys and passes they struggled over,  it could transform a wonderful journey to an epic adventure.

Bill sez he has places to see that he is bypassing because of short rations (was only able to stuff 10 days in the Bearikade).  Evolution Valley area was typical, "I am literally at a loss for words to describe my campsite tonight!  Just looking around gives me an endorphin rush!" and "...my list of places to come back and see in more detail is growing. And here I thought 30 days would be a plennnty of time! "

Ed sez:

"...via the trail passing through Lost Canyon."

AAAUUGH Sawtooth Pass...  One of my most favorite views in all of the Sierra is from Black Rock Pass looking south, down at Spring, Cyclomen and Columbine Lakes at the top of Lost Canyon - bewilderingly beautiful.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=36.47617,-118.54295&z=15&t=T

2:23 a.m. on August 18, 2012 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

speacock said:

..We went up from Green Lake then the long-ish ridge above Thunder and Lightning Lake to Cloud Ripper just in time to be drenched or our run back to the Lake.  They are definitely well named! Unfortunately a lot of stock were still using that trail back then.

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.15888,-118.52334&z=15&t=T

It looked like we could get to the ridge directly north of Palisades, Thunderbolt and Polemonium someday for a picture from Skyhaven then down to Summit Lake (or the saddle between T&L Lake to Seventh)  Big Pines.  Then out over Jigsaw Pass for a loop.

We just ran out of time, energy and weather.

That is a classic East Side mountaineering route, usually done during late snow season on skis.  I’ve never done it, mainly because I find the route heading west between Mt Goode and the Sierra Crest, then over the crest to Le Conte Canyon to be much easier, yet just as satisfying.

..AAAUUGH Sawtooth Pass...  One of my most favorite views in all of the Sierra is from Black Rock Pass looking south, down at Spring, Cyclomen and Columbine Lakes at the top of Lost Canyon - bewilderingly beautiful..

Yea someone else turned me on to Lost Canyon, you pretty much echo their sentiments.  I can’t wait!

Ed

2:53 p.m. on August 19, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Pinchot Pass (12,050') and still a happy camper even with perhaps the 8th day of thunderstorms and rain. Five more days until resupply at Kearsarge.  The week long monsoon weather will be clearing tomorrow.

9:42 a.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Yesterday, he did Kearsarge Pass twice before lunch to pick up his last week's supplies at Onion Valley.  He spent last night just below Forester pass in Vidette Meadows.  A bit of a long day.

8:20 p.m. on August 25, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Ed has finished the last 'hump' before he hits Mt Whitney.  Four 11,700'+ passes in 3 days that included, 12,000' Glenn, 11,700' Kearsarge (twice yesterday morning) and 13,200' Forester today starting at around 9,600'.  He will be at mostly 11,000' + for remainder of his trip this week.

Oh. He has a Trailspace sticker on his bear can.

1:33 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,296 forum posts

He made it! Bill H is standing on top of Mt Whitney, the start/finish of the John Muir Trail. Got his message from the summit at 10:12 this morning. He will get to Whitney Portal tomorrow to be picked up and driven to Yosemite to get his car and drive home.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!

Here is his message-

Mission Accomplishes!  Mt Whitney summit!  JMT complete!
 
View the location or send a reply to Bill Heiser:
https://explore.delorme.com/textmessage/txtmsg?mo=2dd08a218e57483bb46df619575c7b4e994027&adr=wstraka@pacbell.net     
 
Bill Heiser sent this message from:
Lat 36.57869 Lon -118.292542   

You can view his location by clicking on the link. Zoom in with the slider on the left. The summit hut is the rectangle just to the south of the dot marking his location.

1:34 p.m. on August 29, 2012 (EDT)
1,631 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

AWESOME !!! 

2:19 a.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
10 reviewer rep
477 forum posts

Congratulations Bill.

9:37 a.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
33 reviewer rep
78 forum posts

wow, good job!

12:57 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Wow, leave for 30 days and your thread takes on a life of its own! Lol :)

Anyway thanks for all the comments. I'm having a zero day of sorts awaiting my ride. It feels a little odd to be around cars and pavement but even here (Whitney Portal) is beautiful. I'm in no rush to get back to the city.

A trip report and a slew of gear reviews will be on my agenda when I'm back to a regular keyboard and reliable connectivity (it is sketchy here). Meanwhile I extend a hearty thank-you to Bill S, Speacock, and Giftogab for their support of my trek.

Bill S provided generous amounts of his time providing trip & gear advice. Speacock provided trip advice plus a loan of his Bearikade Expedition canister & spent a full day driving to bring me a resupply, and Gifofgab provided gear from her own recent trek and moral support.

Lastly, thanks to Trailspace for providing the forum to connect me with these fine people.

1:02 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

p.s. I also met another TS member on the trail, Donna, all the way from Australia doing a couple JMT segments with her partner. I ran into them on my way fown from Donahue Pass, early in my trip, as i was headed toward Island Pass. Small world!

4:46 p.m. on August 30, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
1,267 forum posts

Welcome back Bill.

 

Can't wait to read the report!

1:59 a.m. on September 1, 2012 (EDT)
154 reviewer rep
36 forum posts

Hi Bill

Great to hear that you made it successfully all the way to Whitney!! What a feat!  I wonder are you feeling any culture shock on "re-entry" ? We found everything terribly LOUD!!!!!  

It was a treat to meet you halfway up Donahue Pass, too bad I was a bit delirious at the time (exhaustion, altitude, jetlag...)   Look forward to your report, too! So glad you enjoyed, Hope your ankle is OK.

Cheers

Donna 

10:53 a.m. on September 6, 2012 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,270 forum posts

Hi Donna - thanks!  And, yes, re-acclimating to "regular" life has been "interesting", especially at first, coming back into the city & all after being in the backcountry for a month...

It was great to meet you two as well.  I hope the rest of your trip went well!

-Bill

September 23, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Three Peaks and Chilkoot Pass Newer: Cycling south soon.
All forums: Older: REI Live Newer: Leave No Trace Trainers Leave Behind Awareness