11 forum posts
This trail is nominally 93 miles, gain and lose 20,000 ft. I did it in early August in 9 nights/10 days. There are lots of trail journals that I found for my planning so I'll just mention a couple items worth emphasizing.
-Don't jump ahead of your reservations, though a ranger may be able to change them for you by radio on the trail. But not likely you would be able to move your whole schedule up a day when you realize you were too conservative. If you jump ahead without changes you could get sent back; the rangers check permits at campsites and on the trail. You can't camp outside campsites, very hard on the meadows and you might be in real trouble if caught. If you are lagging due to exhaustion or injury that is a better excuse, you could likely bum a corner of a site from another generous hiker.
-The trail is very well worn and marked almost everywhere, except there was a late snowfall on the east side, big snowfields, and there weren't quite enough wands to make the trail clearly at one point. I got lost for a while but finally realized my GPS was right and got back on the trail. I should have been more observant as to when I wasn't sure I was on the trail, given my poor sense of direction. Could have been a real problem.
-I was carrying 4 lt water initially and a spare empty bottle. But by end of the trip I was carrying little water, as there were streams every few hrs minimum. I would filter 3 lt before dinner which would carry me through mid-next-day.
-The humidity was high so my nylon clothing wouldn't dry hung on my pack. So I'd rinse stuff in the morning and put it on midday, would be dry by time got to camp.
-I didn't take my tent, though was only 5 lbs including footprint and stakes, instead used a poncho/tarp and groundcloth hung on my trekking poles. Worked fine and saved 3.5 lbs.
-Every campsite has a bear pole, which is a pipe with bars sticking out the top, and a piece of elec conduit to hoist bags up there. I had a steel mesh critter proof bag (8 oz) that I still think is a good idea, even on the poles, as squirrels and chipmunks are the big problem. They will get into food on the ground real quick. I saw a chipmunk running down a pole but didn't hear about anyone having an issue on the pole. Everyone else had a drysack for food. Only saw a bear once, not near a campsite.
-I was used to hiking in the Grand Canyon and Big Bend with a pack up to 50 lbs. But here my pack averaged around 32 lbs I think, so I could do 10+ miles/day no problem. The really challenging bits would be long climbs in the late afternoon; they seemed so easy when got to those in the morning.
-For dinners I did two packs of ramen noodles or a box of mac and cheese. Mixed with handful of minced jerky and dehydrated vegs that I put in a bag with water at breakfast, partially rehydrated by dinnertime. Stored the bag on outside of pack with opening up to avoid smelly leaking. Didn't completely rehydrate with 6 mins simmering but was close enough. Seemed pretty tasty. I dehydrated by own vegs but too much trouble, now I'll just get soup mix dehydrated vegs on the Internet.
-Little chance of using a cell phone, I didn't have mine anyway. There were still pay phones at Paradise (off the trail) but nothing available for public use anywhere else in the entire park. I was told they are working on a solution.
I had no real problems on the trip, was a great confidence builder for future hikes. I think I'll be doing it again in a few years, before I get too old, I'm 58 now. I think next time I'll schedule for 8 nights/9 days.