#2 - Hiking the JMT - Change of Plans
Now that I am officially planning to hike the John Muir Trail, I have dived headfirst into a labyrinth of information. I could spend hours, days, months, researching gear, campsites, resupply options, food, training and so much more. Research is half of the fun when it comes to backpacking. At least it is for an over analyzing, review reading, spreadsheet making nerd like me. Haha! This is my jam! With research comes not only knowledge, but sometimes the need for change.
This week I realized that I need to make a really big change. Looking logistically at starting the trail in June, I am coming to terms that it is just not going to be possible. I do not mind a challenge. That is not it at all. I was excited to take mountaineering and high-water crossing classes to prepare myself for the rivers and snow. What I did not realize was that my resupply points might not be open yet in June due to the high snow levels this year. Without resupply points close to the trail, I would have to hike out to the closest towns which would mean more time that I just do not have. It is hard enough finding 3 weeks to hike, let alone adding on to that for extra travel. This thought saddens me, because I was finally able to obtain permission for the time off work and a permit for those dates, but now I am going to have to fall back to square one. I put in yet another request for the time off work. I am requesting to start my leave from work anywhere from the beginning of July to the beginning of September. Fingers crossed we can work this out. As soon as I get the green light, I will start working on getting a permit once again.
In the meantime, I'm still researching away. This past week I have been working on my itinerary. I know I have 21 days to complete the trail which equals out to about 11 or 12 miles a day of hiking from campsite to campsite. I also know that I will be hammock camping, so I must look at the satellite maps to make sure that there are trees where I plan to camp. There are also my resupply locations that also happen to have lodging that I would like to take advantage of. There is nothing more motivating on a hike, than looking forward to a night where you can eat a hot cooked meal that does not involve a bag of freeze dried food; a place where you can wash the filth and stench not only from your clothes, but also from your body; a place where you can rest your head and aching body fully stretched out without the work of setting up your mobile home away from home. Yes, this is why my resupply locations are so important. I NEED this motivation. Here is my itinerary so far. There is plenty of time to make changes, but I think it is a good starting point. And who knows what will happen on the trail. This is merely a guide and not an absolute.
CAMPSITE / LODGE
Hike Half Dome - Clouds Rest
Hike Clouds Rest - Sunrise Creek
Reds Meadow Resort
Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR)
REST DAY @ VVR
Lou Beverly Lake or Rose Lake
Muir Trail Ranch
Big Pete Meadow
Rae Lakes (Option A: hire pack mule to drop supply) (Option B: exit to city of Independance for resupply and hotel. The hotel would add a day, or I could delete my free day at VVR.)
Golden Bear Lake
Whitney Portal to HOME
Looking above you will notice that I have added on two hikes that are not technically part of the John Muir Trail: Half Dome and Clouds Rest. Both are trails that I have always wanted to do, and I figure since I will be so close, I might as well do them. Areas in green are resupply points. Areas in yellow are locations that I can stay in a hotel/cabin if I choose to (I am sure that I will choose to). The first column lists the days on the trail. The second column lists where I will camp or lodge that night. The third column lists the mile number on the trail. The fourth column lists how many miles I will hike that day. Sometimes those two numbers do not match up because I am adding in a trail that is not part of the John Muir Trail (ex: Half Dome and Clouds Rest). One area that I am still contemplating is my last resupply. I have two options. Option A: I can hire a pack mule company (Cedar Ridge Pack Trains) to ride my last resupply box out and give it to me on the trail right before I get to Rae Lakes. Option B: I can stay at Mt Williamson Motel and Base Camp in Independence. I will only need to hike a short bit off the trail, and they will pick me up in Onion Valley. From there they drive me to the motel where I will have shipped a resupply box ahead of time. The next day they will drive me back to the trailhead and I hike back out from there. This option requires adding on a day, or I can delete my free day at VVR so that the trip still totals 21 days. I am kind of leaning towards staying at the motel (I am sure you guessed that though).
In addition to working on my itinerary, I have also been researching more gear. I know that I need to get a new quilt with a lower temperature rating. I have been researching a few companies; Katabatic Gear, Feathered Friends or Trailheadz Hammocks. Right now, I am leaning towards Trailheadz, so I emailed them for more information. I also just happened to come across Ridge Merino which has a great looking sun hoodie and hiking tights. They are even based near here in Mammoth so I might be able to try them on when I head up that way for mountaineering and water crossing classes which I plan to take with the guides at the Sierra Mountain Center this spring.
Ok, that's it! I think I have talked your ear off enough for one week. Hopefully next week I will have an update on rescheduling the hike. Till then I think I will just keep researching, planning, and dreaming of such an amazing trip!