#3 - Hiking the JMT - Approval Granted... and we're getting married!
As you might remember from my post last week, I had finally come to the realization that hiking the John Muir Trail in June was not going to be feasible. It was a sad realization since I had already obtained my permit and received approval from my work for the time off. These are not easy things to do. Getting approval for a 3-week vacation is quite challenging when you are the only designer at the company, and getting a permit for the hike is even harder when only about 5% of applicants actually receive a permit. Nonetheless, safety is of the utmost importance, so I decided to start over from square one and reevaluate my start date.
First up was getting a new approval date from my work to take a 3-week vacation. I knew this was not going to be easy since we are gearing up to open a new set of model homes this summer (yes, I am an interior designer). Construction is a tricky thing. You never know what might affect dates with completion, so planning becomes quite difficult. After talking it through we opted to give the most time flex for completion. Instead of assuming construction would be delayed and hiking in July, we've opted to give construction a two-month window for completion and hike out in September. Success! Approval granted for vacation in September! Step one complete.
Now on to step two. I still must obtain a permit to hike the JMT in September. Luckily permits have not been released for September yet, so I can actually enter the lottery this time instead of waiting for someone to release their permit. September is also an easier time to obtain a permit. I do not have to compete with everyone trying to hike during their summer vacation while out of school. Hopefully this works to my advantage, and I have no troubles. Permits for September are released weekly starting around the middle of March. I am hoping to get a start date of either the 3rd or the 10th. Fingers crossed!
By the way... David and I are getting married!!!! Yes, we've been engaged for about 6 years now... but finally in the planning stages. We have decided to have a small wedding the day before we head out on the John Muir Trail and then hike out together for the first part. I am so excited that we will be able to share this great adventure together and even more excited to finally celebrate our love together. David loves hiking and camping just like I do, but in shorter durations. Let's just say he values showers more than I do. LOL! Currently it is looking like he will spend between 3-8 days out of the 21 days on the trail (most likely 3). After that I am trying to get one of my best friends or possibly two, to do the next section of 3-5 days with me. After that I will be on my own. I don't mind though. I actually like hiking on my own. It is a relaxing activity where I can focus on my own thoughts and all the beauty around me.
As for planning, I've been working on purchasing some of my gear upgrades this week. My setup is already fairly light, but I am trying to go even lighter. Hiking is just so much more enjoyable when you do not have a dreadfully heavy pack on your back to carry... especially for three weeks. The first item that I decided to upgrade was my backpack. I love my current ULA Circuit backpack, but at 39.2 oz, it is not exactly ultralight. To save weight I have decided to switch to the Durston Kakwa 55. The Kakwa 55 is actually larger than my Circuit, carries heavier weight, is waterproof, can carry a bear can horizontally, includes strap pockets so I can delete that as well, and weighs 12.95 oz less! I hope it is as comfortable as my Circuit. I hear great reviews, so I think it will be. Speaking of bear cans, I have also decided to upgrade my bear can. A bear canister holds all your food and smelly items so that bears cannot steal them. They are required on the JMT and a lot of trails in California. My current bear canister is the Bear Vault 500 weighing in at 44 oz. I have decided to switch to the Bearikade Weekender saving me 13 oz. The Bearikade Weekender is just a little bit smaller, but I think if I plan my food accordingly, it will work out just fine. I have a lot of resupply points planned, so my longest food carry stretch will be about a week. Next up, I decided to change out my hammock tarp. My current tarp is the Warbonnet Minifly weighing in at 14.3 oz. My new tarp will be a Hammock Gear Dyneema Standard with Doors. Not only does this tarp weigh 7 oz lighter, but it's also a lot larger than my current tarp, so there will be a lot more wind and rain protection. Bonus! Lastly, I decided to switch out my pajama bottoms. This was a change that I was not sure I wanted to do, but I think in the end it will be better. I've decided to switch from my Smartwool base layer pants to a pair of Enlightened Equipment Torrid APEX pants. This only saves me about 1 oz on the pants, but what I was really thinking of was that they would keep me warmer at night and I could get a lighter sleep system. Instead of going with a 10-degree sleep system, I could probably get away with a 20-degree sleep system. I am still debating on that one though. I like to be warm... so who knows. I might still go with the 10-degree sleep system. That is next up on my list. For now though, I have saved 34 oz or just over 2 pounds! Great Savings!!!
Ok, I think I've talked your ear off enough for a week or two. I might check in again next week... but more likely I'll check in with you all when I get my permits. Wish me luck!