Archive for the ‘The Great Outdoors’ Category

JMT Reflections

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

As I ready myself for my next travel adventure, I thought it best to reflect on my hike of the JMT before it becomes a more distant memory. For a complete and thorough account of our hike, tune in to the Trovert’s/Dr. Suuz trail journal and read the story in detail. I like to blog daily when I set about a new experience – sort of a journal or diary of my thoughts – but with no way to contact the outside world for several weeks, I slipped into living the experience and let the chronicling go. For my own sake, I am trying to remember what I felt during that time and record it for the record.

I learned that age is ever creeping up on me. In some ways, 200 miles on the JMT was harder than 2000 miles on the AT, and it is probably true that the AT did things to my body that had not healed and resurfaced as I walked through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I feel lucky that all my aches and pains were not severe enough to end my hike as they did to Dr. Suuz, but I pause to evaluate ever doing a long hike again.

There were differences in hiking the JMT and the AT. On the AT you could usually find civilization within a couple of days. If you needed food, equipment repair, healthcare, internet, phone coverage, or a bed and shower, they were not far away. On the other hand, the JMT is so remote from civilization that a satellite phone and helicopter is sometimes the only way to resolve an emergency. Some of the trail on the AT was harder to negotiate than the JMT, but the extreme altitude of the Sierra mountain passes leaves you gasping for oxygen with each step. The AT is mostly in the woods but the JMT climbs high above treeline and through sparse vegetation where the UV rays beats down relentlessly. I got one of the worst sunburns I have ever had.

I am forever grateful to the Troverts for their excellent planning of our trip. The logistics they meticulously devised allowed us to adjust for gradual altitude acclamation, resupply at reasonable intervals, and organize transportation. The JMT takes a lot of planning and the Troverts and Dr. Suuz worked many hours arranging all the details.

It may seem like I’m complaining about hardships of the trip, but I don’t want to give the impression that my hike was in any way a bad experience. I had a wonderful time. The hardships of a hike like this only add to the satisfaction and enjoyment of the adventure. Sure you work hard to reach that mountain pass, but the views are worth every bit of struggle to get there. Of course you are tired and sore at the end of the day, but it’s a good feeling to know you accomplished your goal. Naturally it’s uncomfortable to sit on a rock and eat your dinner out of a package, but to gaze out from your camp at a glacial lake on a high meadow surrounded by granite, towering peaks, makes it the best place you can imagine.

Muir Ranch

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

8/1/13 – 107 miles
I wrote this post three weeks ago and had no signal after that:

We made it to Muir Ranch. This trail is not easy. The grades may be better than a lot of places on the AT but they go on and on for a long time, combine that with thin air at 12,000 feet and you will get quite a workout!

The scenery through these mountain is so beautiful, that with each pass we climb and meadow we come to, all we can do is stare and say “Wow!”

We were originally planning to stay here for two day but the second half of our trip will be even more strenuous than the first and we will need every day to reach our next resupply.

There is still a lot of smoke in the area. For two days we have stayed ahead of the drifting grey cloud but it has caught us again and shrouded the mountains above. As we get further south, it should clear.

Last night we had quite a concern. A helicopter kept flying up the valley below where we were camped and dropping water into the woods where we would hike the next day. We found out later that a tree struck by lightning was burning and the helicopter and ground crew put it out this morning.

Good food here, showers, and a bed to sleep in. Tomorrow we will enter Kings Canyon NP. I’m not sure when I will get to post this.

Smoke

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

7/29/13 60 miles
In the morning we filled our bear-canisters with our supply boxes and packed wet tents from a heavy dew. Heavy tents and heavy food make for heavy packs so we set sight for a shorter day.

The walk was uneventful for most of the day. We climbed 11 miles up a gentle path, through a burned out and wind damaged forest, eventually reaching tall pines on a steep slope above 10,000 feet. The views were mostly obscured by smoke from a recent five that is contained but still smoldering. The smoke was constantly in our nostrils and clouded out everything past a couple hundred feet. We are supposed to be by the worst of it tomorrow.

Tonight we are camped at Duck Creek. It is a nice wooded campsite with a roaring river nearby and plenty of level sites for our four tents. So far we are the only ones here. Everyone is bundling in early – at this altitude it gets cold at night.

I have learned that the fire is not contained but we should be safe where we are going.

Reds Meadows

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

7/28/13 – 70 miles
Today we walked 13 miles, the longest day yet. It was tiring but tolerable because most of the afternoon into Reds Meadows was a gentle downhill.

We were afraid that all the good campsites at Reds would be gone so we decided to send our fastest hikers on ahead to secure a site while the rest could take their time. Deadeye and N were chosen to go on ahead of the group and they took off like scalded dogs. On the last five miles into the resort they hit a blistering 4 mph, taking only 1 hour, 15 minutes to cover the distance.

N tells the story of part of their high-speed walk: “I was trying to keep up with Deadeye and starting to get awful thirsty. I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t stop for water. Then I realized he was drinking out of his damn water bladder – he didn’t need to stop. I finaly got close enough to stop him so I could get a drink.”

They secured one of the last remaining sites and we all enjoyed hamburgers and showers before turning in. As usual everything at a backcountry resort is expensive – it cost $9 to take a shower.

1/4 Through

Saturday, July 27th, 2013