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.