Sep 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm #1231336
I completed my JMT hike earlier this month. It took me 14 days between the 23rd of August and the 5th of September. I wanted do this hike for a while as I heard time and time again that this is one of the "must do" trails. That, and I got tired of westerners posting trip reports with pics of pristine lakes surrounded by 10-12 thousand footers. So I had to see it myself.
I went alone. I needed to take a long trip by myself and this seemed to be the perfect getaway as I have done trails of similar length, but not in a quite a while.
I got to San Fran planning to stay a night and see more of the city ( I had been there once before about 7 years ago). When I arrived after a long plane flight it took me me all of about an hour on the BART to decide I had enough of cities and continued on to Merced. I arrived at about 8-9:00 long after the YARTS bus stopped running. I knew this and its why I planned to stay the night at San Fran but the city switched on my 'fight or flight" response and since there was no one or thing to fight I chose flight. Ok, I was really eager to start the trip and I just wanted to go- and get as close as I could. Damn the details like bus schedules I needed to go. Luckily I meet someone who was also trying to get to Yosemite and agreed to split a Motel room and cab fare so it worked out for both of us.
So that morning we took the YARTS and I got to Yosemite around 10:00, I think. I got a permit and rented a canister. The permit was good as far as Little Yosemite Valley the first night and on to Whitney after that. This worked out as I was too tired to go much further after lugging a weeks worth of food up from Yosemite Valley in the dry heat. I also had to climb Half dome after I made camp. That was my first big view of the trip and well worth the extra effort. I also got to see a brown bear cub on the way up!
Well, so started my trip. It took me a few days ( more like 4-5 ) to get back in trail shape and get used to the really hot dry dusty environment as well as the daily camp/hike routine.
Ill spare you a 14 day play by play. But needless to say I couldnt be more glad I was able to do this trail and encourage anyone who is thinking about it to go ahead and do it! Sure, as always some days were tough and lonely ( it can be really lonely out west!) but I really needed this trip.
Now let me give the run down on my gear performance.
pack- MLD Zip. I knew I was pushing it with this pack but its what I had and I made it work. I stuffed my clothes behind the canister to keep the canister from laying directly against my spine and this worked out alright but I think a pack with a frame would be a better choice both because I carried a lot of food ( I only had 1 resupply at VVR) and because I think a frame would help keep the canister off the back. I fact I saw some Luxury lites and they looked sweet for canister carries. I also wish I still had my BPL Arctic pack -it would have been perfect maybe time to get another one?
shelter- Gatewood cape with cheapo mosquito netting. Its easy to see why the Gatwood will become or is an UL classic. I used it once in the rain with hail -the only time it rained the whole trip and it worked as you would expect a poncho to work but I dint really need to take off the lines. But, Once again I missed my bivy/tarp combo. I thought I would like leaving the bivy at home but 2 things came up. One, I found that in most places on the JMT the mosquitoes were few or nonexistent but the ants in some places were just super annoying! You see ants at home may crawl on you on the way to somewhere else- and its a 'Ill leave you alone/you leave me alone" thing. But in the Sierra the ants crawl all over you. one even found it necessary to bite my lip. This could be avoided with the Serenity shelter though. Two, at the end of the trip it got colder and windy at night. I dont know if it was the altitude or the time of year but a bivy would have blocked the wind and helped me stay warmer. Also I would have loved the option of sleeping under the stars bug free and protected by the wind in a bivy as it didnt rain a single night the whole trip. Its also nice not to have to set up anything and just throw a bivy on the ground and go to sleep. But all that said the Gatewood is the best poncho tarp out there.
Clothing- I was going to wear a Patty merino wool t-shirt but found an old unused supplex nylon ls button up shirt in the closet that I never wore. I think it was a good decision as its really easy to get burnt out there. In fact I got a nasty burn on the nape of my neck where i forgot to put sun block on. The supplex nylon is also wind resistant so I didnt need to bring my wind shirt though it was used as an insulating layer but a warmer bag would have been a better choice. everything else I brought worked out fine -except that I should have brought a warmer bag. That or a bivy to block the wind its hard to know what would have been better.
Cooking- The Caldera stove is my stove of choice bar none. Its so reliable and beyond any stove setup out there. For this trip I got the gram cracker because it would be easier to carry a weeks worth of Esbit than a container of alcohol. I couldnt be more happy with the Caldera/gram Cracker. It was faster and easier than with the alcohol stove.
Now for some pics, I purposefully cut down on the number of pics I took on this trip because sometimes I take so many pics that it feels like I experienced the whole trip through a camera lens. I didnt want that to happen this time and it didnt, still 14 days gets a lot of pics so I cant show them all here. I will eventually get them on Phanefare so people can see them all as well as other trips of mine.Sep 28, 2008 at 6:08 pm #1452565
Congrats on a hike of a lifetime… I too did it in 14 days and resuplied at Lake Thomas Edison. I really,really want to do it again. I am sure you are very happy with what you did!!!!!!! We need pictures!!!!!Sep 28, 2008 at 6:10 pm #1452566
Its hard to pick which ones to show but here are the pics:
view from half dome
Cathedral lakes- the perfect spot for condensation!
Lower Catheral lakes
Lyell ascending Donahue
Me on Donahue Pass
Ansel Adams Wilderness
Thousand Isand Lake
Silver pass beach
Silver pass camp
Kings Canyon after rain
meadow with Hermit dome
Me in the Muir hut
view from Glen pass
After forester- the last section!
Me on Whitney
from Whitney looking twords Lone Pine
Sep 28, 2008 at 6:39 pm #1452572
@beemancronLocale: Southwest US
You picked the best time of the year to go on your JMT trip. :)
I hiked the JMT in 14 days in July. Lots more mosquitos!. IMO 14 days is the minimum time frame to do this trip and enjoy it. Next time I will take 3 weeks to get in some side trips.
Looking forward to some pics of your trip.
We can compare photos from my collection:
The BeemanSep 28, 2008 at 7:39 pm #1452577
Yes I felt that I needed 14 days to enjoy just one lake!
I left out the fact that I didnt care for the clock hanging over my head and always having to put in the miles. I actually had 16 days to do this trip but I put in some good miles some days because I got worried I MIGHT not finish in time. Its best to take your time there if you can!Sep 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm #1452583
Great pictures, brings back awesome memories. Evolution Valley and LaConte Canyon were some of my highlites- how about you? You should be remembering that hike for months to come.Sep 28, 2008 at 8:21 pm #1452587
Its hard to pick a favorite. I really liked the meadows and the lakes because there are so few large meadows where I am. This was also the first time I was able to experience any real altitude. Its so different out there, I told someone before that out west everything is big, grand and open and home is more intimate, thick, lush. Both beautiful in different ways.Sep 28, 2008 at 9:31 pm #1452603
@joshuaLocale: Santa Cruz,Ca
Great trip. I'd like to do this one next year.
JoshSep 29, 2008 at 6:07 am #1452625
@jkrew81Locale: White Mtns
great writeup, thanks for all of the info and feedback for my trip there next year Brian. Always great to get perspective from someone familiar with the terrain you are used to.Sep 29, 2008 at 9:06 am #1452639
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Great photos….thanks for posting them up.
Last year, I did the High Sierra trail from Sequoia to Mt. Whitney and would love to do the JMT.
Thank you for showing me the highlights of the parts that I have yet to do.
With all that food, how much weight were you carrying?
Do you recommend doing the JMT with 1 or 2 resupplies?
You said that you were a bit cold…what where the night time temperatures like and what quilt or bag were you using?
-TonySep 29, 2008 at 2:37 pm #1452691
I did not get to weigh my full pack but I would say I was carrying about 30 lbs at start. I have always had a problem with food because I lose my appetite and am a picky eater. I usually grab high calorie high protein foods like instant potatoes and a lot of jerky. I tend to like non-cook foods best as I get lazy at the end of the day and dont want to cook. I usually just end up boiling water for some hot chocolate ( I dont drink coffee or caffeine in general ).
I only sent one resupply package but I supplemented it by buying foods at Toulumne, VVR, and the hiker boxes.The Muir ranch hiker boxes had so much good stuff I could have skipped VVR and got better foods for free! So I would say resupply depends on whether you want to avoid civilization as much as possible or if you have a special diet with foods that are harder to find at small stores as well as keeping your pack weight low by carrying less!
Nighttime temps -I would guess- were in the high 30's with a few nights that may have dipped to freezing. Thats at the last half of the trip where I tended to camp around 9,000 – 10,000 feet or more. And it was early Sept. That would probably include wind chill.
I used a MS wisp 30 degree bag that I modified into a quilt. I would call it a 40 degree quilt. I wore a MB alpine light down jacket on colder nights along with poly bottoms, wind shirt, and a balaclava. I was warm and never in danger but I was not always that comfy. I really think a bivy or an enclosed tent would have made a big difference.
ThanksSep 30, 2008 at 9:04 am #1452768
@valsharLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
30 lbs sounds great to me.
Last year, when I did the High Sierra Trail to Whitney, I had food for a week & a large bear vault, I was carrying 36 lbs!
Really appreciate your sharing your photos and experience, which helps me figure out when too light becomes being too cold at night. :)
What is the Muir Ranch hiker boxes?
Free food that people leave for thru hiker?
-TonySep 30, 2008 at 10:15 am #1452776
.Sep 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm #1452790
Tony the hiker boxes are food that other hikers left because they were carrying too much. I have never hiked on the JMT but the stuff that ends in the boxes on the AT is hilarious. I once got a liter bottle of DR Bronners out of a box at the NOC. Someone had to think they were going to carry one bottle of soap all the way to Maine.Sep 30, 2008 at 3:17 pm #1452797
I did the JMT in 2006 and had a great time at VVR-Lake Thomas Edison. I was able to get sunblock and Essbits out of the hikers box . Why does that resort have a bad reputation? I had a positive time there.Oct 1, 2008 at 2:54 pm #1452913
I don't know Jay but that is where I am planning to resupply (VVR). I absolutely refuse to pay $50 for someone to hold a box for me (MTR).Oct 1, 2008 at 4:30 pm #1452920
Hey Jessie, I had a positive time at VVR. I had one zero day there. I think the VVR is perfect to resuply-for me it took 6 days to get there so that was 12-15 lbs of food. Then resuplied for the remaining miles- another 12-15 lbs of food. For me and my appatite it worked great-plus I filled up burgers, pies, beers and more food. GOODLUCK with your JMT hike. I had one the best times in my life on that trail!!!!!!Oct 2, 2008 at 8:01 pm #1453072
I resupplied at VVR and I liked it. IMO, it will be cheaper to resupply at MTR *if* all you need is a resupply. If you stop at VVR, it'll probably be $40+ in ferry/mail fees alone. Unless you resupply at the store and don't use the ferry. Then there is the food…..
I'll probably stay there again because I like the atmosphere, but if I wanted a quick cheap resupply, I would use MTR. MTR also has hot springs close by. And they do more than just hold your package. The have to pack them in by mule. Well worth it, IMO.Oct 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm #1453078
> I fact I saw some Luxury lites and they looked sweet for canister carries
Hey! I was doing the JMT the same time as you….not sure if one of the Luxury Lites you saw was mine…..attaching a picture below. You're right….it is fantastic for strapping your bear canister to. I have the Bearikade Expedition and it fits perfectly. You can see it on the bottom of the stack. Also….thanks for the kind words about the Caldera!
Rand :-)Oct 3, 2008 at 4:17 am #1453090
Ok I guess I may need to re-evaluate things a bit…Oct 3, 2008 at 8:15 am #1453101
My son and I did it nobo last year stopping at MTR for re-supply. We appreciated very much the warm reception received when pulling in to pick up our box near the end of the day. It is my understanding that to have access to the hiker boxes you must have arranged to pick up your own box first. Our appetite changed quite a bit after a week on the trail so we were happy to be able to exchange a bunch of our food for hiker box stuff. We were attended to by Pat and she graciously provided us both with a very generous portion of meatloaf from the guest menu for the folks staying at the ranch. Additionally the hot springs were an indescribable reward for our weary legs. I am planning on doing this again in 09 and will again ship our mid-hike pick-up to MTR.Oct 4, 2008 at 8:24 pm #1453281
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
As a fellow easterner I'm jealous, jealous, jealous. Sounds like a great trip, and I enjoyed the photos.Oct 4, 2008 at 8:25 pm #1453282
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
That's a great set of photos too! Just makes me more jealous of you folks.Oct 4, 2008 at 11:01 pm #1453293
I saw 2 people together with Luxury lites at Reds Meadow when I first got there. I didnt get a good look at them. I took a close look at the frames but no one was there. Then I was distracted by beer and double cheeseburgers! Too bad they cost so much, but I see they are now selling the frame separate and that would keep the cost down if you MYOG a pack bag.
My Caldera cone is awesome, Thanks!
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