John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt – Unsupported, Without Resupply
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Aug 23, 2006 at 1:35 am #1219384Cat JasinsBPL Member
Companion forum thread to:Aug 23, 2006 at 7:34 am #1361548mark henleyMember
I would be very interested in hearing more about Al’s training program to get ready for such a hike.Aug 23, 2006 at 8:37 am #1361556buzz burrellMember
Great pre-trip report! The documentation of gear was really helpful.
My partner Peter Bakwin and I popularized the sport of multi-day trail records when we established records on the Colorado Trail in 1999 and the JMT in 2000. Besides having fun, our intention was to spur others on to what’s possible … really glad it’s happenning! The sport is being moved forward, and now I’m learning a ton from everyone.
One strong recommendation: the JMT really does start at Whitney Portal. All trails start at trailheads … that’s why they’re called trailheads … not at some mark along the way. The original reason Mt Whitney summit was called the start was for marketing hype.
Have fun, BBAug 23, 2006 at 7:00 pm #1361588Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Note that in Al’s discussion of the trail that his definition of the trail route was based on both literature as well as fellow “competitors”. I quote,
“My route will be the most commonly accepted definition of the trail route from literature and anecdotal reports with extra weight given to opinions expressed by fellow competitors.”
Note the use of the words “extra weight given”. In other words he’s not so concerned with what the rest of us think, but rather than small group of people who are working on these record attempts.Aug 23, 2006 at 8:04 pm #1361592MarkBPL Member
“In other words he’s not so concerned with what the rest of us think, but rather than small group of people who are working on these record attempts.”
And rightly so. It sounds like quite a trip, Al. It’s really encouraging to hear these stories of regular Joes doing such amazing [irregular!] things. Thanks for sharing some insight. I especially like the bit about the clothing. I’m also leaning in the direction of minimizing layers: appropriate shirt, windshirt, and powerful insulation. It just keeps life so much simpler.
-MarkAug 24, 2006 at 12:45 pm #1361627
Al – As you correctly noted, your biggest vulnerability is going to be your body temperature when you attempt to take a nap. Your MB down inner jacket insulation layer is .8″ single layer and with all layers together you will have about 1″ around your torso. This will keep you in thermal balance only to a low temp of about 60F when you attempt to nap.
At minimum, you need to exchange your down jacket for something like the Phd Minimus or add a down vest that yields the same total vest/jacket loft as the Minimus. This will give you a single layer loft of about 1 1/2″ for thermal balance at a low of about 40F. The weight addition is an extra (12-7.8 = 4.2 oz). Using black for your external layer and sleeping during the day in potential sunlight will also give you an added safety margin.
Ideally you would exchange your down jacket for something like the Western Feathered Friends Helios. This will give you a single layer loft of about 2″ for thermal balance at about 20F. The weight addition is an extra (17.3-7.8 = 9.5 oz).
The jacket recommendations for napping also assume that you have insulation under your body when sitting or laying down (pack, forest duff, leaves, etc).Aug 25, 2006 at 5:31 am #1361663Bernard ShawMember
@be_here_nowearthlink-netLocale: Upstate New York
I heartil second this advice. Both in terms of possible life deeath survival in the occasion of a storm, wind, wet, and cold, and in the record attempt. Lack of proper sleep and rest will debilitate MORE than the very small increase in weight. If one computes how much more work will be done, vs the calories used up in keeping his body warm, this is another reason to go with your idea of more insulation. Good luck all.
EvanAug 25, 2006 at 2:58 pm #1361684Luke LudwigBPL Member
I agree with the above advice on needing more insulation. Al, I would recommend bringing some form of non-down insulation (such as a Cocoon Pullover, 9 oz) since you will not have a sleeping bag or shelter in case of emergency. Hypothermia happens,
LukeAug 26, 2006 at 4:47 am #1361713John S.BPL Member
Or you could stay with the down insulation and take along shelter in the form of an AMK Heatsheet for an emergency situation where shelter or heat (vapor barrier) is needed. Cut a hole in it and make a poncho. It will weigh 2-3 oz. You could trim it to any size and lower the weight. This simple addition will keep you at a SUL baseweight..and keep you from being SOL.Aug 26, 2006 at 7:54 am #1361718
John- You have most succinctly stated the objective – This simple addition will keep you at a SUL base weight and keep you from being SOL. For most hikers the Heatsheet is a viable safety item but Al is already carrying two items which seems to lessen the Heatsheet’s value for this situation.
1) He is carrying a WPB jacket /wind pants. They address the convection and moisture protection while taking his naps. 2) Also the AMK Heatsheet doesn’t provide any incremental IR thermal benefit since he already has greater than .75″ of conventional insulation with his down jacket.Aug 28, 2006 at 5:12 pm #1361851Al ShaverBPL Member
@al_t-tudeLocale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Thanks to all for support and suggestions. I am considering them all. I did decide to cut a .37″/9.4mm blue foam pad down to a 2.4oz hourglass shape to fit my torso for napping. I still may have to sleep during precious daylight to keep warm. Navigation at night is not a big problem, but psychologically it will be tough to have to run through the entire night.
Richard, You mention some interesting down products that I am not familiar with – will have to check into them. By the time I get to a jacket with the loft of the Helios, I’m within 1.1oz of my TNF Beeline 900, 900 fill sleeping bag which would be much warmer than the jacket. The only reason to use a jacket is so you can walk around and use your arms. For sleeping, a bag is much more efficient.
Buzz, I appreciate someone with your experience sharing his opinions. Yes, you and those who have followed you and Peter have inspired me to embrace the joy of moving swiftly along mountain trails. I’m having alot of fun with it.
I will speak with Reinhold re. starting at Whitney Portal as you do vs. starting at the summit as he does. He also chooses to take the shorter route (staying south of Hwy 120) at Tuolumne Meadows rather than the “traditional” longer route that Kevin Sawchuk uses.
Although competing on the Whitney Main Trail before starting the JMT is contrived and requires backtracking the first 1.9 miles from the summit, it is a far more convienient starting point and you supported style guys seem to have agreed on it as your standard. If I start at the portal and do well, perhaps it will cast a vote for both styles competing on the same route.Sep 2, 2006 at 10:35 pm #1362270greg deglerMember
good luck to you.
Dixville Notch, NHSep 3, 2006 at 6:35 pm #1362301
Al-The problem with carrying a down sleeping bag is that you would have to carry shelter to keep it dry where as your WB jacket would protect a down jacket while napping. You could experience napping temperatures as low as 20F on your record attempt and need approximately 2” of torso insulation.
For a 1.2 oz weight decrease from your current insulation, take a Nunatak SkahaPlus reviewed at http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/nunatak_skahaplus_spotlite_review.html in place of your existing jacket and balaclava insulation.
Point them to your BPL article and tell them about the potential publicity from a successful record attempt. They should provide you this garment at little or no cost.Sep 3, 2006 at 11:13 pm #1362309Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
O.K so trails start at at trailheads and maybe now the John Muir Trail starts at the Whitney Portal but I don’t agree that it used to be that way. I believe that the marketing hype is more correct than than where the trailhead is. There was a time when Whitney Portal road was not there; then where did it end? John Muir made the trail and he made it end on the top of Whitney. So what Al Shaver is realy doing is running the “original” trail.
I also agree that for the spirt of breaking a reacord in the wildernes, that it be done in it’s original fashion, not just what it says on a map because there is a road there now and that’s where the trailhead starts.
Most trails have come about only after the road was put in. Just becuase they couldn’t make the road go all the way up the mountain doesn’t mean the entire trail should be changed from it.
Oh yeah, GOOOOO AL… and good luck!!!Sep 13, 2006 at 12:43 pm #1362959R KSpectator
@oiboyroiLocale: South West US
Any new updates?Sep 20, 2006 at 11:13 pm #1363383Paul TreeMember
Can someone check on this guy and give us an update? Hope he’s OK, there was a spot of cold weather the last day or so if I remember…Sep 21, 2006 at 5:53 am #1363392Christopher PleskoMember
@pivvayLocale: Rocky Mountains
Hope he’s doing great. I have a feeling if he’s had time to contact anyone it’s likely just his family/close friends. They may not know to post an update here.Sep 21, 2006 at 9:27 am #1363403John BarnhardtBPL Member
Hi all. My wife and I were lucky enough to hike the JMT from Sept 4-17 and encountered Al on 2 occasions. Once as he was coming up Muir Pass (we were going North to South, his itinerary is South to North) looking *very* strong, and then again as we were departing Lone Pine on a bus the morning of Sept 18. There was indeed some very windy and cold weather in the Sierras around the 14th or 15th; consequently Al had modified his plan to use the first JMT run (on which we encountered him – I believe he went out at Tuolomne Meadows) as further training, and to begin the actual record attempt some time in the next few days (if he hasn’t already started).
We only talked to him for a few minutes, but it sounded like all of his gear selections and such worked out well. He was quite jovial and seemed ready to hit the trail again, even more fit and familiar with the trail.
Just to reaffirm, this is all unofficial and unverified information, but it is based on our direct encounters with him over the last 2 weeks.
Best of luck Al,
-John & LizSep 21, 2006 at 10:37 am #1363411
My uncle just sent me this dispatch from the High Sierra.
Greetings to all from John Muir’s “Range of Light.” I just completed 160 mile recon run/hike from Whitney Portal to Red’s Meadow (near Mammoth Lakes)in 7 days (+1 rest day soaking sprained ankle in Woods Creek.) My last day, winds hit 90+ mph on ridgelines and I woke up to light snow and 23 degrees. My Camelbak was an Accelerade Slurpee. I was lucky that was my last day. Temps are back up to 32low/60high & sunny at 8,000 ft. for the next 10 days. That’s going to put me @ low to mid teens @ 12,000-foot passes at night, not counting wind chill. I’m upgrading to GTX pants, midweight thermal pants & adding GoLite Zip-neck T to get me over the passes. Fortunately my 14,000′, 14,500’& 13,000′ high points will all be done before the first nightfall. I’m also adding trekking poles to get me up passes when I’m exhausted & to push through the sandy sections.
Was flagged down by “Flyin’ Brian” Robinson, his wife Sophie, “Mrs. Flyin’ Brian” Robinson & a friend on the trail. He rightfully criticized me for running w/a 30 lb. pack so close to event date (start 9/20.) I told him that it’s hard to taper when you don’t have anything to taper from. I’ve been sewing on gear & handling logistics for the last 8 weeks rather than training–oops! I did drop from 183 to 175 lbs. on recon hike which leaves me 10-12 lbs. overweight. I’m dining on protein and fats this week to stimulate production of carbohydrate burning enzymes. (I’m working on a can of Spam & a kosher pickle in the Lembert Dome parking lot @ Tuolumne Meadows as I write this.) The last day and a half I will switch to heavy doses of complex carbs to build ATP & glycogen in muscles & liver.
Since I park car at end of hikes & bus south to Lone Pine & hitchhike to Whitney Portal, I leave a cache @ the Portal. Last time I checked it, critters had broken into bags but found no food. My 2 Ersacks (10 oz modified Ursack Hybrids–half the weight of the product as delivered) worked fine. Had no bear or Ranger encounters on recon trip. I lost the trail many times due to floods & rockfall. It’s going to be a nightmare staying on route by headlamp w/no moon for 10-1/2 hrs per day.
I’ve decided to take the traditional longer northern route thru Tuolumne Meadows & start the clock @ Whitney Portal (10.4 miles & 6100′ below the JMT start @ Whitney Summit) based on suggestions from my resupplied, supported, caffeinated brethren (Kevin Sawchuk, Buzz Burrell & Brian Robinson) to attempt to unify the route for the 2 classes of competition.
Un-resupplied record holder Reinhold Metzger (5 days 7 hours Whitney Summit to Yosemite Valley) left me a good luck note on the Whitney Summit hut. Several parties recognized me from the BPL article & had their pictures taken with me. Only in America can you be famous for doing nothing. I’m the Paris Hilton of the wilderness! I’m thinking of quitting this trail running thing, getting a personal assistant, a publicist and a table @ Spago’s!
I received many comments about my 10 day food load/34 lb recon pack (Go-Lite Gust.) It looked massive to me but they could tell I was going UL. Then I looked at the 55 lb tumors perched on their backs, towering above their heads & realized I am making progress.
I’m mainling ibuprofen for my ankle & it doesn’t seem to be hurting much. Hopefully when I go beyond fatigue on those 40-50 mile days it won’t blow up.
Hope all is well w/everyone back home. Thanks so much for all of your suggestions & support! See you on the other side.
Cheers, AlSep 21, 2006 at 9:03 pm #1363447Paul TreeMember
They seem to have a sporty model.
I have been loathe to go to the trail runners because of my poor ankles, but was considering something like these..Sep 25, 2006 at 12:21 pm #1363603
My brother Al asked me to pass this information on to you. He’ll provide details and impressions later.
Attempt #1: Al began from Whitney Portal on Wed. 9/20 at 11:30 am, well-rested. At the trail junction, Al stashed his stuff and headed up the 2-mile trail to the summit. Was pleased to make the summit in 4 hr 28 min. The night before, winds at summit had probably been about 100 mph, but Wed. was “blazing and beautiful.” Seemed strange that no on else was up there. On way back down, he noticed large, black birds cawing overhead. Found his food spread around, half his jerky gone and holes pecked in his Accelerade bags. Stunned and discouraged, but not defeated, he descended to Whitney Portal, spent the night there, and found a ride down to Lone Pine, where he resupplied and treated athlete’s foot that was making toe-taping for blister prevention difficult.
Attempt #2: Al began again from Whitney Portal on Sat. 9/23. At mile 7 he developed a blister bad enough to turn him around. He’s now holding at Whitney Portal and will advise me of his next move.
Al and I are both very grateful for your interest and encouragement and the good thoughts you are sending his way.
Janet, Al’s SisterSep 25, 2006 at 6:20 pm #1363641Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
Oh, most excellent to hear the status of Mr. Shaver. Not so excellent to hear that things aren’t going well. I hope there’ll be enough of a window to make this happen. It’s an exciting attempt he’s after.Sep 27, 2006 at 9:12 am #1363740Colleen ClemensMember
@tarbubbleLocale: dirtville, CA
Aaron – just FYI, not trying to be a snot. Muir did not design or lay out the Muir Trail. i’m not at all certain that he ever walked that exact route in one go. the route was laid out and surveyed by Theodore Solomons. funding was obtained in 1915, a year after Muir’s death, and was completed in 1938 (the 100th anniversary of Muir’s birth). ok, i’m done being a nerd now (yeah, right).Sep 27, 2006 at 10:16 am #1363748Aaron SorensenBPL Member
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
I remember hearing something about that, but I thought it was just Yosemite. I am planning on doing this same attempt Al is next year. I’m still not sure if I’ll go for the 5 day 7 hour record, but I will be putting the word out just in case once my list of stuff is complete, (hopefully it will be Al’s record). I’m still waiting on a pair of Reed pants for Christmas.
I was planning on taking a day to go up Whitney with my brother and start the following morning, but now starting at the Portal sounds like the better way from what everyone is saying.Sep 27, 2006 at 8:25 pm #1363780
Al called in today to update us all.
Attempt #3: After giving his blister 4 days to heal (on the “speed-heal plan”), Al plans to begin his run again tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 28. The blister skin has reattached to the tissue underneath it, so with a different sock combination and his taping system he hopes he can go the distance. He plans to emerge from his journey on Tuesday. As you go to bed at night, please send my brother a good thought. He’ll be running ridges and traversing valleys by headlamp while we sleep. And Aaron, over the phone I read your comment to Al, the one saying that you hope to be running to beat Al’s record. He asked me to tell you that your comment will inspire him along the way to set that record. Thanks again to all of you in the “Fellowship of the High Sierra.”
Janet, Al’s sister
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