Aug 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm #1306975
In September 2012 Andrew F and I backpacked together the Sierra High Route (SHR) which uses short segments of the John Muir Trail (JMT) when going over Mather Pass and Muir Pass. While passing through, I told him about the three JMT hikes I had done with my family and he remarked that the JMT is way prettier than he imagined it and that he would like to backpack it too. Fast-forward into 2013, when my wife and I were planning our summer vacation with our kids. For different reasons we planned to go for only two weeks with our daughters into the John Muir Wilderness instead of our usual three weeks. All of a sudden I had a week of vacation to play with. I contacted Andrew and we tossed a couple of ideas around until I asked him what he thinks of doing the JMT in a week. Luckily I didn’t see his face, when I asked …
Although it sounded overly ambitious at first, we both felt it could be a cool trip. In May Andrew went to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Open and I went to the TGO in Scotland. We both did 30+ miles days, returned with more self-confidence and agreed on doing the JMT in a week.
Having done the JMT twice in three weeks and once in two weeks with my kids, I was mentally prepared for each and every pass. “Rushing” through this beautiful landscape was no issue at all – every time I walk the JMT, I see more and more beautiful sights. In addition it was a great trip down memory lane – so many places had memories attached, where my kids or my wife did something funny or caught a big fish or went for an ice-cold swim or …
This year we walked through several severe thunderstorms. Starting with Silver Pass, we got rained, hailed and thundered on during every pass crossing until Pinchot. Crossing Mather and Pinchot in a day in thunderstorms – after starting in LeConte Canyon and going up the Golden Stair Case in sunshine will stay for a long time with us. Going over Glen and Forester the next day after a two hour lunch break (including fishing, cleaning, cooking and eating the trout) at Rae Lakes will also be a great memory. Standing the next day on Mt. Whitney and watching the sunset was a glorious finish of the JMT. We decided to stay the night on Mt. Whitney to experience the sunrise the next morning – the burger at Whitney Portal could wait until then. The sunrise was absolutely fantastic and well worth the wait for the burger.
This was a very special trip for Andrew and me. We both stretched our limits and now feel comfortable with 30 miles days – day after day – even when they include over 12k ft combined elevation gain and loss on most of those days.
Going lightweight was essential to make this trip so enjoyable. We added a couple of gadgets (GPS, inReach, solar panel, SteriPen, fishing pole, camera) to our backpacks, which brought their baseweight up to almost 10 lbs. Our max weight including all consumables out of Muir Trail Ranch was 20 lbs (the heavy salami in our resupply was devoured at the first stop within less than three miles).
Only three years ago I could not imagine that anyone could possibly enjoy backpacking the JMT in a week. During the last three years I learned so much from other BPL members that I was able to reduce the weight in my backpack to the point where such a trip was not only possible, but a ton of fun.
Thousand Island Lake with Mt Ritter and Banner Peak
Marie Lake from Selden Pass
Andrew and Manfred on Mather Pass
Sunset on Mt. Whitney
Andrew during sunrise on Mt. Whitney
We did it – JMT in a Week
10.5 lbs at the end of the tripAug 26, 2013 at 5:44 pm #2018826
– -K.T.- –Participant
Superb. My hat's off to you two.Aug 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm #2018848
Kudos.Aug 26, 2013 at 9:36 pm #2018895
Thanks for being my JMT tour guide Manfred! This trip was lots of fun, particularly hiking with you. Sunrise & sunset from 14,500 ft on the top of Mt Whitney will stick with me for awhile. After doing Glen Pass & Forester Pass in the same day, I don't think I ever have to worry again about 30 miles in a day being difficult…Aug 27, 2013 at 6:24 am #2018956
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
Very cool. Impressive job, guys.Aug 27, 2013 at 12:33 pm #2019081
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Guys, that is very impressive. How about gear lists from you two?Aug 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm #2019160
My individual gear:
Food stuff sack…1.8
Zpacks cuben drybag pack liner…1.5
Katabatic Gear Alsek 22F quilt…21.6
3 3' pieces of triptease cord for quilt…0.3
Suluk46 24x74x1/8 foam pad…1.9
Regular NeoAir XLite…12.2
Kookabay inflatable pillow…1.4
TNF Triumph anorak…5.9
Montbell UL down inner parka…8.9
TNF Verto windshirt…2.8
REI polartec hat…2.0
Arcteryx Phase SL long underwear…3.6
Knee-high compression socks (for sleeping)…2.8
Spare injinji midweight toe socks…1.5
Ti wing Esbit stove + Ti windscreen…1.0
Loksak for Esbit tabs…0.4
Mini bic lighter + a few Tinder-Quiks…0.8
MSR Titan kettle 0.85L with cozy…4.4
Bandana (cut down)…1.0
TP in double bag for carrying out…0.4
JMT maps (printed double sided on 11×17 paper)…2.0
Highgear altimeter watch…2.5
1L Aquafina bottle…1.0
Swiss Army Classic…0.7
Camera in Loksak…7.0
Toiletries + repair kit + first aid kit + aqua mira…10.0
Total = 7 lb 11.9 oz
In addition to this, I carried Manfred's SMD Cuben Haven (~10 oz) which we shared for shelter, his Delorme inReach (~5 oz) and solar panel (~5 oz). The shared gear brought me up to about 9 lbs base weight. Manfred carried a single Bearikade for us to share, which worked fine since we only had a max of 4 days of food when leaving Muir Trail Ranch.
I only wore the UL Parka once, when we stayed on top of Whitney. I was warm the whole trip even during extended periods of hail and freezing rain. The 22F quilt was overkill every night except on top of Whitney.
I have to say, I'm thoroughly convinced of the merits of a Steripen now… Manfred used one for treating water, and he was able to carry much less water than I did for most of the trip. I already ordered one… the 3 oz weight is miniscule compared to the 1/2 liter of water I routinely carried around, waiting for my Aqua Mira drops to work.Aug 27, 2013 at 2:57 pm #2019161
I am totally with you on spending the night atop Whitney (as long as the weather cooperates). The sunset and sunrise are beyond belief. And if there is some moonlight the midnight views are amazing. I got up several times during the night just to look at the view.Aug 27, 2013 at 3:42 pm #2019181
here is our gear list
I created a column each for Andrew and myself and marked shared gear in red. Andrew listed his gear in the meantime directly in a post. May be he will add it also to the spreadsheet to see our gear side by side. As you can see my base weight was 9.5 lbs (Whitney Portal showed 10.5 lbs which included some trash). The total out of Muir Trail Ranch after our re-supply was 18 lbs (Their scale showed 20 lbs – as we carried some extra food like a salami for immediate consumption after leaving the ranch).
ManfredAug 31, 2013 at 8:01 pm #2020575
Thank you for posting the pictures and details from your week on the JMT. I did Glen and Forester in the same day while thru-hiking the JMT, but at my pace there was no time for fishing or a long lunch. Very impressive!Aug 31, 2013 at 11:14 pm #2020596
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks for posting the gear lists for your impressive trip.
Manfred, I have a general question. I added this year a button-down L/S sun shirt, similar to what you wore on your trip. I haven't had much of a chance to wear it out and see what layers I would pair with it. I see you took an Indie Hoody but no down or synthetic insulation or wind shirt. Did you use the Indie as a base under the sun shirt? Was this combination sufficient in camp at night?
I have all the ingredients (sun shirt, wool tees, wool or Cap4 Hoody, down jacket, wind shell, rain shells) but keep going in circles about my upper body layers. I hope you don't mind the question, just always curious to get good ideas about the gear and you two seemed to do a good job paring everything down to the essentials for this trip.
Thanks again for the trip report!Sep 1, 2013 at 1:40 am #2020610
Manfred and Andrew, congratulations on your trip. Big days! You've shown that you don't have to worry about every last gram as long as you are strong in the first place.
How did you get on with the Powerfilm solar charger. How long does it take to charge the two Eneloops? does it self reset after passing through shade? I'm wanting something to keep an iPhone with GPS mapping charged when away from wall supplies.
I did Forrester and Whitney same day, but was my only long day, racing the sinking sun as I climbed Whitney in order to get the sunset view.Sep 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm #2020750
John, I'll let Manfred answer your questions because he is the gadget expert… the only piece of electronics I brought was my headlamp.
I have all the ingredients too and wear different combos depending on the weather. Manfred wore his Indie over the the top of his L/S button-up during the mornings and evenings when it was cooler. I like nylon button-up sun shirts too, especially in mosquito season, but I prefer wool for longer trips to deal with the stink factor. On this trip I had a wool L/S tee base layer, a wind shirt, a down parka, and a rain coat. The only time I used the down parka was sleeping on top of Whitney. In my opinion you don't need much of a midlayer like an Indie or Cap4 hoody for the Sierra in the summer – a windshirt is totally sufficient for on-the-move insulation. There were a few times when we were stuck in all-day cold rain storms with periodic hail when I had on my base layer, wind shirt, and rain coat over that, and was plenty warm. I occasionally put on my fleece hat on long dowhills and could have put on my long underwear if I was still cold. Trading a traditional wool or fleece midlayer for a windshirt is a good way to save 5-6 ounces. However I will add back in something like a Cap4 hoody as the summer turns to fall to help with colder nights and due to the possibility of more severe winter weather.Sep 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm #2021172
I wore the hoodie over my shirt in the morning for the first 30+ minutes of hiking until I was warmed up. Then I would take it off most times. My ZPacks rain jacket doubles as rain jacket and was my third layer for when it rains and is cold. The only time I wore all three layers was on top of Mt. Whitney when we stayed the night. Otherwise it was most of the time just the shirt, in the mornings shirt + hoodie and during rain shirt + rain jacket. I left my down jacket at home because we didn't intend to sit around in camp. The system worked great for our hike.
I have used the PowerFilm AA+USB Charger the last four years on the JMT and other trips. On this JMT it powered the GPS (2 AA every day because we tracked our hike), the DeLorme inReach SE (via USB), SteriPen Freedom (via USB). Normally I would also power my camera (2 AA), but this time Andrew brought his. Under ideal conditions I get a set of AA charged in 3 hours. Going north to south and with shade on the batteries from time to time it is more like 5 hours. That is still good enough to give me most days 2 sets of AA batteries. Usually I charge just one set and use breaks (like lunch) to do "opportunistic" charging of the USB devices. I will put the panel in the brightest sunny spot direct at a slight angle to the sun and let one of the USB devices charge during the break. That has always worked for me – the longest so far was 5 weeks with the GPS running non-stop.
ManfredSep 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm #2022252
@dsherryLocale: Mi Upper Peninsula
Nice job knocking it out in a wk. What did you both do to start with that level of fitness? I run 20-25 miles/wk and still get pretty fatigued doing 20-25 mile days. Have yet to do 30 in a day, but it will happen.
Thanks for the inspiration.
DanaSep 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm #2022276
between six kids at home and work I don't have any time left for workouts/runs/etc. So the only thing I do for fitness is riding my bike 6 miles to work and back.
ManfredSep 6, 2013 at 8:25 am #2022390
Manfred, thanks for the info. The sCharger-5 seems to work well too, but it rarely gets a mention here.Sep 6, 2013 at 8:59 am #2022403
there are several alternatives out there. For example the sCharger-5 from Suntactics or the Nomad 7M from Goal Zero. All of them charge USB devices and are great alternatives for people who mainly want to charge their iPhone which needs a lot of power.
For me it is important to charge also AA batteries for my Garmin GPS and my Zebra headlamp – which these chargers don't. You could theoretically charge AA with those by using for example the Guide 10 Powerpack from Goal Zero, but then you add even more weight and cost.
The sCharger-5 is roughly twice the weight and twice the price of the PowerFilm AA+USB Charger. It is also "sturdy" and can't be folded up when not in use like the PowerFilm charger. All these reasons combined make me stick with PowerFilm (I'm using it for four years now).
ManfredSep 6, 2013 at 11:26 am #2022432
All good points, thanks.Sep 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm #2022443
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
"between six kids at home and work I don't have any time left for workouts/runs/etc. "
Going upstairs and downstairs doing laundry, mowing the lawns (one is a soccer field), mopping, vacuuming, etc all add up. My mental decline seems to improve my fitness ("Why did I come out to the storage shed?", go back to the house, remember, go out again for the item, etc). That, and a lot of our family activities are hikes, berry picking, skiing, etc.
My biggest win is when I have have a pre-scheduled conference call for which I can mostly be on mute – then I walk the dog on the beach, listen to the call on my earbuds or even ANR headphones, and get paid to exercise. The dog approves, too.Sep 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm #2022455
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
"My biggest win is when I have have a pre-scheduled conference call for which I can mostly be on mute – then I walk the dog on the beach, listen to the call on my earbuds or even ANR headphones, and get paid to exercise."
Dang, David, don't be giving away trade secrets. Somebody might read it an decided that those internet video camera thingies are a good thing.
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