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Mount Whitney to Forester Pass - JMT - 4 members in 7 triplogs have rated this an average 4.8 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Aug 19 2018
LARichardson73
avatar

 Routes 5
 Photos 118
 Triplogs 14

48 male
 Joined May 18 2009
 Phoenix, AZ.
John Muir Trail, CA 
John Muir Trail, CA
 
Backpack avatar Aug 19 2018
LARichardson73
Backpack212.00 Miles 46,000 AEG
Backpack212.00 Miles20 Days         
46,000 ft AEG35 LBS Pack
 no routes
1st trip
Hiked the John Muir Trail, heading southbound, from Tuolumne Meadows to Whitney Portal. Including a climb over Kearsarge Pass for resupply, the total distance was apx. 212 miles. I went solo, but can't really say that I was alone. I met a lot of cool people on the trail.

The smoke from the Ferguson fire was somewhat of an issue, but not enough to really affect progress on the trail. You will notice the smoke in some of the pictures. Once I got south of Vermillion Valley Resort, it was pretty much completely clear.

One of the aforementioned cool people was a gentleman from Cave Creek. It was great to meet someone who was familiar with our local trails. We talked about how important a resource HAZ is for us AZ residents.

It was a great experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who can free up a few weeks.
_____________________
Aug 04 2016
Mudhole
avatar

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, CA 
Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, CA
 
Backpack avatar Aug 04 2016
Mudhole
Backpack51.40 Miles 13,045 AEG
Backpack51.40 Miles5 Days   6 Hrs      
13,045 ft AEG34 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
A little voyage my wife and I took southbound from Onion Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney in California. 48 total miles covered, most of that following the John Muir Trail to its southern terminus.

This was the second southbound journey for my wife and I, traveling from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, conquering the southern end of the John Muir Trail at the top of Mt. Whitney. We hiked for 48 total miles over 6 days which included the entrance in from Onion Valley, Kearsarge Pass, Forester Pass, summiting Mt. Whitney, and also the exit to Whitney Portal.

This was our second thru-hike of the JMT.
Culture
Culture
HAZ Food
_____________________
"Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clean away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." - John Muir
2 archives
Jul 23 2015
John9L
avatar

 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,294
 Triplogs 1,639

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
JMT - Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadow, CA 
JMT - Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadow, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jul 23 2015
John9L
Backpack68.12 Miles 15,858 AEG
Backpack68.12 Miles5 Days         
15,858 ft AEG
 
1st trip
The John Muir Trail is finally complete! This was one of the hardest & most satisfying accomplishments of my life! The following is a day by day triplog of the southern section of trail followed by my final thoughts.

7-23-2015 - 8.8 miles, 2,691 AEG - Onion Valley to Bubbs Creek
After spending the night in a hotel in Barstow we drove to Lone Pine and picked up our permits and then drove up to Horseshoe Meadow where we were to meet our shuttle driver at 11am. To make a long story short he was over two hours late! He ultimately got us to Onion Valley and we started hiking around 2:40pm which was much later than originally planned.

The hike up to Kearsarge Pass took a lot of effort. We had no time to acclimate ahead of time and my stomach was upset after the long shuttle ride. We hiked up the trail at a steady pace and took several breaks and ultimately reached the pass. The weather was cool and pleasant with overcast but little chance of rain. From Kearsarge Pass we quickly dropped down and connected onto the John Muir Trail above Bubbs Creek. We hiked southbound and selected a campsite in Vidette Meadow (9,600 ft) that included a fire ring and a bear locker. We had a fire and enjoyed dinner and then turned in for the night. I slept poorly that night. I assumed it was from the elevation. I'll have a hard time sleeping the next two nights as well.

7-24-2015 - 13.2 miles, 3,768 AEG - Bubbs Creek to Tyndall Creek
We started hiking around 8:30am and knew we were in for a big day. We had to cross Forester Pass at 13,200 ft. The trail is in great condition and made steady progress up hill. We took our time and enjoyed the views along the way. It's so beautiful here we caught ourselves oohing and awing! We also chatted it up with a few other backpackers and met a couple from Mesa and a solo hiker from Tucson.

We continued the hike as we neared Forester Pass. You can't see it until you're about a mile below. The final stretch to the pass was a real grind especially from my lack of sleep. We took a break at the top and talked to more hikers. I've always enjoyed the camaraderie along the JMT. After our break we made the steep descent down the south side. The trail eventually leveled off and we cruised the next few miles to Tyndall Creek where we selected a site next to a small stream that included another bear locker nearby. Tonight we'll be camping at 11,000 ft so no fires. We both turned in around 9am. I had another night of poor sleep due to the elevation.

7-25-2015 - 11 miles, 2,223 AEG - Tyndall Creek to Guitar Lake
We have a relatively mild day planned. We took our time getting ready in the morning and hit the trail somewhat late for us. The going was fairly easy as we climbed to Bighorn Plateau. This is another sweet area with epic views! We caught a few glimpses of Mount Whitney and it looked intimidating and far away.

We continued hiking and saw several other groups. Some of them we saw the day before. Before long we arrived at Crabtree Meadow and headed east towards Mount Whitney. We took a break near FOTG's campsite where we ate lunch and filtered water. We were going to camp here but it was early in the day so we continued an additional two miles to Guitar Lake. This put us closer to Whitney and at a higher elevation of 11,500 ft. The negative is we're above tree line so no shade. We both turned in fairly early. Our plan was to day hike Mount Whitney starting at 6:30am the following morning. I had another night of lack of sleep. The summit was going to be tough!

7-26-2015 - 19.1 miles, 4,067 AEG - Guitar Lake to Rock Creek with Mount Whitney
I slogged out of my tent a little before 6am and felt crummy from not sleeping. I know it's the elevation. We both organized our day pack and started hiking around 6:15am. The skies were clear and it was chilly. I wore a mid layer and a beanie. I wish I had gloves.

We made steady progress as we hiked up the trail. Our day packs felt so light it was like hiking with nothing. This made a big difference as we ascended towards Trails Crest at 13,500 ft. We much effort we reached the pass. From there we had 1.9 miles and 1,000 ft of gain. Our pace was slow but consistent and we caught glimpses of the summit. It looked so far away as it teased us. My journey here has taken over two years and my goal was in sight. I had to exit the trail early the past two years due to injury. There is no way I'm turning around even though I feel crummy. I continued on and made the final push to the summit. Suddenly the summit hut was right in front of me and I knew I finally completed my journey! My eyes swelled and tears of joy ran down my face. I was elated to have finally completed the John Muir Trail! I composed myself and met Chumley on the summit. He greeted me with a handshake and congratulations. I was a bit groggy from lack of sleep and the elevation of 14,500 ft. We enjoyed the views, took pics and signed the register. After about 30 minutes we started our return to Guitar Lake. We flew down the trail and were back to camp around noon.

We both tried to nap but it didn't go well. The sun was beating down on us and it was way too hot to sleep. We decided to pack up and head back to Crabtree where we would be leaving the JMT and heading south on the PCT for a few miles. We took a break at the junction and then continued south. We crossed Goyut Pass and then dropped down to Rock Creek where we selected a wonderful campsite next to a creek. We had another bear locker and were camping at 9,600 ft so we could have a fire.

We got camp set up and started our fire. A few minutes later we were visited by the ranger. She was really nice and we chatted for a few minutes. She asked to see our permit just before heading out. I'm honestly glad to have my permit checked. Afterward we ate dinner and turned in around 9pm. I'm in for a good nights rest. The lower elevation helped a lot!

7-27-2015 - 16 miles, 2,888 AEG - Rock Creek to Horseshoe Meadow
We discussed our options and decided to hike all the way out back to the jeep. We had about 16 miles and had to go over New Army Pass. The first few miles had a mild gain as we climbed out of Rock Creek and left the PCT and continued east for the pass. We passed a meadow with a stunning view of Mount Langley and Cirque Peak. The Sierras are just breathtaking and never get old!

The climb over New Army Pass took a lot of work! We talked about going over Army Pass but I opted to take New Army Pass because that's the route I had loaded. The climb was a real grind but was worth it! The views are stunning of Cottonwood Lakes! After our break we made the very steep descent down New Army Pass. The trail eventually levels off as you pass High Lake then Long Lake then Cottonwood Lakes 2 and then 1. The last few miles to the jeep were exhausting and thankfully downhill for the most part.

We arrived to the jeep around 4pm and I was so happy taking off my backpack. I then go to open the jeep and find the battery is dead. I was so exhausted I wanted to freak out! Chumley kept his cool and asked some campers for a jump. It took a few minutes but ultimately we got the jeep started and were fine thereafter. We stopped in Lone Pine for Mexican food and then returned to Phoenix arriving home a little after 1am. The trip was over what an experience!


Final Notes
I took way too much food on all three of my treks. I could have saved several pounds of weight.

Hiking the trail solo on my first trek was nice but I enjoyed having company on my next two trips. Having someone along for the ride helped keep things fun and fresh. It also helped on all the climbing up difficult passes.

The best way to hike the JMT is to just wing it. Don't come up with a specific itinerary. Try to figure out how many miles you need to average each day and then go for it. Ideally camp low and cross the passes in the morning. Line yourself up each day.

The JMT is a picturesque place and has a romantic appeal to many people. It's important to realize you are going to work your ass off on this trek! The passes are no joke and they keep coming at you. There is no way to cheat this trail. You earn every mile and every foot of elevation gain.

I owe thanks to many people on this. Thanks to Keepmoving for originally inspiring me to complete this based on his triplog from August 2012. [ photoset ] . He also answered several PMs with my numerous questions about the trek. Thanks to BiFrost for going with me last year. I'm sorry Karl you didn't join me this year. This trek came together the last few weeks. Thanks to FOTG for answering questions on the south side of the trail. You're triplog also inspired me [ photoset ] . It was comforting knowing we were following your footsteps. Special thanks to Chumley. He shuttled me two years ago on my initial trek. He also completed the final stretch and greeted me on the summit with a congratulations! It was a special moment for me and I'm glad you were there to share the experience with.

Completing the John Muir Trail is the highlight of my life! I faced much adversity after leaving the trail injured the two previous summers. I persevered and ultimately completed it! Now I need to pick my next obsession.
Flora
Flora
Foxtail Pine
_____________________
2 archives
Jul 23 2015
chumley
avatar

 Guides 83
 Routes 692
 Photos 16,106
 Triplogs 1,617

48 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadow, CA 
Onion Valley to Horseshoe Meadow, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jul 23 2015
chumley
Backpack71.45 Miles 16,439 AEG
Backpack71.45 Miles5 Days         
16,439 ft AEG37 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
About two weeks ago, 9L told me that by way of cancellation he had scored a last minute permit to finish his quest to complete the JMT via Onion Valley. I am fortunate enough to have a job with enough flexibility that planning a weeklong vacation only a week ahead of time isn't that big of a deal. With no other "major" hikes planned for the summer, I decided to take him up on the offer to join him on this trip in the Sierra -- a destination that is really tough for me to say no to.

Despite the excitement and anticipation, I was somewhat apprehensive about this trip. John had estimated about 65 miles and set aside 6 days, but wanted to finish in 4 or 5. All of those numbers are way out of my comfort zone. But I got all my gear together and did my best to keep my pack weight down and plan meals smartly.

It all turned out ok in the end. The 36 miles in the last 2 days wore on me and isn't something I would choose to repeat on purpose. I prefer some more downtime between destinations rather than just getting from point a to point b, sleep, repeat. An extra day in there would have helped me a lot.

All I can say is I have newfound appreciation for those who have done the JMT or similar through hikes. Especially Dave1 and Fotg who plowed through this in 8 and 10 days respectively. You have my utmost respect. :worthy:

Completing a hike like the JMT is not something I see myself ever doing. But I am truly impressed by those who make it a part of their life accomplishments, and I was honored to share a paltry few of those miles and stand atop Mt. Whitney and congratulate John for his personal feat. Bravo my friend. Bravo! : app :

OVERVIEW
Day 1: Onion Valley to Vidette Meadow
8.8 miles / 2,692 aeg / 4h2m / 23m stopped (2.18 overall / 2.41 moving)
Stunning scenery. Great weather. I would love to come back to this area again.

Day 2a: Vidette Meadow to Tyndall Frog Tanks
13.2 miles / 3,768 aeg / 7h38m / 1h43m stopped (1.73 overall / 2.23 moving)
Forester pass is a grind. But a fantastic area with great views in all directions.

Day 2b: Camp Wander
2.9 miles / 426 aeg / 1h28m (1.98 overall)
Happy to have no pack on my back. Nice wander down Tyndall Creek to the ranger station. Nobody home.

Day 3: Tyndall Frog Tanks to Guitar Lake
11.0 miles / 2,223 aeg / 5h26m / 1h 6m stopped (2.02 overall / 2.56 moving)
Hiked with Heather, a nice girl finishing her solo through-hike who convinced us to camp at Guitar Lake.

Day 4a: Whitney Summit from Guitar Lake
9.5 miles / 3,166 aeg / 5h18m / 55m stopped (1.79 overall / 2.17 moving)
Guitar Lake is great place to make summiting Whitney a more reasonable endeavor. Slow but steady and you're there in no time!

Day 4b: Guitar Lake to Rock Creek
9.9 miles / 1,102 aeg / 4h9m / 25m stopped (2.37 overall / 2.65 moving)
This was a grind after Whitney in the morning. Foxtail pines were the only real highlight on this otherwise hot and dry stretch of trail.

Day 5: Rock Creek to Horseshoe Meadow
16.2 miles / 3,046 aeg / 7h15m / 51m stopped (2.23 overall / 2.53 moving)
This was quite simply a death march with the car as the goal. Beautiful scenery though. Army Pass was tough and the final 8 miles down dragged on and on. The cooler still had ice in it and the beer was delicious!

Despite the heavy stats, I really enjoyed this trip and love spending time in this area. The Sierra truly are a wonderful range and I will be back to explore more. Thanks John for doing all the planning so all I had to do was show up and put one foot in front of the other! Another great trip that I'll always remember :)
Flora
Flora
Foxtail Pine
Meteorology
Meteorology
Ice

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Crabtree Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Plenty of water for filtering

dry Guyot Creek Dry Dry
Unexpectedly dry at trail crossing at 10,400. Ranger's note on bear locker at Rock Creek advises against using it as a reliable source for water - dated 2015. That said, there were some stagnant pools that could be filtered if absolutely needed.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Perrin Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Perrin drains into Rock Creek at a nice meadow area with ample camping opportunities and good clean water flow.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max South Fork Cottonwood Creek Medium flow Medium flow
Healthy flow on Cottonwood Creek along the entire length of trail
_____________________
33s over 45s
Jun 15 2015
friendofThundergod
avatar

 Guides 28
 Routes 314
 Photos 9,127
 Triplogs 867

39 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA 
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jun 15 2015
friendofThundergod
Backpack202.87 Miles 40,561 AEG
Backpack202.87 Miles10 Days         
40,561 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Inspired by the trips of Dave1 and 9L, I decided to give the John Muir Trail a shot this summer. Yosemite is very tough to get an entry permit from, so I started at Tuolumne. Therefore, we can call this a JMT light or a segment hike and I will go back and suffer through the crowds of Yosemite valley another time to complete the final segment.

I dropped the dogs off late Sunday morning on June 14 and headed for California. Having never been to California before, that turned out to be a minor adventure in itself. I missed the first turn for Yosemite and google rerouted me up the west coast. I toured Pasadena drove on a road I think they call the grape vine and was nearing Fresno when I realized it was not the way I wanted to go. I then took highway 58 across the bottom of the Sierra Nevada range and made my way back to the eastern side via a series of state roads. My detour only cost me about three and a half extra hours and 200 plus miles. I ended up seeing some more of California, but did not make Yosemite on the 14.

I finally arrived at the permits office around nine the next morning. The ranger informed me that if I wanted I could start a day early. Initially, I had planned to day hike Yosemite on the 15 and start my trek on the 16. However, the previous day's driving fiasco had me extra annoyed, I did not want to spend anymore money and the thought of hiking the sidewalks of Yosemite on a Sunday afternoon made me cringe. Consequently, after about a five minute deliberation in my head, I said let's start now! There would only be one small issue, I really only had four days worth of food until my resupply and this would be adding in an extra day, but I had some extra snacks in the car and I knew I would be fine splitting a Mountain House.

Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Fork Bridge (11.3 miles)

No reason to rush at all on this day one, as with an early entry date, any miles I gained would just be a nice little head start on the miles I would need to cover to complete the trail in my original permit dates of the 16-30. Not rush is exactly what I did on day one. I spent my late morning and early afternoon just absolute awestruck at the beauty of Lyell Canyon and the picturesque Tuolumne River. I stayed near where John camped in 2013. A great spot along the Lyell fork of Tuolomne, near the forks bridge. I set up camp and took a signature FOTG nap, woke up, ate half a mountain house and went back to bed. Perfect site, perfect day, perfect start to trek.

Day 2: Lyell Fork Bridge to Gladys Lake (20 miles)

I hit the trail at 0630 on day two. This would be my latest start time of the entire trek. I quickly developed a pretty efficient morning routine that had me leaving camp usually on or just before six the rest of the way. The climb up Donohue Pass was nothing short of majestic with: partially frozen basins, a snowy backdrop, water gushing from every drainage and amazing views. Speaking of views, they only got better as I crested the pass and gazed south. From there I headed down down Rush Creek and up Island Pass. Island Pass is where things simply got breathtaking. I can't put into words the beauty of Thousand Island Lake and the several other crystal clear lakes the trail drops into and out of during this simply amazing stretch of JMT. I kept with John's 2013 itinerary and stayed at Gladys Lake, but at the south end. Another perfect campsite another perfect day.

Day 3: Gladys Lake to Purple Lake (22.7 miles)

Even though it was only day three, I woke up eager to get to Red's Meadow. I thought a quick bite to eat would not hurt and I had a few things I could trow away as well. However, as I was making my way down to the Devil's Postpile area, I decided I did not really need to go to Red's Meadow. I was afraid it would undo my two days in the wilderness and make me soft or yearn for things I could not have, besides I was getting resupplied in potentially another day anyways. From Devils Postpile it was through the eerie Ansel Adams Wilderness that has been recently impacted by a forest fire and a tremendous wind storm that took out several thousand trees. The next stretch of trail many find mundane and boring according to the Wenk book, however, I had no problem with it and enjoyed the views along with the very well-maintained trail. I was still keeping with John's old itinerary when I finally deviated at Duck Creek. He had selected an awesome and relatively popular site in 2013 from the looks of it. However, I did not stop at Reds and had hit Duck Creek a little early in the afternoon. I decided I would push up the trail to Purple Lake a lake formed by thousands of years of purple rain according to the guide book. Reaching Purple Lake included a pretty nasty little climb out of the Duck Creek drainage, but it proved to be worth it. I got a great spot nestled just inside the tree line and among some large slabs with a nicely flowing creek to avoid long walks to the lake for water. Ate well, slept well and enjoyed a cool but not cold evening.

Day 4: Purple Lake to the Junction with Bear Creek (24.2 miles)

Silver was another superb pass. It was preceded by a knee rattling drop down into the beautiful and robust flowing Fish Creek drainage and then followed by an even more aggressive drop into Tully Hole then a 2100 foot climb up Bear Ridge and another 1000 foot plus drop back down into Bear Creek. I took advantage of the tremendous downhills, the relative ease of the Bear Ridge Climb along with the great trail conditions and knocked out a 24 mile day that was not overly strenuous. Bear Creek is a powerful little creek pushing a lot of water. I enjoyed a pretty built up site near the trail, but not as close to the water as some of the nicer sites that I came across the next morning.

Day 5: Bear Creek Junction to Muir Trail Ranch, Hot Springs and finally Piute Creek Junction (16 miles, 1.6 miles, 4 miles)

I arrived at Muir Trail Ranch early in every way. I arrived just before noon and a day early. I was gambling that I could pick up my food bucket a day early and either push up the trail more, or get an earlier start on the following day. The worker at ranch had no problem grabbing my bucket a day early, however, immediately there was an issue. My bucket was not there, however, she was very confident it would be arriving on the five o'clock truck and told me I could come back and check later to ease my worries. Although slightly worried, it was tough to be too down. The hot springs were great and I was having a pretty good time socializing with the several backpackers that were slowly trickling in. Although, I was nearly swept down stream fording the very fast moving San Joaquin River not once, but twice. its amazing what a little quality time around the hot springs will drive one to do. Then the wheels came off my little vacation day at the ranch. My bucket never arrived. Under normal circumstances this is not that big of an issue, as M.T.R. is known for its great "community" bin. However, this was the day before the ranch opened officially and the only food they had available was left over from last year. I had no problem finding four days worth of Mountain Houses, however, there was nothing to take for a breakfast, nothing with electrolytes and no nice quick burning sugary snacks. I went from expecting to receive six days worth of my own hand selected dinners, snacks, breakfasts and comfort foods to four mountain houses of which only three I really liked and about 4.5 days worth of expired cliff bars and Kind bars. Oh when I say expired I mean expired with dates ranging from as early as April 2015 to as far back as August 2014. At this point I almost convinced myself to grab enough food to make it to Bishop and call the trek off for events that were obviously out of my control.

As I am mulling over what to do, one of the workers comes out and says, "Now I remember why your name sounded familiar!" I eagerly say, "yes?" as if he is going to pull my bucket out of his pocket. He then says, " A letter arrived for you today." I was completely perplexed, I took the letter and it was from my sister. My sister obviously realized that I could survive ten days without a correspondence from her, but she wanted to surprise me with something fun I guess. The letter was very nice. It had some personal things about my father, some words of encouragement about my new job and gave me way too much credit for undertaking a pretty modest 200 mile trek. Anyways, how does a guy say he is quitting the J.M.T after that? I said to myself quit being a little bitch grab what food you can, shorten the hike to five days and make do. I made a quick appeal to my new found friends at the river and collected some granola and homemade trail mix. Great! I went from coffee in the morning, circus peanuts, chips and my hand picked favorites to bird food and 12 expired cliff bars. At least now my greatest threat was a bird attacking me for my food and not a bear. Can't wait to see how 0500 goes now without a little instant coffee in the system.

Everyone was sympathetic to my situation, but they were all waiting on resupply as well. A couple cool girls I had met in passing the day before offered some breakfast the following morning, but by this point I was tired of being social and slightly annoyed by the situation, so I decided to get a few miles head start on Muir Pass and left M.T.R. sometime after six. I certainly had some anxiety about my food situation and had a feeling those hot springs may have been the place to be in the Sierras that night, but I left anyways and committed to completing the trail. Ended up staying near Karl and John's site from the year before. I shared a site with a PCT guy. Very cool kid, 24 years old, was living off fresh trout and wild onion as he slowly made his way through the Sierras. His name was Breaks and he was tackling the PCT after only one trip to Glacier national park! He was doing well though when I met up with him and was confident he would reach Canada before winter. We had a few pretty good conversations and he helped ease my anxiety over my very modest rations, saying something to the extent of, "don't worry the trail will take care of you."

Day 6: Piute Creek Junction to Big Pete's Meadow Crossing (24 miles)

I got a nice early start just before six. All of a sudden my morning routine had become considerably shorter with no oatmeal to cook or coffee to drink. Day six was also my first day where I felt I should start covering some ground. Muir Pass was beautiful but a tough climb for me with my newly albeit partially stocked five day pack. What compounded matters was that even with my head start from the night before, I was reached the pass at around mile 19 when I was not exactly at my most spry. Luckily, the beauty of Evolution Creek, valley and the basin area more than made up for the tough climb. The descent down the south side was amazing, more cascades, partially frozen lakes and quick trail with some amazing views of what lies ahead; the second of the M&M brothers, Mather Pass.

Day 7: Big Pete's Meadow to three miles before Pinchot Pass (24.7 miles)

If Muir Pass broke me off, than Mather Pass got medieval on my #$%. I cursed and crawled my way up the 12,000 foot plus devil pass, but was then able to enjoy a relative highway of a trail down the other side up a quick 800 feet to my campsite on an unnamed lake, just north of Lake Marjorie and just below 11,000 feet. Today, I realized after I dipped into some snacks reserved for another day, that my food rationing system may been a little optimistic. I was simply not getting what I needed, I am not saying my sugary snacks would have saved the day, but the old school year old Cliff Bars were certainly not meeting my nutritional needs on the trail.

Day 8: 3 miles before Pinchot Pass to Bubbs Creek Junction Area (23.8 miles)

My results of a lack of quality snacks, or at least quality snacks and food in my opinion came to fruition today. Day 8 was a big day. I had to start the day off with a three mile 1500 or so feet climb up Pinchot than a drop down to 8500 feet only to climb back up to just under 12,000 in order to get over Glen Pass. Day eight marked the first time during my entire trek that I was passed by hikers. It was by a considerably fresher group on day 12 of the same south bound hike, so I naturally passed them later and never saw them again, but they went by me like I was standing still on the way up to Pinchot. I literally took nearly two hours to cover those three hours and was feeling very worried about my overall level of energy all of a sudden. My boots felt like cement, hard to describe, but I could barely lift my feet during those first few hours of day light. Day 8 was kind of zero day for snacks, not a lot to go around, nothing at all for breakfast and three bars for the whole day, not counting dinner. I started to pick up some energy and speed with the downhill, but I was absolutely dreading Glen Pass. Then I met a pretty knowledgeable local hiker and fisherman named Mike. After filtering some water, several conversations about trout fishing and a couple miles of hiking we parted ways. However, before he left he gave me a packet of almond butter mixed with a touch of maple syrup and promised me that it would get me up Glen. I don't know if it was psychological, but that almond butter hit that spot and provided the energy he said it would. I cleared the first 2500 feet of the climb in two plus mile an hour fashion. I guess the trail does find away of taking care of one. With about a little less than half the ascent complete, I passed a few sites with stationary bear boxes provided by the forest service. For some crazy reason I stopped and went over and opened one. It was packed with food! It was an illegal, but definitely a community cache of supplies and food. There were several bags of food inside, some trash and a lot of basic trail supplies. I started going through the bags and this was my take: one row of Ritz crackers, one row of Oreos (not crushed amazingly), four granola bars, (you know the unhealthy kind that taste like candy) three small packages of peanut butter and get this a package of Lifesavers and four prepackaged Gatorade mixes! Not wanting to be greedy, but positive I had not raided some poor hikers supplies, I shut up the storage bin and headed for the pass grinning ear to ear. I told myself the Lifesavers would have to wait until after Glen, but I immediately had a Gatorade mix. The allure of new snacks quickly wore off and I had perhaps what I think is one of the steepest and toughest passes of the JMT ahead. It broke me off, but mentally all was good and I pushed all the way back down to 9500 feet after clearing the pass. I was now in a pretty good spot to tackle Forester and I was feeling so much better about my food situation. The trail had taken care of me. I got an awesome spot, but then the Bad Scouts of America showed up and ruined my night, but not worth the cliche rant about unruly scouts and poor scout masters.

Day 9: Bubbs Creek to Crabtree Creek south of the ranger station (23.4)

My food was not as big of an issue now and I really only had to have a decent day to set myself up for a Whitney Summit and Whitney Portal exit. But first loomed Forester a legitimate 13,000 plus foot pass to clear within the first eight miles of my hike. Surprisingly, Forester was a breeze! Imagine that hit a pass with a little food in your belly and hit the pass before mile 18 and all is well. Not to mention the grade and trail up to the pass from the north side were probably the best out of all of the other passes. Some talus to navigate, but not like Mather and Muir, generally long sandy or gravel switchbacks most of the way. A race track down Forester, but I will say the final 8-10 miles to Crabtree were my least favorite of the JMT, just dry and not a lot going on in the scenery department along with some annoying little 400 and 600 foot climbs mixed in there.

Day 10: Crabtree Creek to Whitney Portal (19.3 miles)

Final food count for the last day was two expired cliff bars for the climb and exit. However, for breakfast three Oreos, a left over chicken breast from the previous night's Mountain House and a cup of hot cocoa. My largest and most filling breakfast since about day four I think. The breakfast did not help, nor did the last day mentality, climbing Whitney with a full pack just hurt! Although, I should note there is a convenient spot at 13,000 feet where you can leave your pack, so that leaves you only a 3000 foot climb with your full pack. The other 1400 you get to do like a rock star pack free with a nalgene bottle and puffy coat. I met a group of cool guys on the top, relished my moment a little, reflected on what I had done and then started down. However, during conversation the group I met, not only insisted that I accompany them to Lone Pine for celebratory brew and food after, but they also offered a ride back to Yosemite, as they were going that way. My problem of getting back to Yosemite was all of a sudden solved in five minutes, and believe me I had no real plan to get back, so it was a tremendous break for me. The summit of Whitney to the trail head can be summed up with one word switchback. I hiked out with my new friends after they packed up at base camp. They were all super cool guys a surfer, a lawyer and a couple of green thumbs from Santa Cruz, who could go wrong with that company? I confidently ordered a Stone IPA like I knew what I was doing, chugged it down and ate my food quicker than the entire table. I hopped in a car with Charlie the surfer and we had a nice safe, relaxing pleasant ride back to Yosemite. Next, I hopped in my car and drove straight through the night to get back to Cup and Blanco, I passed out for about an hour or two outside of Vegas and somehow arrived at Chumleys by about nine in the morning for my long awaited reunion with Cup and Blanco. A much quicker and efficient route home than the one there!

Final Notes

Had my food arrived this would have been a longer trek and less taxing on the body, but when the food situation became sketchy I had to turn it on a little. The only problem with this strategy was, I was now completing nearly an ultra light weight style hike with miles and AEG, but I was carrying nearly a 40 pound pack. I can do 12-15 miles all day with 35 plus pounds on the back, but once you start going over 20 the days can drag a tad out there.

A special thanks to John for help with the planning/logistics from the very first day I secured a permit and his other guidance along the way. Some more HAZ appreciation Dave1's way of course, he seems to be the inspiration behind most of my more ambitious hikes lately and he always remains a good source of info. Both Dave and John wrote great triplogs for JMT, must reads if doing trail in future. Finally, a very grateful thanks to Chumley for taking the pups on for ten days! Oh and I almost forgot, thank you Oregonhiker for sharing your California topo on Garmin and downloading the first 78 miles of the track for me, it certainly made the other 120 miles more interesting.

On the night I left M.T.R. I ran into two PCT guys that were in pretty rough shape, down to nothing for food and they had not ate much in the last few days. They still needed to make it to V.V.R. to resupply, so I went back to M.T.R grabbed two Mountain Houses for them and gave them two of the packages of trail mix that the girls had just given me. Two days later I found a ton of food and snacks, maybe in some weird way trail karma had came around to me for my good deed. I mean after all I did get a ride back to Tuolumne after only about five minutes on the top of Whitney.

I am not sure how I will go back to hiking in Arizona after spending ten days in an area I am now classifying as one of our nation's natural wonders, but I think I will manage. Similarly, I am now very intrigued by this PCT thing, I guess its that or the AZT up next ;)

I know the triplog is long and the photo-set will be excessive, however, no apologies. It was an amazing trip every step of the way and while its certainly not the feat of the century, I do have a strong sense of accomplishment after this one. The miles and days were modest, but I think I accomplished it under some less than ideal situations and with some trials and tribulations along the way.
Meteorology
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7 archives
Jun 29 2014
Dave1
avatar

 Routes 29
 Photos 1,548
 Triplogs 1,802

45 male
 Joined Jan 25 2009
 Phoenix, AZ
John Muir Trail, CA 
John Muir Trail, CA
 
Backpack avatar Jun 29 2014
Dave1
Backpack222.00 Miles 46,000 AEG
Backpack222.00 Miles8 Days         
46,000 ft AEG24 LBS Pack
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
This was a trip I had been planning for about 6 months. The longest hike I've ever done. My goal was to finish in 7 days but really I had no idea if I'd be able to handle a trip this long and was expecting to drop out after day 3 or 4. I know most people do this trail in 2 or 3 weeks or more but I just can't get that much time off from work nor do I want to be away from home that long. I have to thank HAZ member keepmoving for bringing this trail to my attention about 2 years ago. Since reading his trip report and seeing his pictures, I've dreamed of hiking it. I started the hike from the official start point at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley and hiked it south to Whitney Portal, near Lone Pine, Ca. (I didn't bring a GPS so daily mileages are estimated based on the maps I brought along.)

Day 1, Sunday June 29th, 10 miles:
I left Phoenix late Saturday night and arrived in Mammoth Lakes early Sunday morning on no sleep. I parked my truck at Mammoth RV Park for $25 for 8 days. The reason I parked in Mammoth is because in the event I couldn't finish the entire JMT, I figured Mammoth would be easier to get back to than Whitney Portal or the other towns. In front of McDonalds just .3 miles from the RV park, I hopped on the 8:30a YARTS bus to Yosemite Valley. The ride took over 4 hours but it was a nice coach with comfortable seats and a restroom in the back. Cost was $18, paid in cash to driver. BTW, if you're looking for an extra challenge, try peeing in the back of a bus while it negotiates the switchbacks up Lee Vining Canyon. Good times! I got to the Wilderness Center (Yosemite's version of the backcountry office) to pick up my permit, which started on Monday, and was excited to find out they had one more permit left starting Sunday! This meant I could start hiking right away and didn't have to spend the night in the Valley's backpacker's campground. The ranger said I'd have to camp in Little Yosemite Valley so this would be a short day of just 4.5 miles. I was on trail by 1:30 and took my time getting up to Nevada Falls. Staying on the official JMT meant I would have to miss the Mist Trail and Vernal Falls and take a slightly longer route to Nevada Falls. The lower section of the alternate trail is obviously used frequently by equestrian stock as it's completely covered with shit.

With plenty of daylight left (sunset was at 8:30), I lounged around the Merced River above Nevada Falls along with many other park visitors, enjoying the refreshing water. After a while I went over to Little Yosemite Valley Campground and then to the adjacent section of the Merced to refill my water. Some guy said he saw a bear on the other side of the river and so he went over to LYV CG to gather as many people as possible to bring back and gawk. Well the bear never appeared but seeing all those people made me realize quickly I didn't want to sleep anywhere near here. I took another look at my permit and noticed it said "you must get to LYV before camping". So that's what I did and I took off up the trail. I ended up spending the first night about 5 miles beyond LYV, on a ridge with nice views of Half Dome. There were a few annoying mosquitoes out while I set up my tent. Little did know just how bad the mosquito situation would get in the succeeding days... I was low on water so I skipped dinner. Had cell phone reception and was able to call home.

Day 2, Monday June 30th, 27 miles:
Up at 5:30 and on trail by 6. Ate breakfast (a Larabar) and then brushed my teeth while walking. This would be the reoccurring theme for the week. Passed by Long Meadow and then Cathedral Lakes. Some guy asked me to join him for a trip to Merced Lake. No thanks, I got too much trail to cover. Started seeing a lot more people and then began hearing traffic noise. I must be near Tuolumne Meadows.

I stopped at Tuolumne Meadows Store and Grill. There was quite a crowd of tourists and hikers hanging out. Bought a few Gatorades and 2 cheeseburgers. Burgers were good but I was pretty hungry so that may have clouded my judgment. I took a long break here from the mid-day sun, just doing a lot of people watching. On the way back to the trail, I stopped by the restroom to help conserve my limited supply of toilet paper.

Lyell Fork is a long, flat, wide open creek/meadow-deal. It took a while to get through this area. Supposedly this is a hot spot for bears, but not today. I was heading for Donahue Pass and I could see and hear thunder clouds approaching right over the pass. Hopefully they would pass before I got there. And they mostly did. The clouds gave a welcome break from the searing sun. Made it over 11,073' Donahue Pass without much trouble, I must be acclimating well to the elevation. I camped about a mile past Donahue on a granite slab surrounded by marsh. The mosquitoes became more prevalent this evening. Had cell reception so I was able to check in with my wife. Feels comforting to hear her familiar voice before bed. Had Mountain House Rice & Chicken for dinner.

Day 3, Tuesday July 1st, 29 miles:
Woke up to a cool morning, about 40 degrees. On trail by 5:45. Passed by lots of still-sleeping campers, especially near Rush Creek and Island Pass. This is a popular camping area. Most camp right next to the trail. It amazes me how late people get started in the morning, they're all missing the early morning light bouncing of the peaks! Some were still in bed at 9am! Island Pass went by quickly. On to the greatly anticipated Thousand Island Lake! Thousand was awesome but a large and very noise group camped along the shore spoiled it slightly. Ruby Lake became one of my favorites. I like the enclosed, quiet feeling of it. On to another big highlight of the trip: Shadow Creek. I love these high-flow, fast moving, steep creeks!

On the narrow, steep switchbacks leading up to Rosalie Lake, I met head to head with a growling, off leash dog. I picked up a large rock as my only defense. Along comes the owner: "He's friendly." Really? Could have fooled me. I long to be back in a national park where dogs aren't allowed on trails.

Devil's Postpile National Monument was a bit of a slog. Deep sand on the trail, little shade, and a fiery sun beating down on me weren't much fun. Also there was no shortage of horse droppings blanketing the trail. I would call this the low point of the trip. I was happy to find Reds Meadow store still open at 5pm. Got some more Gatorade and then a cheeseburger with fruit salad at the restaurant. After Reds I took a shortcut trail back to the JMT. After a while I expected to see a JMT sign or a merging trail but saw nothing. Up ahead I see a rugged looking forest service worker carrying a shovel and a hand saw. This guy looks like Grizzly Adams' grandfather. Surely he knows if I am on the right trail. "Hello sir, is this the JMT" I asked sheepishly. "I don't know, this is my first day here" he replies. You gotta be kidding me? Further up I ran into a northbound hiker. I ask him the same and he just laughs. Ok, I'll figure it out myself. One thing I do figured out is all the northbound hikers are doing the PCT, all have epic beards (and the women have hairy legs), and only about half are friendly or will give ascending hikers the right of way.

The Pacific Crest Trail runs about 2600 miles from Mexico to Canada. Most hike it northbound in about 5-6 months. And most have already started a couple of months ago. I would pass a PCT hiker just about every hour. Coming in December, look for Reese Witherspoon playing an over-sexed drug addict who embarks on a PCT journey in Wild.

I find camp about half way between Deer Creek and Duck Lake. This is also known as the driest section of trail, with about 6 miles between water sources. I do spot a very slight creek running into a dank pocket of water but the whole place is chocked with poisonous Corn Lilies. Fortunately I have enough water. The ground is steep above and below the trail but I'm able to find a flat spot built up behind a fallen tree to set up my bivy. The mosquitoes welcome me with open arms. For dinner, Mountain House Spaghetti & Meat Sauce mixed with a dry cheddar cheese packet from Annie's mac & cheese. Not bad, might try that again.

Day 4, Wednesday July 2nd, 31 miles:
Another early morning. Lots of people camped next to the creek flowing from Duck Lake. I stop at Virginia Lake to fill up my water and clean up a bit. I try to get all my water from either the larger lakes or from a high flowing creek. I find a hiking shoe on the Virginia Lake bridge. How do you leave behind one shoe? I drop down the long switchbacks into Tully Hole and begin the trek along Fish Creek. Another awesome creek with breathtaking waterfalls! The mosquitoes continue to build up their force. No more extended breaks for me. All breaks must be one minute or less, they demand. Silver Pass (10,900') gets checked off.

The climb up from Mono Creek to Bear Ridge is supposed to be 2,000' but feels 10 times that. These are the longest, most unrelenting switchbacks I have ever experienced. I hope to get a view of Lake Edison from Bear Ridge but the trees prevent it. I also make what would be the last phone call to my wife on top of BR. After this I would have no more cell reception and would communicate with her by Delorme inReach instead.

I reach Bear Creek and find myself at ground zero of the mosquito territory. I need water but get absolutely swarmed with those bastards. It's painful but necessary. I learn exactly how long each bite will itch for. I meet up with a German? PCT hiker. He has an interesting bug shelter and is dressed from head to toe in nylon. Must be steamy by the creek. We are completely covered with mozzies as we talk for just a few minutes. I have on my wind breaker for protection even though it's a warm and humid evening. They bite right through my double layers. Camp is found on a granite slab about 500' feet from the creek. I set up in record time. Mountain House Pasta Primavera for dinner. Meh. Egads! The mosquitoes find a way in between where the two zipper pulls meet! I send these kamikaze pilots to an early grave and then seal up the zipper with duct tape. After laying on my mattress for about a half hour, I noticed I was now feeling the granite slab under me. Damn! My mattress has a hole! Not able to find it while inside the bivy and not wanting to go outside and fight the mosquitoes to find a softer campsite, I suffer through a near sleepless night.


Day 5, Thursday July 3rd, 27 miles:
Wasn't able to get much sleep so the mosquitoes and I packed up early and hit the trail. Almost immediately we have to make a wet crossing of Bear Creek. Fortunately the creek is only ankle-deep but that cold water sure wakes me up quick. Later, I stopped at Marie Lakes and dunked my mattress into the water to find the leak. Found it and made a mental note of the location so I could tape it up later tonight. Hopefully tonight I'll get some much needed sleep. Selden Pass was a breeze at 10,880'.

I ran into a Sierra NF ranger on the way down to Muir Trail Ranch. We had a nice conversation, mostly about the mosquitoes. He then checked my permit. This would be the only time a ranger asked to see my permit during the entire trip. Muir Trail Ranch is a private ranch located just off the JMT near mile 108 (north to south). They offer resupply services for hikers and riders. They also have cabins and mules for rent. They have a very small store with a few supplies but no food. MTR is one of four popular resupply points for JMT hikers. The others being: Tuolumne Meadows, Reds Meadow, and Vermillion Valley Ranch. MTR is last one you'll pass if you're one of the 90% of JMT hikers that are hiking north to south.

I got to MTR and picked up my resupply bucket that I had sent to them 3 weeks prior. The cost for them to pick up the bucket from the nearest post office and hold it for me was $65. Add to that the USPS postage and this gets expensive. I hadn't been eating much and had so much food left over that I probably could have skipped the resupply. I did need some more freeze-dried dinners though. And it was nice to change into some fresh, clean socks. I ended up shipping most of the food back home. Cost was $27 to ship in a priority mail box. I would have just donated the extra food but I had some other items I didn't need and wanted to ship home. The value of the food was probably about $27 so it ended up being a wash. Don't ask me why MTR requires you to ship stuff to them in a 5-gallon bucket yet you can ship stuff out from there in a cardboard box. Anyways, others donate their extra food and it's put into buckets that anyone can take from. It's usually Pacific Crest Trail hikers that raid the buckets. The buckets contain everything from prepackaged food to home-made food, clothing, batteries, fuel, gear, etc... When I was there a couple was receiving 2 buckets of food (mostly REI-type stuff, Mountain House, Probars, etc...) but they were ending their trip early so they donating everything. There were some very happy PCT hikers that day! They broke out their stoves and immediately started cooking!

After leaving MTR, the temps seamed to soar. Not like AZ of course but the intense sun made it seam brutal. I passed over the San Joaquin River via a bridge and entered Kings Canyon National Park. The SJ was really awesome! Huge water flow and so many amazing waterfalls. Saw a NPS ranger and we exchanges hellos. Fast forward to Evolution Creek, this would be the second of two water crossing on this trip (and the deepest) requiring me to get wet. There is a sign at the crossing stating that if the creek is too high to cross, one can take an alternate trail about a half mile up creek and cross at a meadow. Not knowing whether it was higher than normal or not, I opted to check out the meadow. It was almost exactly the same. I just kept my sneakers and socks on and forded the knee deep water. My sneakers remained wet for the remainder of the day and my feet became itchy and uncomfortable. Looking back, I should have removed my footwear as the creek bottom was mostly soft sand.

I follow along Evolution Creek for quite a ways, passing the ranger cabin at McClure Meadow. I may have found some wild onions alongside the trail. I'm not brave enough to try them. By evening I am making the steep climb up to Evolution Lake where I'll spend the night. My campsites get higher and higher as this one is at 10,800'. The mosquitoes give me a slight break, sending just a few 3rd stringers out to say hi. MH Rice & Chicken with dry mixed vegetables for dinner, one of my favorites.

Day 6, Friday July 4th, 31 miles:
Knocked out 2 big passes today. Muir Pass (11,955') and Mather Pass (12,080'). Feeling more confident that I may finish this by Sunday or Monday! I was excited to get up to Muir Pass so I could check out the stone hut on top but when I arrive I find a group camped inside. They're all smoking weed, as if they weren't high enough. As I drop down into Le Conte Canyon, I discover the infamous shark rock! Smile, you son of a bitch! I take an extended break at North Fork Kings River to do some laundry. Mather Pass is a long climb up from Palisade Creek and I topped out with just about an hour of daylight left. I hoof it down the tundra to seek out a suitable camp, still above tree line but not so high I can't breathe. Another Granite slab, the best surface to avoid condensation in the morning. MH Mexican Rice & Chicken with added mixed vegetables for dinner. Very good! My new favorite?

Day 7, Saturday July 5th, 32 miles:
I visit Pinchot Pass (12,100') early in the day and run into some southbound JMT hikers. We are a rarity in these parts. After Pinchot, I drop down into Woods Creek as the temperature climbs. The creeks are still too cold to jump fully in so I took a "bandana" shower today and rinsed my clothes out in a creek. Feeling fresh now! At the intersection of Woods and South Baxter Creeks, I meet the whacky suspension bridge. This thing is fun! It looks stable at first but as you cross, the bridge bounces up and down and sways side to side. On top of that, some of the slats are missing or loose so you have to watch every step. The trail along Baxter becomes a slog as all I can think about is fresh fruit and not what I am carrying in my bear canister.

Fortunately the trail levels out for a while and I get some welcome overcast clouds. The walk through Arrowhead and Rae lakes is pleasant but soon ends when the steep climb up to Glen Pass (11,978') rears its ugly head. After Glen I drop back down to Bubbs Creek at 9515'. Up and down is the theme of this hike. I pass through Vidette Meadows which is a popular area for campers, and thus bears. I don't want to camp here so I try to pick up the pace as best I can.

I continue climbing up along Bubbs Creek and past tree line. It's 15 minutes after sunset and I need to find a spot soon but the trail is the only flat land around. I round a corner and luckily find a huge, unoccupied camp. It has multiple level spots for me to choose from and is just a short walk to a feeder creek for Bubbs. This will do. I quickly set up camp as darkness sets in and then wash my feet and legs in the freezing creek as the mozzies get a quick snack. This will be my highest camp at 11,200'. MH Mac & Cheese for dinner. Ok but at least it gives me 950 calories.

Day 8, Sunday July 6th, 35 miles:
I got up early today and was moving by 5:40. I need to get Forester Pass and Whitney done today so I can go home! This has been a long trip!

At 12,000' I'm still breathing easy. My lungs sip o2 like a Prius sips gas. I feel invincible. I top Forester and am at the highest elevation I've ever been, 13,180'. Forester Pass comes and goes but I notice lots of clouds moving in from all directions. Will this be my first rain day? How will my cheap plastic poncho hold up? I high-tail it across the tundra below Forester and rain starts sprinkling. The cool air feels good and I'm moving faster than any of the previous days. Good thing too because this will be my highest mileage day if I want to finish.

I drop down into Wallace Creek at 10,400'. This is going to be a major effort to get up to Whitney at 14,495'. As I get closer to Guitar Lake, the weather starts getting worse. The wind is picking up considerably and the rain is spitting harder. I pass several guys who will be terminating their summit bid at Guitar for fear of lightning on Whitney. Many are setting up camp, and it's only 1pm. The clouds over Whitney are dark and ominous. But a blue spot appears over what may be Trail Crest. I continue on cautiously. I meet another group who is coming down from Trail Crest. They inform me that the rangers have instructed everyone to get off the mountain due to lightning danger. The fear builds but so does the blue spot. I continue on. By now I'm determined to just get over Trail Crest so I can descend down into Whitney Portal. Whitney will have to be done another time. I'm disappointed but determined to finish today. As I reach Trail Crest (13,650') on this usually busy but now deserted trail, the clouds indeed were clearing over me but were building again over Whitney. I made the right decision to avoid the summit. I cruised down the many switchbacks from Trail Crest and passed through a bustling Trail Camp. I suppose many were waiting for the weather to break or maybe just acclimating for a summit bid tomorrow. The trail down to Lone Pine Lake is steep and rocky and my knees and feet have had all they could take. This needs to end soon! I swear this is the worst trail I've ever been on (it's not)!

I stopped by the small restaurant and store at Whitney Portal and got a cheeseburger and fries. Not the best I ever had but luckily I was hungry. Rested for a bit and then started out for the long 9 mile walk down to the town of Lone Pine, hoping I wouldn't have to walk long before someone would pick me up. Well I guess I had that scary no-shower-in-eight-days look about me because it took about 5 miles and many passing cars before I got a ride. A nice couple who happened to live in Lone Pine picked me up. Just in time too, my feet were so sore. I would need to get on the Eastern Sierra Transit bus heading north to Mammoth to pick up my truck but the next bus was the following morning at 6:15am. I got a room at Portal Motel in the center of town and took the most satisfying and needed shower of my life! Think the shower scene from Silkwood.

Overall it was a good trip with awesome scenery and an endless number of lakes, creeks and water falls. I just wish I could have completed the final trek to Whitney. Also the mosquitoes and intense mid-day sun sucked out a lot of the enjoyment. It was also way more physically and mentally difficult than I was expecting. Mid-week, when I was less than half-way, just knowing I would be hiking from sun up to sun down for the next 4 or 5 days was very mentally draining. I'm glad I stuck it out though.

Distance is based on the Tom Harrison maps stating 220.4 miles from Happy Isles to Whitney Portal. My distance excludes the 3.8 mile round trip to Whitney Summit from Trail Crest and includes about 5 miles on Whitney Portal Road until I got a ride. Elevation gain is based on various internet sources stating anywhere from 46k to 48k AEG, hiking north to south. I'll split the difference and call it 47k, minus 900' for not going all the way up to Whitney from Trail Crest at 13,600'. I didn't keep track of my water usage but it was probably something like 3-4 liters per day. I took over 950 pictures throughout the week so I'll see if I can narrow them down to 15 or so.

As for signage, most of the trail junctions have signs posted but not all of them say JMT. The national parks seem to be better at labeling JMT signs than the national forests. I don't think a GPS is necessary but I would definitely recommend a set of maps. I don't think the JMT is an official trail so it gets sporadic signage.

Wildlife was somewhat rare during my trek. I usually saw about 2-3 deer per day and a few marmots per day at higher elevations. Lots of chipmunks and just one lizard and one prairie dog. I saw no bear scat or bear prints at all. I'm not so sure bears are as common here as the land managers lead you to believe.

When I got home I was happy to see I only lost about 6 lbs. I thought I would lose more due to only eating 1800 calories per day.


Gear
Shelter: I used a Nemo GoGo Elite (24.5oz) which is a hybrid tent/bivy. This wouldn't have been bad if not for the mosquitoes. Having to dress, eat, pack and do everything else inside when I didn't have enough room to sit was difficult to say the least. This was the first trip (and probably the last) I've used it on.

Sleeping bag: I brought my Western Mountaineering Highlite (16.5oz) bag which I've had for a few years. It's rated down to 35 degrees. This worked out well as it only got down to 40 and some nights I had to keep it unzipped.

Pad: I picked up a REI Flash pad (16.8oz) right before the trip and didn't get to test it beforehand. Luckily it worked out well, well until it got a hole. It's comfortable, kept me insulated from the ground, and is easy to inflate and deflate. I don't know if I can complain about its durability as something sharp in my pack may have abraded it, causing the hole.

Pack: Osprey Exos 38. This was the perfect size pack for my gear. It's reasonably comfortable with a 25 lbs load and my back stayed well ventilated with the trampoline back panel. The load stayed on my hips as long as I kept the hipbelt tight, which needed to be adjusted quite often. That's my only complaint is that the straps don't hold their tension for long.

Food protection: Last year I bought a Bare Boxer (26.3oz) bear canister. This is the smallest and lightest on Yosemite's approved list. I was able to stuff about 4 days' worth of food in it as long as I brought calorically-dense food.

Footwear: Upon recommendation by Johnlp, I picked a pair of Brooks Cascadia 8. They felt great for the first 3 days and then I started getting blisters. Probably inevitable no matter what shoe. Still the best trail shoe I've tried so far. Thanks, John!
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Aug 20 2012
keepmoving
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35 male
 Joined Aug 16 2006
 Portland, OR
Mount Whitney 14,505Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Aug 20 2012
keepmoving
Backpack226.69 Miles 41,488 AEG
Backpack226.69 Miles13 Days         
41,488 ft AEG
 
1st trip
The following is a log of my solo northbound thru hike of the JMT. It took me 13 days to complete the entire trail with 1 resupply at the Muir Trail Ranch (and some snacks purchased at Reds Meadow). While I initially wanted to take the trail slow, possibly 15 to 20 days, real world commitments required that I finish in 14 days or less. I had the fortune of meeting and hiking with many great people along the way. It was definitely one of the biggest challenges I have undertaken and I am already looking for another long distance trail to complete!


Day 1 Monday 8/20 18.2 Miles AEG 6,932

0515
Started while still dark

1418
Made it to the summit of Whitney in 8 hours 26 minutes and 6 seconds. My head hurts and I feel dehydrated. I have less than 1 liter of water left and 5 miles remain to Guitar Lake. I hiked off and on with a guy my age named Nikolas and his father. This was his father's 8th successful summit out of 9 attempts! They are only up here for a day hike, but my journey is only just beginning!

1941 Elevation 11,042
Stopped to set up camp. I am just past Timberline Lake. Will write more later.

2030
Set up camp and ate mac & cheese, butterfingers, and beef jerky. Today was a LONG day. By the time I reached Trail Crest I only had 1 liter left and I needed that 1 liter to get me to the summit of Mt. Whitney and back down to Guitar Lake. Obviously that wasn't going to happen. I tried to ration the water and by the time I summited Whitney I did not feel good. I had a terrible headache and sore throat. I drank half the liter and figured I could rush downhill the remaining 5 miles to Guitar Lake. Unfortunately, I left my trekking poles leaning against the building on the summit and realized my mistake a mile later. I stashed my pack and had to walk back up to the summit. The rangers had taken my poles into the building and returned them when I asked. I headed down again, but my legs were shaky and my headache was worse. I meant to fill up water at Guitar Lake, but the place was a zoo and I ended up meeting a ranger from the Crabtree station at the lake. I walked with the ranger for a short ways and neglected to fill up with water at the lake as I had planned. I eventually filtered water in the creek just north of Timberline Lake & laid down for a couple minutes for my headache and leg shakes to dissipate. I ended up taking 2 Advil and moving on. I was tempted to camp at the site by the creek, but it was too close to the water. I hiked about 5 or 10 minutes past the lake and found a decent spot. I am surprised it is so warm for 11,000+ feet: only 52 degrees according to my watch. Also, there is absolutely NO WIND! Yey! Don't know where to stop tomorrow. I need to average 16 miles a day, but that will place me on Forester Pass. I either need to cut tomorrow short or go further. I guess I will have to see how I feel in the morning.

Day 2 Tuesday 8/21 15 Miles AEG 3,322

0753
Woke around 0600 and took my time waking up and getting ready. It got a little chilly overnight, but not bad. The sun is hitting camp now and the temperature is great. I am down to less than 1 liter of water and need to fill up at one of the creeks. I occasionally have a slight headache, but I feel almost 100%, my legs don't even hurt! I somehow lost the sponge for my Jetboil even though I never used it. It should have been next to the log with my gear, but has disappeared!

0851
Took a detour to the Crabtree Ranger Station. Met the ranger from yesterday- he is also named Rob. He said to say hello to "Dario" at the Rae Lakes Ranger Station for him. Rob mentioned Crabtree will be torn down next year and rebuilt, so I took pictures of it. Rob also said that 90% of JMT hikers go south, so I am part of the 10% minority!

1821 Elevation 12,478
Stopped at the lake below the final switchbacks to Forester Pass. I think I have the lake to myself and found a site with a rock wall built up to protect against the wind. Gonna try to fish now!

1936 Fished the lake with no success. It is very shallow and I suspect it freezes solid in the winter. I am now slightly behind the average I need (16 miles a day) since I stopped short of Forester. I hope tomorrow I can make up time and go beyond Glenn Pass. Making it to Rae Lakes tomorrow would be great, but I don't know if I can do that. I was too slow today, however I hope as my body adjusts and the pack lightens that I can speed up. Since I am at 12,478 for tonight, the next highest location is only about 12,000 feet (besides Forester Pass). So every night from now on will be at a lower elevation!
The clouds that were looming earlier have dissipated and the wind has died down. I am a little chilly when sitting still, but not bad. However my fingers are cold since I don't have gloves.
I found the sponge I thought I lost; it was in the bear vault!
Its 1944 now and there is still plenty of useable/hikeable light.
I am down to 1.3 liters, but will skip filling up tonight and try to run over the pass to the first lake with only 1 liter tomorrow to make the climb easier. I probably have less than 1 mile to the pass, then 2 or 2.5 more to the lake. I will need to do laundry tomorrow and that should be interesting. I am going to take some Advil now and get to bed.

Day 3 Wednesday 8/22 17 Miles AEG 4,165

0705
On Forester Pass! It hailed and snowed last night! I prepared for rain due to lightning at 0100 and by 0300 it was hailing. It started and stopped through the night. My bivy, sleeping bag, shirt, and sun hoodie are soaked. I left camp in a hurry at 0615 during a break in the storm and hope that the sun will come out later so I can dry everything. Also, last night around 2100 I heard a HUGE rock avalanche that sounded like it was coming from the north side of the lake. At first I thought it was someone breaking into a bear locker (but there are none here) and it went on almost long enough for me to capture video (sound) of it! The trail has snow and it's cloudy, but hopefully conditions will improve! Heading down now!

1750
Stopped at Rae Lakes Ranger Station. Dario was not here, but I met "Suse", a ranger that was temporarily staying at the station. He said to relay a message to George at the LaConte station that he was temporarily at Dario's station.

1846 Elevation 10,332
Stopped next to Arrowhead Lake. Found spot with bear locker and no one around! Must set up camp now, will write more later.

2026
It has been a long day. Covered two passes: Forester and Glenn today. Got hailed on and had to dry out the wet clothes from the previous night. After going over Forester I took advantage of sun near Center Basin Trail (which I never actually found) and was able to partially dry my bag and bivy before clouds rolled in again. I dried my UnderArmour shirt by wearing it, but my hoodie is still hopelessly wet.
It rained and hailed for the last 1.8 miles up to Glenn Pass. It was pretty miserable and I moved as quickly as I could. After dropping towards Rae Lakes the rain stopped and the sun peaked through the clouds. I visited the ranger station (see previous note) and kept hiking. It sprinkled very little and I did not need my rain jacket after passing Rae Lakes.
I fished the unnamed lake directly north of Rae Lakes and landed about 3 Brook Trout. I also fished Rae Lakes with no success. I then continued north and found this great site with a bear locker at Arrowhead Lake. I fished the lake and landed 2-4 more Brook Trout. The trout were very active and biting on almost every cast. I had Mac & Cheese, Salami (delicious) and Emergen-C for dinner. I filtered 3 liters of water when I arrived at the lake, but have gone through almost all of it by eating and washing myself & my clothes. Guess I will filter more tomorrow.
It looks like tomorrow I will go over Pinchot Pass, followed by Mather Pass on Friday. Also, the clouds seem to have cleared and I can see the stars! Here's hoping I don't get rain tonight!
Two notes: First, the mileage in the front of my guidebook does not match with the trail elevation & mileage in the back. Second, I noticed my MTR claim voucher shows a pickup date of 8/14/12 when it should show 8/26/12. I am pretty sure I double checked what I typed before I contacted them and think 8/14 is when I sent in the bucket. Either way, they should hold my stuff for two weeks past the pickup date, so I should be ok.

Day 4 Thursday 8/23 15.8 Miles AEG 3,895

0804
It got really cold last night but I made it. The sleeping bag and bivy were damp when I went to bed, but I wore my rain pants and puffy jacket to keep dry. Everything is wet again from condensation, but at least it didn't rain! The sky is clear now. I will go over Pinchot Pass today and see if I have enough time to go over Mather, but I am getting a late start. I caught 3 Brook Trout & a Rainbow this morning. Also took a single package of tuna from a "free" bag that was in the bear locker.

1632
On top of Pinchot Pass! It took me MUCH longer than I expected. Time for a quick snack, then heading downhill. Hopefully I can make it to the South Fork before it gets dark. It is very cloudy now, but no thunder or rain. People heading south from South Fork said it poured on them overnight. Hopefully it won't rain tonight!

1900 Elevation 10,173
Stopped near South Fork, between Pinchot and Mather Pass. Will write more once set up.

2025
I AM TIRED! Pinchot Pass was much more difficult than I gave it credit for. The 7+ mile climb coupled with a warm sunny day and already tired legs wore me out. The suspension bridge at the start of the climb was awesome: very bouncy. When I reached Sawmill Pass Junction I took a break and dried my sleeping bag and bivy. I chatted with southbounders, then headed up trail and filtered water. As I continued climbing, clouds rolled in, but it never rained. When I dropped down towards Lake Marjorie I met 3 guys who told me there was good fishing & Golden Trout at Evolution Lake and its creek. I stopped at Lake Marjorie and had great fishing. I landed 3 Brookies and a Rainbow. I was hooking up on almost every other cast and even took video for proof. The clouds started to clear and the views of Pinchot and Mather from the lake were amazing! I found a small campsite on a rock outcropping above the 1st junction with the South Fork. If it rains (and I doubt it) there is a rock I could take shelter against. I ate Raspberry Crumble (not great, wouldn't buy again) and tuna for dinner. I filtered water and consulted the guidebook. Trying to reach MTR by midday on day 7 is going to be TOUGH! I am exhausted from putting in major miles and still uncertain if I will arrive on time. I will try to push to at least Bishop Pass junction tomorrow after I go over Mather Pass. Then on Saturday I will go over Muir Pass and get as many miles as I can under my belt. 10 or less miles to reach MTR on Sunday would be great. I want to arrive with plenty of time to hang out and try to make contact with Mom through email and make sure my ride is still on schedule.
After Muir Pass, things look like they will be much easier. The elevation will be lower and the only major pass I will have left is Donohue.

Day 5 Friday 8/24 19.8 Miles AEG 2,934
It got pretty cold last night, but still no rain. My bag and bivy are wet from condensation, but there are no clouds and I will dry them out in a couple of hours. Off to hit Mather Pass and see how far I can make it today!

1023
On top of Mather Pass! This is the earliest I have hit a pass and it is the first time it has been sunny on a pass! There are 3 other people here, two going SB to Taboose Pass and a 3rd going NB.

1157
Taking a break just above Palisades Lakes. Met John & Chris, two NoBo JMT hikers that started at horseshoe meadow near trail pass. They had to exit briefly due to a knee injury, but are back on the trail intending to hike to Happy Isles. They are headed up to Little Pete Meadow approximately 11 miles north of here and invited me to camp with them tonight.

1827 Elevation 8663
Stopped 100 yards south of the LaConte Ranger Station & Bishop Pass trail with John & Chris. Sky was clearer today than any previous day. On to Muir Pass Tomorrow!

2128
Temp is good, sky is clear. Have fire going. Had mashed potatoes + garlic and hot sauce for dinner. Golden staircase was not too bad going down. View into the valley from the top was great. Landed my first 3 Golden Trout at Grouse Meadows today. Found it much easier to keep moving when hiking with others than when solo.

There are two small packages at the trail junction next to the ranger station that are marked for northbound hikers to deliver to the McClure ranger station. Since we seem to be just about the only north bounders (NoBos) on the trail we have taken the packages and will hopefully deliver them tomorrow.

Day 6 Saturday 8/25 15.8 Miles AEG 4,056

0626
Camped on a slope last night so I kept sliding downhill. Very uncomfortable. Waiting for the guys to get up so we can hit Muir Pass and head to Evolution Lake.

1336
At Muir Pass! We met a group of 3 from Salt Lake City who are with Mountain magazine. We told the group about the packages we were delivering to McClure ranger station and their photographer took several pictures of us holding the packages on the pass.

1805 Elevation 9,927 Feet
Found campsite well off the trail below Evolution Lake switchbacks. Fished Little Pete Meadow today and caught a single Golden. Fished Sapphire & Evolution Lakes but didn't catch anything (John caught 1 golden at each lake). Fished the creek below camp tonight and caught 2 Goldens.

Day 7 Sunday 8/26 15.5 Miles AEG 735

0800
Getting ready to leave camp with the guys. Headed to MTR to resupply. I have some pain in my right knee. I hope it will go away soon.

1211
Stopped at second bridge, mostly downhill ahead. Should be about 3 hours out from MTR. John caught 4 Goldens on his first 5 casts in the river. We delivered the packages to the McClure Ranger Station right around 0900. The ranger gave us all snickers bars for our efforts. Two day ground delivery over 18 miles and a nearly 12,000 foot pass isn't too shabby!

1800 Elevation 7706
Picked up supplies from MTR. Checked out the hot springs that John wanted to see (they were terrible) and are now back on the MTR side of the river to camp. When crossing the river to see the hot springs, Chris lost his sandals and almost lost his hiking boots. I was just able to spear the hiking boots with my trekking poles before they floated out of my reach. After spearing his boots, I almost fell into the river myself- pack and all, but just barely managed to avoid catastrophe.

Day 8 Monday 8/27 14.8 Miles AEG 3273

0642
Headed uphill to Seldon Pass today. Last night was good temperature and there is no condensation on my gear. Will Likely Fish Marie Lakes Today. I left camp early without John & Chris, I told them I would wait at Seldon Pass for them

1110
Top of Silver Pass! It was not nearly as hard as I thought, even with a full pack from resupply. Probably the easiest pass so far! Weather is sunny, but with a nice cool breeze! It was a nice change hiking alone and at my own leisure for a while. I fished all 3 lakes on the way up, but only caught 1 golden at the final lake (on 1st cast). Met a group of about 8 girls on the summit who were all about my age and were headed southbound (SoBo) JMT from Tuolumne Meadows on their 9th day. They all cheered and applauded me as I reached the summit. I asked if they were willing to turn around and become NoBo hikers with me to be my personal cheerleaders, but they declined. This morning I met an older man, Luke, who was also a NoBo JMT hiker. He is headed out in a similar time frame as me and I assume I will see him again later today.

1655 Elevation 8954
Camped by Kipp Camp/Bear Creek Trail.

2157
Had garlic mashed potatoes w/ beef jerky for dinner. Also drank hot chocolate w/ dehydrated milk (very good!). Today was long, despite the low miles. We fished Marie Lakes and everyone landed good size brook trout. I caught two, the second was between 12 and 14 inches and the biggest of the 4 we caught. Luke passed us as we ate lunch at the lake and we haven't seen him since. Two SoBos showed up at our camp (an uncle & nephew) and are hiking Tuolumne to Whitney, then returning to hike the Happy Isles segment. The SoBos were out of water purification tablets, so I gave them the backup purification solution I was carrying.
I switched from fishing with kastmasters to John's trout magnet tonight in the river. The results were amazing. The lure is much more lifelike in the water and flows better with the current. I was getting multiple bites on almost every cast and landed several small Brookies.

Tomorrow we will push to Lake Virginia, 20 miles away. The plan is to depart at 0700. I hope we can make it, but it will be tough. The goal is to get close enough to Reds Meadow so we can get burgers on Wednesday. It will also be good to reach a phone & check in with the outside world (internet was too expensive at MTR). I did hear there is cell service in Deer Creek south of Reds Meadow so I may give that a shot. Today was sunny with no clouds. There was a nice cool breeze up to the pass and over to Marie Lakes. After dropping down into the canyon it got warm due to lack of breeze, but it wasn't too bad.

Day 9 Tuesday 8/28 21 Miles AEG 5,178

0648
Preparing to hike to Lake Virginia today. Should be 20 miles & very tough. It got chilly overnight and there is condensation on my sleeping gear, but nothing too terrible.

1500
Top of Silver Pass!

1859 Elevation 10,361
Stopped on the north side of Lake Virginia. Very tired, long day!

2024
Today was long! We took minimal breaks and tried to keep moving at all times. We met Luke near the VVR turnoff & proceeded to leap frog him up Silver Pass. Last time we saw him he was resting approximately 2 miles before the pass. We took a break and filtered water at Squaw Lake. I hooked a trout, but it flipped off as I was raising it out of the water. It appears there is at least one other group camped at the lake with us, but we are separated by a couple hundred yards and can't see their camp. It is chilly now and I suspect it will be cold in the morning. We are headed to Reds tomorrow for burgers, and Chris & John will be obtaining their second resupply package. Then we are likely parting ways. I started the trip solo, and I should finish it solo. We told Luke we were planning to eat at Reds so he may be meeting us there. Quick Note: Tully Hole is not really marked and looks like any other meadow, I am glad we skipped it.

Day 10 Wednesday 8/29 23 Miles AEG 3,486

0820
Leaving Lake Virginia. It did not get very cold overnight and the wind died down after sunset.

1226
Made it to Deer Creek in excellent time. About 6 more miles to Reds. Haven't seen Luke all day, I think we put on too much mileage yesterday and don't think we will be seeing him again.

1946 Elevation 9,298
Stopping for camp just north of Lower Trinity Lake

2049
What a day! Me and the guys got to Reds at about 1540. We had lunch at the cafe- everyone had cheeseburgers. Then we went to the general store. I purchased two bags of animal crackers and some snickers while the guys picked up their resupply bucket (I wanted donuts, but the store didn't have any). The guys stayed at Reds while I pushed on. They were going to take the remainder of their trip easy and I think it was time to part ways: I began as a NoBo Solo hiker and should finish the same way. I pushed hard out of Reds and did much better uphill than I thought I would. I initially felt sluggish from the burger, but felt stronger as I continued up the hill. I am now considering pushing out the last 55 miles or so in the next 3 days instead of 4. I spoke to Mom for the first time since I started and she was already on her way up to Happy Isles from Phoenix. I may try to go over Donohue Pass tomorrow and camp near Lyell Base Camp. Then I could push another 20 mile day over Cathedral Pass on Friday. This would set me up for an easy downhill hike to Happy Isles on Saturday! I have already done two 20+ days in a row though and do not known how much more I can take. My thighs hurt now and I noticed my toes on both feet are sore. They don't feel like they want to bend all the way anymore...?
Today we had clouds developing very fast in the morning. I was getting worried about a possible storm, but they never formed thunderheads. I checked with the locals at Reds General Store and they said weather was supposed to be good over the next couple of days.
There seem to be fewer SoBos every day. I think it is likely because we are reaching the end of the hiking season.

Day 11 Thursday 8/30 21 Miles AEG 4,203

0715
I slept well last night. It was a nice temp and I did not get cold. No condensation in the bag. The sky is already cloudy and the clouds appear to be moving north/northwest. I wonder if they will clear or provide a small storm today? My body is a little sore and my right heel feels as if it has been rubbed raw. I will try putting duct tape on it. Once I hit a lake this morning I will need to filter more water.

1641
On top of Donohue Pass. Very cloudy today, but I guess it's not going to rain. Two trail runners passed me going up to the summit. The runners said they had ran from Tuolumne Meadows over Parker Pass, to Gem, and were now returning over Donohue Pass. I will have to look that up on a map to see what they are describing. I made the runners laugh when I told them they were the only people to northbounders to pass me since Mt. Whitney. For some reason I thought Donohue was over 12,000 feet, so I was happy to find it 1000 feet lower!

1852 AEG 4,203
Stopped for the night. Extremely tired. Whole body hurts. Specifically my left thigh and my feet. All 10 toes feel like they are bleeding. My socks seem to have sand in them that is rubbing my toes raw.

2019
Today was long, but it was a good change to be back by myself again. It's nice to only respond to my body's limits, not the limits of others. I pushed when I had energy and slowed when I didn't. I washed my feet by the creek and they are pretty messed up. The combination of blisters and athletes foot makes them incredibly painful. I have worn sandals since arriving at camp in an attempt to air them out. I usually wear socks to bed, but I will skip that tonight. I figure I can tape my toes with duct tape tomorrow and use Advil to get through the pain. I have about 30 miles left and refuse to quit!

Hopefully tomorrow I won't have any issues following the JMT. I know it goes through Tuolumne Meadows and crosses the highway twice. I hope it's well-marked because my ancient guidebook is confusing.

I am currently in a well forested, large campsite that is well off the trail and nicely hidden. It is a nice temperature right now with a light breeze. There are a couple patches of clouds in the sky, but I can see stars. One of the trail runners told me to expect higher temps in the valley. I wonder if he was just referring to the normal temperature increase associated with lower elevation, or if the weather was actually changing? As long as it doesn't rain I am happy. With Donohue out of the way my final pass will be Cathedral, which is really a big hill and not a true obstacle.

I will need to contact Mom tomorrow and let her know I am exiting 1 day early. No cell service at camp, but I assume I will find some at Tuolumne Meadows.

Off to bed now. It will be nice to sleep to the sound of the river below me in the valley.

Day 12 Friday 8/31 23.1 Miles AEG 2,995

0658
It started lightly raining at about 0500. Luckily the night before I prepared my gear for rain. My pack had all gear inside and was off the ground on a rock. I simply ran over, spread a poncho over everything, then went back into my bivy sack. To protect my sleeping bag from rain through the bivys mesh netting, I simply spread my rain jacket over it. Fortunately it was a light rain and started and stopped every 5 minutes of so. There are still clouds in the sky now, but at least it isn't raining.

Today's plan is to make it over to the backpacker sites just beyond Sunrise High Sierra Camp. This will put me at another 20 mile day and allow me to quickly drop the final 10 miles into Happy Isles tomorrow afternoon.

I have put duct tape on my blisters and hope they don't give me too much trouble today. We shall wait and see...

1918 Elevation 8610
Stopped for the night.

2030
I did the most mileage today of any day of the trip yet! I enjoyed telling people I met that I started from Mt. Whitney 12 days ago and watching their shocked expressions.
I had some slight difficulty following the JMT through Tuolumne Meadows by using my guide book. In the end, the book combined with asking people kept me on the right track.
I had some issue with water source availability when I came through Sunrise HSC. Just before the camp, I met a guy who said "Sunrise" is dry and that the next water was "far" away. I then met an older couple walking to the camp who said they paid for shelter and water & "Sunrise" had water. I assumed that the first guy was referring to Sunrise Lake when he said "Sunrise" and the couple were referring to the camp itself. When I got close to the HSC, I asked a younger couple who was walking through the meadow about water sources. The couple said there was absolutely NO water all the way down to Happy Isles! (They seemed to know what they were talking about, but the trail crosses the Merced River before Happy Isles and they were obviously wrong). The couple then proceeded to try to describe a water source I could locate by walking through the HSC and going off trail "10 or 15 minutes". I tried to follow their directions, but ended up standing in the middle of the HSC completely clueless. I went into the office and explained that I was looking for a water source and the female staff member was extremely rude to me. She kept saying to "follow the trail" to the lakes which I already couldn't locate. I left the camp in frustration and continued heading down trail. I found a small stagnant pool and was getting ready to filter water when I met two hikers headed southbound who told me there was a flowing creek less than an hour ahead at the base of some switchbacks. I followed their directions and located the creek, as well as a Steve: a hiker who was just beginning his full length SB JMT journey. Steve's filter had broken, so I pumped a liter of water for him before continuing my own way and setting up camp.
I am currently camped about 10 or 15 minutes past where I met Steve, still near the base of the switchbacks. I have spotty cell coverage (one bar), but I was able to speak to Mom and confirm my pickup tomorrow between 1000 and 1200 at Curry Village. I think I am only about 10 miles out. My alarm is set for 0530. I will wake up and roll out. No oatmeal for breakfast or hanging out- just heading down trail.
The clouds that were present earlier today dissipated and I had a strong wind blowing to the east. Sky appears cloudless right now and I don't think it will rain tomorrow. Despite the full moon, it is incredibly dark right now due to the thick tree coverage.

Day 13 Saturday 9/1 11 Miles AEG 345

0636
Changed alarm to 0555 since 0530 was too dark. Didn't hear my alarm go off, but was still out of bed at 0600. Everything is packed. Only bringing 2 liters with me down trail. My toes don't hurt like I thought they would. Only taking 2 snickers and a bag of trail mix to eat this morning.

1104
Arrived at Happy Isles! The ending was a little sudden. The trail gradually becomes wider and more crowded with tourists before it ends at an unremarkable stretch of road. I can see how people going SB have a little more to look forward to as they hit the top of Mt. Whitney on their final day and then quickly drop to Whitney Portal. But I made it!!!
Flora
Flora
Lodgepole Pine
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WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

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