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Muir Pass to Selden Pass - JMT - 3 members in 7 triplogs have rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
7 triplogs
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7 Triplogs
Aug 19 2018

 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
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 08 2017

 Routes 28
 Photos 1,661
 Triplogs 20

48 male
 Joined Apr 05 2013
 Peoria, AZ
Onion Valley to Happy Isles, CA 
Onion Valley to Happy Isles, CA
Backpack avatar Aug 08 2017
Backpack172.00 Miles 31,180 AEG
Backpack172.00 Miles14 Days   2 Hrs      
31,180 ft AEG29 LBS Pack
1st trip
This was my solo northbound journey from Onion Valley to Mammoth Lakes, CA and then from Tuolumne Meadows to Happy Isles northern in Yosemite Valley to complete my final 160 miles of the John Muir Trail. I hiked for 172 total miles over 14 days which included the entrance in from Onion Valley, 8 alpine passes, and some side trail mileage done at Muir Trail Ranch, Red's Meadow, Devil's Postpile, and Tuolumne Meadows.

The original plan was to hike for 18 days straight, meeting up with a friend on day 11 who would join me for the last 7 days. Part of that final week would be spent covering 4 days of trail that I had already completed back in 2015. When my friend had to cancel after I was already on the trail, I chose to take 4 zero days in Mammoth Lakes to heal my feet and enjoy some luxuries. I reconvened with the JMT for the final 3 days of trail that I had yet to complete, making this a 2-section adventure all in one trip to close the gaps of the remaining miles of this amazing trail.
Named place
Named place
Mount Williamson
"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
Jun 15 2015

 Guides 28
 Routes 315
 Photos 9,172
 Triplogs 874

39 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA 
JMT-Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney, CA
Backpack avatar Jun 15 2015
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.
Fire Burn Area & Recovery
7 archives
Jul 18 2014

 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,442
 Triplogs 1,640

 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
John Muir Trail - North Lake to Onion Valley, CA 
John Muir Trail - North Lake to Onion Valley, CA
Backpack avatar Jul 18 2014
Backpack100.95 Miles 19,920 AEG
Backpack100.95 Miles6 Days         
19,920 ft AEG
1st trip
The time came for another trip into the Sierras. My plan was to continue the John Muir Trail from my point of exit last year, Piute Pass. I had an extra permit and Karl was down. I made all the arrangements and the days leading up to the trip flew by. I strained my ankle a year ago and I was hoping to finish the trail this time. I was up front with Karl letting him know we might have to bail early. We would take it day by day and exit if we had to. Things were going well on the trail until our sixth and final day. On the way down from Glenn Pass, I felt the back of my right foot tighten up. The strain of the trip finally caught up to me & I knew this was the end. We were near Kearsage Pass that leads to Onion Valley. This is a short exit only 7.5 miles. We spent the afternoon slowly hiking out. Along the way I met a backpacker named Dale and he agreed to drive us to Lone Pine and have dinner together. We wholeheartedly agreed. After dinner we made the return to Phoenix and that was that. I’m disappointed but this is what I expected. I’ll return next year to finish the final stretch.

The following is a day by day trip report.

7/18/2014 - 16.69 miles, 2,471 AEG - North Lake to Piute Bridge
Our trip started from North Lake which is west of Bishop, CA. We hired a shuttle run by Paul Fretheim and left Karl’s vehicle in Lone Pine in the baseball field lot. We started hiking around 11am and made our way towards Piute Pass. I exited this way last year under heavy smoke. This time the air was clear and sunny. The views along this section are magnificent! This area is called the Humphreys Basin and you could easily spend a long weekend exploring. The drainage feeds into Piute Creek and that flows toward the JMT into the South Fork of the San Joaquin River. We covered the 17 miles ending around 7:30pm and we selected a campsite on the east side of Piute Bridge. We turned in around 9:30pm.

7/19/2014 - 17.03 miles, 2,992 AEG - Piute Bridge to Evolution Creek
The day started with a six mile roundtrip hike to Muir Trail Ranch to obtain our resupply. It was a smooth and quick process. We returned to camp and reorganized and then started the hike into Evolution Valley. This has been the top section on my looking forward to list and it didn’t disappoint. The canyon you head up is beautiful and surreal. The going is relatively easy as you slowly gain elevation. After a few miles we reached a set of steep switchbacks and we started the hike up into Evolution Valley. Within a mile of reaching the top we came to wet Evolution Creek crossing. I removed my trail runners and put on flip flops and crossed. The water came up to my knees. It was a smooth crossing. Karl crossed barefoot and had a little of difficulty but made it across just fine. Soon after a light rain started falling but didn’t last long. We pushed on and camped at the bottom of the switchbacks below Evolution Lake. We found a sweet site down and away from the trail nestled in an open lodgepole forest. The elevation was 9,960 and fires were permitted below 10K ft in Kings Canyon so we had a fire this night. We turned in around 9pm when some rain started falling. Karl said it rained to 1am.

7/20/2014 - 17.26 miles, 2,493 AEG - Evolution Creek to Le Conte Canyon

We initially woke to clear skies as we dried out our gear. Within an hour some dark clouds moved in and we quickly packed up camp. We started hiking at roughly 8:30am as the skies darkened. Our goal is to cross Muir Pass at just under 12K ft elevation. We made our way up the switchbacks as rain started fall. That rain soon turned to hail followed by thunder and lightning. We were approaching tree line so I stopped to wait for Karl hoping the lightning would pass. The temps dropped and I was soaked. Karl caught up soon after and we hung out. A group of three girls from the Bay area came by while we waited out the storm. We chatted with them for a bit and they continued. We followed soon after as I felt better the lightning passed. It had but the rain and cold continued. We hiked with the girls for a bit but the weather was too wet and soggy to make things enjoyable. After several miles the rain tapered out as we made the climb towards Muir Pass. You could see the shelter from a couple of miles away. Those last two miles were every man for himself as we left the girls behind. I arrived at the shelter and took a long break inside. Karl and an older woman also joined me. This is a great shelter from the elements. Fortunately the sun was shining now.

After our break Karl and I continued to the northeast as we dropped into Le Conte Canyon. The downhill really takes its toll. My knees and ankles hurt at the constant step downs. We stopped at Shark Rock for some fun picks. We continued down and it wore us out. We selected a campsite near the bottom of the valley. We had a big day ahead of us. The plan was to climb over 4k ft over Mather Pass.

7/21/2014 - 18.56 miles, 4,385 AEG - Le Conte Canyon to South Fork of Kings River

We woke to a beautiful and sunny day. This time it would last all day and for the remainder of our trip. Although nice out, our tents were soaked in dew. I had coffee and oatmeal and then packed up my wet tent and started the long hike towards Mather Pass.

The first few miles are easy going as you head through forest. Soon you come to some switchbacks and lots and lots of work! We much effort we reached the Pallasade Lakes. We took a long break there and took out our gear so it could dry off in the warm sun. After our break we started the grind up to the pass. The hiking was slow and difficult. The pass looked so close but was a tease. I rested numerous times as I neared. Finally I arrived and instantly sat down. While I waited for Karl I sent off a Spot Check In message. A handful of people were watching. I checked in at each pass and each camp we made.

Karl joined me soon after and the two of us made our way down the south side of Mather Pass. We headed for bottom of the South Fork of the Kings River and sent up camp near the river. Once again the mosquitos were a pest. They were fine during the day but annoying each night. Our camp was at a bit over 10k ft elevation.

7/22/2014 - 16.41 miles, 4,047 AEG - South Fork of Kings River to Arrowhead Lake
We woke to another beautiful day. I generally woke each morning and 6:45am and immediately started breaking down camp. Karl and I both had a system for tearing down camp that worked for us. I woke and broke down my sleep system… Sleeping Bag, liner, pillow and air pad. After that I ate breakfast and took care of personal hygiene like brushing teeth and inserting my contacts. I then finished packing up camp and was ready to hike at roughly 8am.

We had a solid climb ahead of us as we headed towards Pinchot Pass. The climb took a lot of work but was much easier than Muir and Mather Passes. I arrived at Pinchot Pass to a young ranger and a couple from Germany. We had small talk as I set off another Spot Check In. He didn’t ask for my permit. Karl soon joined me and we started the descent towards Woods Creek. The initial drop is smooth with breathtaking scenery. After a few miles the terrain worsens and the descent steepens. With much effort we arrived at the bottom of the canyon. Here is the suspension bridge that only one hiker at a time can cross. I went first and noticed two planks split in half. Several other planks are completely missing. I carefully crossed. Karl went second and the bridge twisted as he crossed over. Good fun.

From there we started our hike up towards Glenn Pass. We wanted to climb 2k ft and camp at one of the lakes. We slowly made our way up and initially arrived at Dollar Lake. All the sites were taken so we continued the half mile to Arrowhead Lake. We got lucky and got a prime site overlooking the lake and it included a bear box. Arrowhead Lake sits at roughly 10,300 ft elevation. Mosquitos were bad again.

7/23/2014 - 15.10 miles, 3,519 AEG - Arrowhead Lake to Onion Valley
This will be our last day in the Sierras. I have been hyper aware of how my body was responding this entire hike. I had good health to this point but knew it could change at any moment. We had another routine morning in camp. I left a bit ahead of Karl and started the hike up towards Glenn Pass. I soon passed Fin Dome and Rae Lakes. This is another breathtaking lake in the high Sierra. It sits at over 10,500 ft. I continued on and slowly made my way towards the Pass. Glenn Pass sits at just under 12k ft. Once again I set off a Spot Message. Karl and I then started the hike down and towards Forester Pass. We talked about crossing it today if we had the energy.

Along the way down we passed a 12 year boy with his mom. He was suffering altitude sickness and was still climbing toward the Pass. He didn’t look well. Karl told them they need to descend but she would not have it. They continued up and we headed down. We soon reached the upper Kearsarge Pass trail. There was also a lower trail about a half mile ahead. I knew this was our last exit. I did a quick mental check on my body’s health. I felt okay. Ankles and knees were achy but okay. We continued on and right as we reached the lower junction I felt the back of my right foot tighten up. I knew it was grim. We continued another half mile downhill and each step hurt more than the previous. I know my body and knew I couldn’t continue. We had another 40 hard miles ahead of us. The decision was easy. I told Karl and we took a break to assess the situation. There was no doubt I was done.

We returned to the lower Kearsage Pass trail and started the hike out. Each step hurt and I counted the minutes to the Pass. It looked far but I covered the distance within an hour or so. Once at Kearsage Pass I took another break and talked to a few other hikers. There was a guy named Dale on his way out. I told him our situation and he offered us a ride to Independence. He was initially going northbound from there. We hiked down together and chatted about craft beer and books and the Grand Canyon. He then said he would take us to Lone Pine if we would join him for dinner. We gladly accepted. An hour later we reached his vehicle and that ended our trip. We had dinner in Lone Pine and said our goodbyes to Dale. From there Karl and I made the return to Phoenix and were home around 2:30am.
Fog Sunset
Jun 29 2014

 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
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.

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!
Jul 21 2013

 Guides 6
 Routes 174
 Photos 5,442
 Triplogs 1,640

 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
John Muir Trail to Piute Pass, CA 
John Muir Trail to Piute Pass, CA
Backpack avatar Jul 21 2013
Backpack131.57 Miles 30,022 AEG
Backpack131.57 Miles8 Days         
30,022 ft AEG40 LBS Pack
1st trip
So a lot went down on the trip. Basically the JMT was a dream at first and then the smoke moved in from the Aspen Fire. It got very heavy and was ruining my trip. I set a hard pace averaging around 19 miles per day. It was too much for my ankle and I ended up straining it on day 5. I continued on for another two days but it only got worse and I had no choice but to bail. I hiked out Piute Pass and met two fishermen that drove me back to my jeep. They were both a lot of fun!

Here is my trip report by day. Enjoy and message me if you have any questions about the John Muir Trail. I highly recommend the hike. It will change your life!

Day 1 - July 21 - 13.41 Miles, 6,735 AEG
My trip is off and running! I started from the Half Dome parking area around 7:30am. Chumley, Larry and Haley saw me off. Thanks for the help with the shuttle! My plan is to hike the 220+ miles to Mount Whitney over the next two weeks. My jeep is waiting for me at Whitney Portal.

The start of my hike was uneventful. I followed the JMT up and passed Nevada Falls. I’ve been to this area several times before so I cruised on through. I continued to the Half Dome junction and then headed east and took my first break at Sunrise Creek. The water was flowing cool and clear. During my break a group of a dozen people from Sacramento joined me. We chatted and they shared some food with me. They were good company.

I continued my solo hike on the JMT and followed the trail up and up. I was planning on pushing all the way to Sunrise High Sierra Camp which is over 6,000 ft of gain from Yosemite Valley. Along the hike up I took another break next to a creek at roughly the 10 mile mark. I still had another 1,000 ft of elevation to gain before the camp. I was running low on energy. After my break I continued and started following switchbacks up. During this ascent some rain started falling and got heavier. I stopped and busted out my rain coat and pack cover. I geared up and continued in relative comfort as the rain increased. Within an hour the rain stopped and I then reached the camp. I was done for the day and picked out a site that was close to potable water and a bear locker. My site had a fire ring but the area was too wet to start a fire. I turned in early after eating dinner and writing this journal. It was a good and exhausting day. Day two will be much easier.

Day 2 - July 22 - 20.68 Miles, 2,560 AEG
I woke around 7am and had coffee and oatmeal. I had a good night’s sleep and I feel strong! I plan on hiking 20 miles to the base of Donahue Pass. I want to stop in Tuolumne Meadow at the grille and then pass through Lyell Canyon. Most of this hiking is flat and I should make good time.

I started my hike and made my way to Cathedral Pass. The view of Cathedral Peak and Cathedral Lake is just awesome! I continued as the trail drops in elevation on the way to Tuolumne Meadow. Along the way I hiked with an Ian from Sacramento. He was a lot of fun. We parted ways at the grille where I had a breakfast sandwich. It was too early for lunch. From there I headed towards Lyell Canyon. About two miles in a ranger stopped me to check my permit. I continued and rain started falling again. Once again I busted out my rain coat and pack cover. From there I did a mixture of hiking and stopping when the rain got heavy. Eventually the rain died down and I started the climb towards Donahue Pass. Along the way I talked to some North Bound (NOBO) hikers and they said there is a great camping area up ahead. I pushed on and reached the camp situated next to a river with a bridge over it. I thought about going over Donahue Pass but decided to wait until the morning.

This was a hell of a day! I feel like I really hit my stride today as I hiked over 20 miles. I feel very confident on this hike. Too confident in fact.

Day 3 - July 23 - 17.81 Miles, 4,212 AEG
It started raining last night around 9pm and continued for a few hours. I woke this morning to dry weather but the clouds look ominous so I quickly packed up camp and started the hike across Donahue Pass. My plan was a 17 mile day and I would camp somewhere in the Minarets near Thousand Island Lake or Garnett Lake.

I started the climb towards the pass and a lite rain started falling. Once again I put on my rain coat and pack cover. I do not have rain pants and I never missed them. The hike to the pass includes numerous switchbacks and lots of water. This area is truly breathtaking. I wish I could take my time but the clouds and rain are making me nervous so I continue. After much effort I reached Donahue Pass where I took a few pics and then started down the south side. I did not like the weather and wanted to get to lower elevation right away.

I was now in the Ansel Adams Wilderness. This area is very rocky and lush with lots of small ponds and creeks. Most of the vegetation is brown after a dry summer. Today the area was soaked from the rain. I continued my trek and passed over Island Pass which is unmarked. As I continued I could see Banner and Ritter Peaks to the south. I would pass near those two and what a treat that would be. They are spectacular! I continued and headed toward Thousand Island Lake. The JMT skirts next to it and the views are once again jaw dropping! I could spend days in this area!

Next up was Garnett Lake and I took an extended break there. The lake sits below Banner and Ritter and what a site it is! I soaked my feet in the cold water as I ate my lunch and reflected on the past few days. The JMT was everything I hoped it would be. I’m in heaven! I hiked a few more miles and called it a day at Gladys Lake. There was no one else around and Gladys sits next to a deep valley. I could see Mammoth off in the distance and I had cell signal. I sent off a few texts letting people know I was okay. Afterward I had dinner and turned in for the night. After I laid down I heard a pack of coyotes howl. They were very close and it was a little unnerving. I had to remind myself they wouldn’t bother me. I was asleep soon after.

Day 4 - July 24 - 20.29 Miles, 3,666 AEG
The start of Day 4 was a little concerning for me. Smoke moved in during the night. I had no idea where it was coming from. I had my breakfast and coffee and started the hike towards Reds Meadow near Mammoth. I planned on taking a break there and would treat myself to a cheeseburger and fries. I would also charge up my phone and camera. I planned on camping south of Reds Meadow.

I started the descent down the JMT and the smoke grew heavier. After a couple of hours I passed a NOBO hiker and he said the fire is to the west and the smoke is drifting in. The JMT is open! I continued hiking and passed through The Devils Postpile which was choked in with smoke. I continued and stopped at Reds Meadow where I ate a burger and downed several glasses of soda. The burger was good but upset my stomach. During my break I charged my electronics and once again made contact with people back in the world.

After Reds Meadow I continued hiking and cruised up the trail that once again was gaining elevation. My belly was full and I was highly caffeinated and made good time. I slowed after five miles and my energy crashed as I continued. I eventually reached Duck Creek where I found a small campsite situated next to the creek. There was a family hanging out nearby. I struck up a conversation with them. They were spending eight days along the JMT and had several kids with them that ranged in age from 8-12. They had a ton of food and shared quite a bit with me. They turned me on to chocolate covered espresso beans which were amazing!

I turned in for the night as soon as it got dark. I was exhausted from the long day. My plan for the next day is to hike over Silver Pass and then camp near the junction with the Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR). I’m 50-50 on heading to the resort. We’ll see.

Day 5 - July 25 - 17.82 Miles, 3,329 AEG
The morning started off clear. I said goodbye to my neighbors and started my day. I passed Purple Lake in roughly an hour. It was another beautiful lake! There was a group of eight starting their day as I passed. I continued and started gaining elevation as I approached Silver Pass. Along the way I passed Squaw Lake. It sits at roughly 10,500 ft and is just stunning! I noticed over in a far corner a group of “active adults” skinny dipping. Needless to say I kept my distance.

I carried on and soon after I topped out on Silver Pass. You actually hike above the pass and then drop down to the actual pass. Once I was on the south side of the pass I stopped for lunch which would be cut short due to more rain moving in. Once again I put on my rain coat and pack cover and started making my way downhill. As I was hiking downhill I felt a slight tweak in my ankle. I didn’t think much of it. The smoke also returned and grew very heavy and ruined my views. I talked to two NOBO hikers and they said there wasn’t any smoke on the south side of Seldon Pass but that was two days ago.

I continued on and arrived at the junction with VVR. The smoke was extremely heavy in this area. I wanted to go over to the resort but figured the smoke might be heavier because it was closer to the fire. I settled in for the night and had oatmeal and trail mix for dinner. Such is life on the JMT.

Day 6 - July 26 - 21.26 Miles, 4,712 AEG
I woke early and started hiking right away. I wanted to get away from the smoke which was a little better this morning. From the VVR junction, there is a hardy climb of 2,000 ft in less than four miles. I made my way up as I ate espresso beans I got from my neighbors a few days earlier. The climb up wasn’t too bad.

The JMT levels off for a bit and then starts a modest descent for a few miles. I cruised through this section and then started the climb up to Seldon Pass. I took my time as I made the climb up and stopped for a few short breaks. My ankle was bothering me a bit. I continued on and reached Bear Creek. My feet got a little wet as I crossed this creek. This was the first time I got my feet wet on the hike. It was not a big deal.

With a lot of effort I reached Seldon Pass and took a long break. During that break another SOBO hike named Sean reached the pass. We would hike together for the next few miles.

I finished my day at the Muir Trail Ranch. I arrived right after it closed. I’ll check on my resupply in the morning. I was very glad to be done because my ankle hurts a lot. It’s only getting worse. I set up camp in the backpacker’s camp and enjoyed dinner with a few other backpackers like myself. I really enjoyed their company! I may take a zero day tomorrow. I want to see how my ankle feels in the morning. I’m about halfway done.

Day 7 - July 27 - 16.05 Miles, 4,726 AEG
My day started at the Muir Trail Ranch but would end in a very unlikely place. I started my morning by hobbling over to the ranch to pick up my resupply. I arrived at the ranch and asked for my resupply and patiently waited about ten minutes. Finally the girl comes out and says they have not received my resupply. It turns out the Post Office got my bucket mixed up and it arrived a week later. The good thing about MTR is they have lots of extra food and gave me first dibs on some missed out resupplies. My bucket will eventually be given away to others in my same circumstance. I grabbed a variety of food including snickers and dehydrated meals. I had plenty of food.

I walked back to camp and my ankle was very uncomfortable. Every step hurt and I noticed some swelling. After a lot of soul searching and internal debate I admit my ankle is in bad shape and I cannot complete the JMT. I will need to exit the trail and return to Phoenix. I know I can still hike so I chose a 20 mile route that exits over Piute Pass. This will take me to Bishop and I know I can find a ride to Lone Pine and then back to my jeep at Whitney Portal.

I started hiking around 11am and reached the Piute Bridge and officially left the JMT. At this point I turned to the northeast and followed the trail that runs parallel to Piute Creek. The smoke from the fire was extremely bad today. My hiking up this canyon was very slow and uncomfortable. I took four ibuprofen and took a lot of breaks. The terrain was fairly steep and very rocky. My ankle hurt with each step and I knew there was no way I could have finished the JMT.

It started drizzling around the 12 mile mark. Piute Pass was roughly 3 miles away and the North Lake trailhead was over 7 miles. My goal for the day was to cross Piute Pass and then camp one last night. I continued in the rain and was hiking at roughly 10,000 ft when I saw a flash of lightning. This was very unnerving and I decided to throw my tent down to wait out the storm. I found a flat area nestled in some trees. Right as I started setting up my tent the skies opened and it started pouring! I erected my tent as quickly as possible but everything gets soaked! I get inside my tent with backpack and all and start wiping down the water with my bandannas. I’m cold and wet and it’s pouring outside and the lightning is very close. I see a flash and hear the report 2-3 seconds later. The lightning is close! I sit in my tent for the next 30+ minutes as the storm finally tapers off and moves on. I’m very cold and it’s about 6:15pm. I decided I need to warm up and the best way to do that is to move so I hastily pack up my gear and start hiking for Piute Pass. I know it gets dark around 8:45pm so I have some time.

Once again I’m on the move. I took four more ibuprofen and start moving at an aggressive pace. I’m full of adrenaline. Luckily the skies are clear and the trail is wet but easy to follow. The miles tick by as my adrenaline and energy crash. Within an hour or two the pass comes into site and I struggle the last stretch. Right below the pass there is Summit Lake and I see several different backpacking groups there. This feels very reassuring for me seeing others in the area. By now my body has warmed up and I know I’ll be fine. I crossed Piute Pass at 11,400 ft and then dropped down a few hundred yards on the other side and grabbed the first flat spot I saw. Dusk was setting in as I set my tent back up and finished drying it out with two bandannas. I then got my sleeping bag out and lay down to sleep. Right after closing my eyes I heard a mountain lion roar nearby. I figure I’m on its turf. I made a bunch of loud noises and then played some music on my iPhone’s external speaker. After ten minutes I shut it off and slept!

Day 8 - July 28 - 4.16 Miles, -1,846 AEG
I woke early and had a look around at my surroundings and must say this place is spectacular! I’m surrounded by peaks and high walls. Water is everywhere. It’s quite a sight to behold! I have some breakfast and then pack up my gear. I know this is the last time I’ll do this on this trip. I hope to be home later tonight. My plan is to hike out and then hitch hike back to Lone Pine and Whitney Portal. I know I’ll get there.

I pick up the trail right where I left off last night. I’m heading downhill and there are steps carved into the trail. Each step hurts my ankle. It reaffirms my decision to exit the JMT. I proceed slowly and the sun rises and warms this drainage. I continue and up ahead are two guys fishing. I notice they both have large backpacks and figure they spent the night out here. We strike up a conversation and I tell them of my situation. They are brothers named Jim and Rick. One is from Havasu and the other is from San Diego. They were spending a long weekend fishing in the area. They tell me they are driving south and will drive me to Lone Pine. I was so humbled and gracious they would do this for me.

We spent the rest of the morning together as we discussed healthcare reform, the navy, family and my JMT experiences. We hiked out the last four miles to North Lake and then drove down into Bishop. After a couple of quick stops we headed south on the 395. I texted family and friends to let them know I was coming home early. As we neared Lone Pine Jim asked me where the turn off was for Whitney Portal. I directed him to it and said he could drop me off and I would hitch hike up to my jeep. Jim immediately said “we’re not going to abandon you like that”. This is one of those comments that moved me so much that I will remember it to my final days on this earth. We drove up to WP and it started to rain which was a fitting conclusion to my trip. Once up top they drove me to my jeep and we said our goodbyes. I offered them some gas money but they said to pay it forward. Thanks guys you’ve made a big difference in my life and I will never forget you!

So that ends my JMT journey. I learned a lot about… the wilderness, about slowing things down, about pacing, about people and how wonderful total strangers can be and most importantly I learned a lot about myself. This was one hell of a trip and I will return to finish what I started!
1 archive
Aug 20 2012

 Guides 34
 Routes 249
 Photos 2,196
 Triplogs 591

35 male
 Joined Aug 16 2006
 Portland, OR
Mount Whitney 14,505Sierra Nevada, CA
Sierra Nevada, CA
Backpack avatar Aug 20 2012
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

Started while still dark

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.

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

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!

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

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!

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.

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

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.

Top of Silver Pass!

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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!!!
Lodgepole Pine

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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