The JMT preparation is going full swing. I pulled a few full days of research and planning during which I read or re-read the two trail guides I purchased, and a ton of trail journals of other hikers’ JMT trips. I made color copies of our map pages, posted them in Jake’s room, and have begun adding mileage notes to the re-supply points. It is an interesting tool to look at the trip this way.
We still have several unknowns, some of which may remain unknowns until we get to Yosemite Village and talk with the rangers. I have found some more up-to-date sites for information on facilities and such at some of the potential resupply locations and the news is a mixed bag. This year’s snowfall has been 50% less than usual which is good for us. Some of the more dangerous river crossings should be more manageable than expected. But the storms took out two of the major power transmission lines that feed the first two resupply points and it is unclear as of now whether or not these will be open.
There are four standard resupply points for the JMT; Tuolumne Meadows, Red’s Meadow Resort, Vermillion Resort, and the Muir Trail Ranch. One of the challenges to consider is that between Muir Trail Ranch and the Southern Terminus at Mt Whitney (about 110 miles), there are no resupply options near to the trail. If you are not interested or willing to leave the trail, this means that you have to carry about 10 days worth of food out of Muir Trail Ranch. In addition, Muir Trail Ranch does not have a standard gear/food re-supply available. Mostly it is just a really expensive place to do a mail drop resupply. Because of all that, many JMT thru hikers skip the Muir Trail ranch and carry 12 days of food from Vermillion Resort.
Jake and I like neither of these options. Luckily, neither do many of the PCT thru hikers and the PCT guides have loads of detailed info on the best ways off of the trail to the best points to access towns for resupply runs. Jake and I are going to go that route. I have found one already, but I need one more. Going off trail to do these runs adds a day or two to your total trip length per stop, but that does not really bother us.
I have been splitting my time between planning and conditioning. I am still not in fantastic shape and am working on shedding some pounds – but I have been regular with my stretching routine and floor exercises. The past 10 days or so, I have done all but one of my hikes with my full pack and at least 35 pounds. I did get my own trekking poles and am really pleased with them. In addition to the added stability and taking some the strain off of the knees, I like how they get your upper body and arms more involved in the hiking.
Just yesterday I did my first hike in who knows how long in shorts instead of pants. I can’t really consider this back east because I am ultra sensitive to poison ivy, super prone to contracting it, and despite that – utterly useless at identifying and avoiding it. But that is not really a problem in the Sierras. Much of the time we will be well above tree line anyhow. It felt great to hike in just some thin running shorts. This move will end up helping me out on added pack weight due to clothing as well.
In these last 11 days or so until we leave, I will continue to read and re-read the guides and journals to make note of more campsite locations, stretches of lesser water availability, places of higher bear activity, and when we are likely to approach the more difficult river crossings so that we can hit them early in the day before the day’s snowmelt swells the streams and increases the strength of the current.
I did a nice 9.5 mile loop yesterday, with a 40 pound pack, that has about a 1,200 foot elevation gain over the first 3 miles. Today is writing and planning with a milder walk in the evening. Tomorrow Jake and I will drive up to Flagstaff and summit Mt Humphries – an 8.5 mile round trip with a 3,500 ft elevation gain. Monday or Tuesday we will do one of Jake’s favorite Grand Canyon hikes – 17 miles round trip down the Bright Angel to the Colorado River and back out on the South Kaibab trail. This is a drop about 5,000 ft climb about 5,000 ft trip.
That’s it for now. Rock out!