JMT 2016: First Section (7 days), Cottonwood to Rae Lakes
Day -1: We drove to Tuollumne Meadows and camped in the backpackers campground. This was our first night sleeping at 10,000′, and even though we didn’t do anything physical, we hoped just spending the night at that elevation would help acclimate us. It was pretty uneventful, camping wise.
JMT 2016: Second Section (7 days), Rae Lakes to Muir Trail Ranch
Day 9: I was reminded all night that I would prefer to sleep in my long underwear, but the night before I had washed ALL my clothes. I was in my sleeping bag nekkid. My clothes were draped over every branch of all the trees around out camp, so it looked like the Beverly Hillbillies were camped here. They had not dried much overnight, and were still quite damp. I put on my damp clothes, and had some oatmeal and coffee before we hit the trail. We took one last look at the Rae Lakes and peak called Painted Lady. Read more
JMT 2016: 3rd (4 days), Muir Trail Ranch to Reds Resort
Day 15: Our camp was in a backpacker pigsty about .25 miles from Muir Trail Ranch (MTR). It was a pigsty because behind every tree was a cluster of toilet paper and poop. Absolutely gross. We had breakfast, and headed over to the MTR entrance. MTR has a fence around it, and a gate that said “Open at 8, closed at 5” or something like that. We were on time, so we walked in. There were several log buildings there which were a shed for managing hiker buckets, an office, a dining hall, and a residence and some employee dorms. There was also a grassy area with a table and a shade tarp, and benches on one side with buckets filled with donated food from hikers. Read more
Day 20: Clean and happy, we had breakfast at the cafe at Reds Mountain Resort. It was wonderful, and we carboloaded for a few more days of strenuous hiking. We took a short bus ride to Agnew Meadow, and started hiking there at 9:45, saving a few miles of uneventful trail around Devils Postpile.
In 1971 my younger brother Mike and I planned a 28 day trip on the JMT, with 12 people. Some people might be interested in our trip as a view into backpacking practices, philosophy, and technology in those days. Current travelers on the JMT have seriously lighter loads than we could accomplish in the 1970s, and they cover many more miles per day than we did, but one thing different about our trip was that we climbed 17 Sierra peaks, did a lot of fishing, and had layover days.
1st week: Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow Resort:
By late afternoon, we had all regrouped and departed from the trailhead near the Tuolumne Meadows campground. We were filled with anticipation of the adventure that lay ahead and yet also trepidation as to whether we (and our equipment) were up to the challenge. There were no cell phones, and many times during the trip we would be as many as 24 hours away from assistance. Read more
Second week, JMT 1971
After we got our food supplies at the Reds Meadow Resort food drop we had to pack our trail lunches, which included meat (salted and sliced dried beef ) from a glass jar, a chunk of cheese about 3″ x 2″ x 2″, one chunk per day, peanuts, raisins, candy bar, and iced tea mix. After our experience the first week, a lot of our people were buying extra food such as powdered milk, cereal, French bread, instant pudding, bread mixes for baking, and extra candy for lunches. By 3 PM or so clouds had built up and by 4 PM we were ready to take off. We wanted to get away from Reds Resort a few miles and make camp before it rained. Read more
3rd Week: South Lake to Onion Valley
Conrad and Steve were pissed that the whole group except them had gone down the road to a cafe, and pigged out on wonderful food. To make it up to them they were promised a free breakfast and shower at the café the next morning, but they still felt betrayed. I guess if we were thinking we would have brought them something the night before. God it was good to be full of good food. What a peaceful sleep we had! Read more
4th Week: Onion Valley to Whitney Portal
Day 22: After the drunken blowout at the Onion Valley cafe, the next morning we went in the cars of Ken Primmer, my folks and Kevin’s family to Big Pine for breakfast, and to restock on extra food and to replace worn out equipment. I had a fantastic greasy breakfast, and it totally filled me. Read more
Doing the JMT is easy. Selecting the gear is easy if you have been backpacking some. The hard part is logistics and choosing and packing food, which is the subject of this post. For our 2016 JMT, we had a 7 day section that we’d start with seven days of food in our packs from Cottonwood. We’d meet up with horse packers at Charlotte Lake and get another 7 days worth of food, which would last us to Muir Trail Ranch. There we would pick up 4 days worth of food to get us to Red’s Meadow. There we’d pick up 3 days of food to get us to your exit point, Tuollumne Meadows. Read more
My gear is ever changing, but for the JMT hike it was pretty similar to this group of gear. This photo is Jim’s gear, which includes the tent we shared. I carried the stove and cookset. We both carried solar panels and batteries, also bear canisters, chairs, and similar clothes. The base weight (gear in the pack, but no food, fuel or water) of my stuff was just shy of 20 lbs. If you figure 2 lbs of food per day, on the stretches when we carried 7 days worth of food, my max weight would be 34 lbs, plus 16 oz for fuel, and one liter of water. Read more
I guess preparation for hiking the whole 220 miles of the JMT started about 7 months before the start of the hike. At that time I had to figure out an itinerary and how many days I would commit to the hike. You need an itinerary because when you apply for a permit you have to specify where you will camp each night. Once you start on the trip, you can camp anywhere, but for the permit you need an itinerary. Read more
We had a family backpack in which wife Tuckie, son Jim and girlfriend Jenna, myself, daughter Laura, Kevin Anderson and his daughter Jenna, and my old hiking partner Conrad participated. The destination for the first day was Thousand Island Lake, in the Mammoth area. We were reminded of how out of shape we were as we struggled up the dusty trail on a hot day, bound for 10,000′ Thousand Island Lake.
Ever since I hiked the John Muir Trail with my brother and friends in 1971, I hoped to do it again. Doing it with my kids would be a dream. In August 2012 I set off with Kevin Anderson, a participant on the 1971 trip, who has been joining my son’s scout troop on backpacks for 4 or 5 years. We also had with us Josh Edvalson, and 4 scouts including my son Jim. Read more
My brother Mike and I drove up and down the Owens Valley many times, and we were always struck by the impressive view of Mt. Williamson, near the town of Independence, California. Ansel Adams took a striking photo of Mt. Williamson and we always wanted to find the site of his photo some time. I was in Owens Valley last week and had the time to find the site of the photo, so Kevin Anderson and I set out to find it. Read more