A week on the John Muir Trail

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spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 6, 2012 - 01:17pm PT
“You’re hiking kind of late, aren’t you?”

The words surprised me - accusing words from a disembodied headlamp, flickering at the edge of the the abyss, in the deep, dark chasm on the east side of Muir pass. I had picked up my food resupply at Muir Trail Ranch that morning, which threw me a bit behind schedule and nearly doubled my pack weight to a crushing 15 pounds. I crested the pass in the sunset glow at exactly 7:00 pm, recorded a video detailing my brilliant new resupply strategy, and raced the sun down the back side of the pass. My headlamp went on at 7:27, in what was becoming my evening routine, only this evening there was a tiny sliver of a moon to keep me company. I had 2000+ feet of winding and sometimes tricky descent ahead of me, looking for water and a flat place to sleep, low enough to be out of the wind and warm enough to be comfortable in my summer bag and tarp.

I was OK with all that - I had done this section mostly in the daylight last year, and as a climber I’m no stranger to hiking and descending in the dark. I just didn’t really expect to be scolded for being out late. It was tempting to reply, “but Mom, it’s only 8:00, and it’s not even a school night!”, but I held back. I didn’t remember reading any rules about not hiking after dark, but I was starting to get the feeling that it is frowned upon in these parts. I actually enjoy hiking under the stars, and it would be pretty hard to lose this trail, especially having done it once before. I was surprised how familiar it felt. Even in the dark, much of the trail seemed burned into my memory, like a traveling companion with whom I’d shared an instant, deep connection that would last through the years.

A mile or so and another few hundred feet down, another headlamp spoke to me. This one was concerned as well, but kind enough to ask if I wanted to share his spot. There was something in his voice that didn’t sit right - a note of fear, or nervousness - or was it just that I was enjoying the solitude? Maybe a little of both. And the water was gurgling wildly here, caught up in it’s frenetic, tumbling journey towards the bottom of the dark gorge. Feeling ready for some peace and quiet tonight, I thanked him and continued down in the dark.

I was now over the hump in one respect, but in reality I was just getting started. Muir Pass is past the halfway point in mileage, but it is really where it all starts to get a whole lot harder. I didn’t want to give anyone the chance to try to talk me out of this, or to tell me I was crazy (again). I was psyching myself up for two more days of 30+ miles and two big passes per day, followed by a relatively easy 16 mile day to the summit of Whitney and then down ten miles and 6000 feet to the Portal, to complete the John Muir Trail in under 7 days. This had been a dream and a goal for the last year, after hiking from Tuolumne to Kearsarge pass last summer.

Last year I hiked with Amy, and we only had 10 days - we ended up only being out for 9 days, which was the longest backpacking trip either of us had done, by far. Her pace is slower than mine, and the abundant snow on all the passes slowed us down, so we didn’t quite make it all the way to Mount Whitney. But I had been planning and strategizing ever since then, convinced I could do the whole trail in a week with the right training and preparation. This was my chance, and I was halfway there - it was time to dig deep and stay on schedule.

I was tired when I started. I arrived in Tuolumne Meadows on Saturday morning after a very busy week, short on sleep but excited to hit the trail. I scored a quiet campsite on the G loop and napped for an hour and a half, waking at 1:45 pm to catch the bus to Yosemite Valley at 2:15. The bus driver and the 5 or so “Golden Age” hikers on the bus looked skeptically at me and my little daypack when they realized I planned to hike all the way back up to Tuolumne that evening. I decided it was best not to mention the rest of my itinerary. At 4:30 pm I left the valley on the JMT. I passed lots of people coming down from Half Dome, and a few going up who obviously weren’t going very far - just out for an afternoon stroll. At the pool above Nevada Falls I changed my socks and soaked my feet, and chatted with some college girls on their way down from Half Dome. After that I saw no one for a couple of hours at least. The sun set, darkness fell, and it began to get colder. I walked faster to stay warm. I was alone in the darkness, an ant crawling my way up and out of the massive glacial valley that is Yosemite.

At some point, maybe around 9pm, I came across a campfire and a couple guys chatting. The fire was tempting - but I had hours to go still, and wanted to keep moving. Seeing my headlamp, they asked me where I was headed.

“Tuolumne.”
“You’re not going all the way tonight?”
“Yes, tonight.”
“Why do you feel compelled to do this at night?”
“I’m trying to do the JMT in a week. I’m not sure it will work out but I’m going to give it a shot.”

One of them said he was sure I’d do it, I guess just based on the fact that I was here in the dark going for it. At that point I wasn’t so sure myself, so that vote of confidence went a long way. I’d like to thank that guy, whoever he is.

As it got later, it got damp and cold and lonely. I was wearing everything I had, walking fast and still chilled - I had to keep moving to stay warm. It was way colder than I had expected. It would have been nice to have that extra layer that I didn’t bring. I was wearing 2 shirts, a windshirt, hat and gloves, and walking as fast as I could - probably 3-3.5 mph. And kicking myself for not bringing a warm jacket.

My headlamp batteries faded and died. It was pitch dark in the forest, no moon, not much starlight. I changed batteries using the light of a small flashlight I’d had the foresight to bring along. In the few minutes it took to change them and have some food and water, I started shivering. I really hadn’t expected it to be this cold. My hands were starting to get numb from squeezing my trekking poles. Somewhere around 11pm or midnight I hit a low point - tired, cold, hungry, and wondering what the hell I was doing out there in the dark and just started wishing I could lay down and go to sleep. By 1:30 I made it to my site, shoveled down some food and crashed out till 8:45 am. I hadn’t slept that late in months, but I was exhausted after covering 23 miles and 6000 feet of elevation gain in 9 hours.

On sunday morning I was tired and moving slowly. With some disappointment I realized that I still had nearly 200 miles and 40,000 feet of elevation gain to go, and I was getting started rather late.

I ate my last real breakfast for a week, packed up my camping gear, and moved my car to the permit office. At 11:45 I headed south up Lyell Canyon towards Donahue Pass. There were lots of people heading both ways, most with big packs, and a few day hikers. Around 3:00 pm as I neared Donahue pass, I met a woman with a Nathan pack, running back towards Tuolumne, who stopped long enough to ask what time the Grill closed. I wasn’t sure, but figured she’d make it in time since it only took me a little over 3 hours to cover that distance and she was running, downhill. She was 10-12 miles from her burger, just out for a casual marathon run to the pass and back.

By 4:30 pm I had reached Donahue pass, which meant I had covered 36.4 miles and 7,000 feet of gain from Happy Isles, in exactly 24 hours. And I was just getting started. As I descended towards Thousand Island Lake (mile 43.1), the sunset was spectacular. I was happy, the first day had gone well and I was going to make my goal for the night. I stopped briefly a few times to snap some pictures. Reaching the lake just before dark, I found that I had to hike a ways down the north shore to get to where I could legally camp. I managed to find a spot up above the lake, just as the light was fading. As I approached I realized there was a group of 3 already there, but one of them quickly went into real estate agent/tour guide mode and showed me 2 or 3 different spots nearby that were too small for them, but would be perfect for a solo hiker like me.

Monday morning I was up before the sun. I had some coffee and a hearty breakfast of re-hydrated sweet potatoes and sausage with some veggies and nuts, packed up started off. My tour guide from the night before was just getting up. She asked if I ever ate any hot meals, apparently thinking that there was no way I could have a stove or any decent food in a pack that small. It’s kind of funny to me how many people I encountered who shared her misconceptions. Here I was, out for a week with a 15 pound pack, eating tasty, hearty, organic homemade meals, and everyone else seemed to be carrying 40 lbs and eating Mountain House for 2-3 weeks - and feeling sorry for me!

My goal for the day was to make it to Lake Virginia, at mile 74.6 - this would be my first continuous 30+ mile day. In the morning I passed Garnet Lake, Shadow Lake, Rosalie Lake, Gladys Lake, Johnston Lake, and a few other nameless lakes. Some of the smaller ones were all dried up after the historically dry winter. I went through the dusty and dry Devil’s Postpile in the midday heat, and somehow took a wrong turn that added a mile or so as I left the monument. Getting back on track, I passed by Red’s Meadow Resort and headed up the long ascent to Red Cones, Crater Meadow, and Deer Creek.

It was on this hot and rather tedious climb that I started playing games with myself. I’d look at my altimeter watch and tell myself that I had to gain 500 feet before I could stop to rest for a minute and have a drink. When I reached 500 feet I’d keep going, telling myself I’d just keep going till I found a good rock to sit on. I’d pass a few OK rocks, but none of them were just right, so I’d keep going. Then I’d realize it was 12:48 and decide to keep going till 1:00. At 1:00, I’d notice that I’d gained 750 feet and think, why not just go for 1000? I wasn’t carrying much water anyway, and I wasn’t sure where the next decent water source would be. It was kind of fun being my own drill sergeant. My legs were getting used to all the climbing and I found that I could just keep going if i wanted to.

In the afternoon, I passed the turnoff for Duck Lake, where I took a nice long 15 minute break to change my socks, soak and wash my feet, eat a bar, and chug some water. A couple miles later the sun was setting over Purple Lake. I took some pictures and passed a bunch of people camping there, and kept going. I reached Lake Virginia by headlamp at 7:40pm, and found the ideal campsite in a perfect horseshoe of trees above the lake. I was now feeling fully warmed up, tuned up, and tuned it. I was tired from the long day, but still able to hike fast in the evening, and starting to think I would be able to maintain this pace for the remainder of my trip. I was at 10,338 feet.

I went to bed early, and woke up in the dark on Tuesday morning. By 3:30 I was getting restless, by 4:30 I was up, and by 5:45 am I was on the move. As the sun crept up I plunged down into Tully Hole at 9080’, then powered up past Squaw Lake, Warrior Lake, and Chief Lake to Silver Pass at 10,895'. I reached Silver pass at 8:45 am. There were a bunch of people there, a friendly group with a few teenagers and a couple guys in their 40’s or 50’s. They too were impressed by how small my pack was, and asked if I knew a woman from Berkeley who was also hiking solo, a few hours ahead of me. I took a few pictures but quickly moved on - I had another pass and 23 more miles to go before night. One guy took a picture for me and asked If I wanted more. “No thanks”, I replied, “too many pictures will weigh me down.” With a big smile I took off down the the back side of the pass, light on my feet, moving fast, and having a great time.

I descended to 7870’ and the turnoff for Lake Edison, and began the long climb up to Selden Pass, at 10,880’. I passed a few more people, and they all mentioned the solo woman from Berkeley who was ahead of me. I was starting to get curious, wondering if I’d ever catch up to her. Studying the footprints on the trail, I decided she was tall and wore Lowa Renegades. At 5:30 pm, 73 hours after leaving Happy Isles, I reached Selden Pass, and mile 101.4. I quickly made my way down towards Sallie Keyes Lakes, which are 2 picture perfect lakes at about 10,200', and mile 104 - the halfway point of the trail. I decided to camp there since I had 4 miles to go to Muir Trail Ranch, and I had to get there during the day to pick up my resupply. I passed a couple guys fishing from the lake shore, and kept moving, looking for that perfect site that I knew would be there.

Soon thereafter, I came upon the first woman I’d seen in days. I must have been walking quietly, because she obviously had no idea I was there. She was in the trees, maybe 50 yards away, with her back to me. She was tall and fit, with long, muscular legs, and she wasn’t wearing any pants. I called out to her the only thing that made sense at the time: “Are you from Berkeley?”

She was understandably a bit startled, so I didn’t approach any further. I moved so there were some trees between us while she put her pants on. She came down to the trail and we talked briefly - it turned out she was indeed the mysterious solo woman from Berkeley. She graciously invited me to share her site for the night. This was the first night I stopped before dark, and I was going to have some friendly company too! What luxury! I went down to the lake to wash my clothes and take my first bath in 4 days or so, while she put on more layers. She was wearing vibram five-fingers, and more layers of fleece and down than I’ve seen outside of a Cold Thistle winter bivy pic - and it was about 50 degrees. She told me she was carrying a zero degree down sleeping bag, a BD 2-person single wall tent, and going to bed with a hot water bottle to stay warm. It was getting down to about 40 degrees at night, if that. I was amazed that anyone could need so much insulation - I had been warm enough at night in my 32 degree bag and tarp, and my nanopuff pullover seemed plenty warm for around camp. We chatted a bit over dinner and tea, and then retired to our separate sides of the camp. I was up early as usual, and when I left at 6:15, she was still in her tent. Next to her tent were a pair of Lowa Renegade hiking boots, which I estimated to be a size 10.

At 8:30 am on Wednesday, I reached MTR. I burned an hour on resupply shenanigans, devoured a can of tuna in olive oil, and hit the trail. At Evolution creek I had my first and only “wet” crossing. I took off my shoes, crossed in my socks, changed socks on the other side, and kept going. There were 3 or 4 people changing into their “stream crossing” shoes when I arrived, and changing back to their hiking boots when I left. I found crossing in my socks worked great - they needed a wash anyway.

I passed through McClure Meadow, with the ranger station and the site we’d camped in last year, and headed up towards Evolution Lake. Suddenly, out of the forest came a fast-moving line of about 20 strapping young lads (and a few lasses), looking like they’d been in the wild for months if not years. Their hair was matted and tangled, their clothes worn, their skin bronzed and dirty, and their eyes were wild. They were barrelling their way down the trail, a season of hard trail work and wild living behind them, heading back to civilization. I thanked one of them for their service, and then they were gone. I continued on, wondering what their summer must have been like, the experiences they must have had being out there for so long. I’m sure it changed them for life - how could it not? They looked more alive than anyone I’d seen in years.

After a short break at Evolution Lake, I passed Sapphire Lake, Lake Wanda, and McDermond Lake on my way to Muir Pass. Lake Wanda is one of my favorite lakes on the JMT, and I was tempted to stop and camp there. But I wanted to stay on schedule, and that meant I had to get over Muir Pass (11,995 feet, mile 128) before dark. I made it at 7pm, just after sunset. I knew I had 27 minutes of light and made the most of it, nearly running down the other side. By 8:30 I found a nice quiet campsite in the trees at 10,400 feet, about 4 miles down from the pass, at roughly mile 132. I now had 76.5 miles to go, and would have to do two 12,000’+ passes per day for the next two days to If I was going to finish within a week.

On Thursday morning I was hiking by 5:30am, passing through Big Pete Meadow and Little Pete Meadow as the sun rose, and at Palisade Creek Junction by 8am. I covered the next 11 miles and 4000’ of gain in about 6 hours, passing the beautiful Palisade Lakes and reaching Mather Pass (12,100’) at 3pm. I had the pass all to myself, but didn’t stay long as I still had to go down to 10,800’ and back up to Pinchot Pass at 12,120’ before dark. I reached Pinchot Pass at 6:45 PM, for my 3rd 12,000’ pass in 24 hours. At 8pm I camped about 3 miles down from the pass, in what was becoming a familiar ritual - hit a pass at sunset, then rush down the other side, find water and a flat place to sleep, preferably in the trees near 10,000 ft. Just before I stopped for the night, I was passed by a guy who had lost his sunglasses and was walking back up the trail, looking for them by headlamp. I don’t think he ever found them.

Friday found me up at 4:45 and hiking at 6am, with my biggest day yet ahead of me. I reached Dollar Lake just before 10am, passed Fin Dome, brushed by the Painted Lady, squeezed my way through the Rae Lakes and hit Glen Pass (11,978’, mile 175.3) at 12:20. There were a bunch of guys there on the traditional Rae Lakes loop, as usual marveling at my light pack and ambitious plan. I took some pictures and headed on, knowing I had my biggest pass yet still ahead of me. Forester Pass is 13,180’, and I had to go down to 9515’ and back up nearly 3700’ over 12 miles to get there. I passed by Charlotte Lake and through Vidette Meadow, following Bubbs Creek most of the way. This was nice because it meant I didn’t have to carry water. I was completely alone the entire way from Glenn Pass to Forester Pass, and I was kind of amazed how much energy I still had. I was able to pretty much charge up the pass with only one real break, at around 11,200’, where I pulled out my secret weapon - a Hammer Nutrition “Sustained Energy” packet which said it was “specially formulated for training or competition lasting 2 hours or longer”. At this point I was ready to put the hammer down, so I dumped it in a liter of water and chugged half of it, saving the rest for along the way. The last 2000’ or so to Forester Pass seems to go on and on, and you can’t really tell where you’re headed as the trail winds and climbs improbably over some pretty steep and loose terrain. But eventually it gets there - and at 6:15pm, so did I. This was my 5th pass in 48 hours and I was starting to get tired.

I had now traveled 187 miles in just over 6 days, and had 21.5 miles to go. It did occur to me to just keep hiking through the night, to see how fast I could finish. But I was getting kind of tired, and didn’t really want to miss any more scenery than I had to. I reached Tyndall Creek ranger station/campground at 8pm to find more tents than I’d seen since Tuolumne Meadows. After stumbling around for awhile and getting yelled at by some guy for shining my light on his tent, I found a secluded enough spot to crash. I knew at this point that I could finish the last 16 miles before my 7 days was up, as long as the weather held out, and I didn’t do anything stupid. The guys on Glen pass had told me there was a storm coming in on saturday, so I decided to get up early and try to be on the summit of Whitney before noon, just in case the weather got nasty later on. I ate, set my alarm for 3:30, and went to bed.

By 2:45am I was wide awake and ready to get going. By 3:30 I was on the move, the only person awake in the sea of tents - last in, first out. I made good time, stopping every 2-3 hours to eat a bar, daydreaming of summit glory and a nice juicy burger at the portal store. I made it to Guitar Lake by around 8am, and practically ran up from there. At 10:40am - 6 days, 18 hours, and 10 minutes after leaving Yosemite Valley - I reached the summit of Mt. Whitney, at 14,495’ both the literal and metaphorical high point of my trip.

As usual there were a bunch of people on the summit, including a Japanese guy who had taken 3 weeks to do the JMT and a kid from Lee Vining who was starting at Whitney and heading north, intending to go cross country and climb a bunch of 14ers along the way. There were a couple guys who were planning to camp on top and the usual hordes who had started at Whitney Portal. I hung out on top for 40 minutes or so and headed down. The trail down from Whitney is the hardest part - continuously steep, rocky, over 100 switchbacks, and it just goes on forever. 10 miles and 6000’ later, I reached Whitney portal at 3:51pm - after a total of 218.5 miles in 6 days, 23 hours, and 51 minutes from Yosemite Valley.

The sign on the store said “Kitchen Closed”. This was somewhat disheartening, but as it turned out it was the 25th anniversary of the store’s opening and they were having an All-You-Can-Eat Prime Rib Feast for $8 - complete with all sorts of veggies, salad, corn on the cob, chips and guacamole, free wine and margaritas and 5 different desserts.

I am pretty sure I got my money’s worth. After 3 or 4 plates of food and a few margaritas, I started looking for a ride back to Tuolumne. Not having much luck and not really wanting to spend another night out, I called Amy to let her know I had made it, and asked her to call a local taxi/shuttle guy to pick me up. Four hours and $280 later I was back at my car in Tuolumne. Another 5 hours, 2 cups of coffee and an In-N-Out burger got me home around 1:30 am, at which point I’d been up for nearly 23 hours. It sure was nice to take a shower, put on some clean clothes, and sleep in my own bed that night. Although between the excitement of having finished the JMT, the vivid memories of the amazing landscapes flashing through my mind, and 2 cups of coffee coursing through my veins, I don’t think I slept all that well.

In summary, this was an incredible experience, and a dream/goal achieved after more than a year of dreaming, planning, strategizing, and occasionally training. One of the most continuously demanding and most rewarding experiences of my life. And one absolutely amazing trail through the heart of the Sierra Nevada.


This is my itinerary and some stats:

Goal - my first complete JMT, in 7 days or less.
Started Saturday Sep 15 4:30 pm - Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley
Finished Saturday Sep 22 10:40 am - Mt. Whitney Summit
(Arrived at Whitney Portal store Sep 22 3:51 pm)

Day 1 - Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne campground, 4:30 pm - 1:30 am.
9 hours, 23 miles. (Carried hydration pack only)
Day 2 - Tuolumne meadows to Thousand Island lake. 11:45 am - 7:25 pm.
7 hours 40 minutes, 20 miles.
Day 3 - Thousand Island Lake to Lake Virginia. 7:00 am - 7:40 pm.
12 hours 40 minutes, 31.5 miles
Day 4 - Lake Virginia to Sallie Keyes Lakes. 5:45 am - 6:30 pm.
12 hours 45 minutes, 29 miles
Day 5 - Sallie Keyes Lakes to MTR to 3 miles past Muir Pass. 6:15 am - 8:30 pm.
14 hours 15 minutes, 28 miles.
Day 6 - over Mather and Pinchot passes to 3 miles past Pinchot Pass.
5:30 am - 8:00 pm. 14 hours 30 minutes, 30 miles.
Day 7 - through Rae Lakes area over Glen Pass and Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek.
6:00 am - 8:00 pm. 14 hours, 30 miles.
Day 8 - Tyndall Creek to Whitney. 3:30 am to 10:40 am summit.
7 hours 10 minutes, 16 miles.


Total elapsed time: 6 days, 18 hours, 10 minutes (162 hours 10 minutes)
Total hiking time: 92 hours (including all breaks)
Total Mileage Yosemite-Whitney 208.5 miles
Average Mileage per 24 hours: 30.9
Average speed: 2.26 mph (including all breaks)
Total elevation gain: 46,000 ft (roughly 6571 ft/day)
Total elevation loss: 38,000 ft (roughly 5428 ft/day)
Age: 39 yrs 11 months
Starting body weight: 156
Finishing body weight: 151 (after massive prime rib dinner at portal store!)
Total energy bars eaten: 35
Fuel canisters used: 2, small size.
Total pack weight with 4 days food (days 2 and 5): 15 pounds
Total Blisters: 1
Average hours sleep per night: 5 or so
Number of times needed alarm to wake up: 0
Average excitement level: 11+
Average number of breathtakingly amazing views per day: Infinite
Number of times accused of being crazy: can't remember
Most number of passes in 48 hours: 5 (Muir, Mather, Pinchot, Glen, Forester)
Number of high altitude math errors: 5.4
Total Iodine tablets used: 4
Total number of times I wished I had brought more stuff: 1 (on day 1)
Total tonnage of horse/mule dung: incalculable.
spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 6, 2012 - 01:21pm PT
Pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/118424083453076535963/JMT2012
Gene

climber
Oct 6, 2012 - 01:22pm PT
Day 1 - Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne campground, 4:30 pm - 1:30 am.
9 hours, 23 miles. (Carried hydration pack only)
Day 2 - Tuolumne meadows to Thousand Island lake. 11:45 am - 7:25 pm.
7 hours 40 minutes, 20 miles.
Day 3 - Thousand Island Lake to Lake Virginia. 7:00 am - 7:40 pm.
12 hours 40 minutes, 31.5 miles
Day 4 - Lake Virginia to Sallie Keyes Lakes. 5:45 am - 6:30 pm.
12 hours 45 minutes, 29 miles
Day 5 - Sallie Keyes Lakes to MTR to 3 miles past Muir Pass. 6:15 am - 8:30 pm.
14 hours 15 minutes, 28 miles.
Day 6 - over Mather and Pinchot passes to 3 miles past Pinchot Pass.
5:30 am - 8:00 pm. 14 hours 30 minutes, 30 miles.
Day 7 - through Rae Lakes area over Glen Pass and Forester Pass to Tyndall Creek.
6:00 am - 8:00 pm. 14 hours, 30 miles.
Day 8 - Tyndall Creek to Whitney. 3:30 am to 10:40 am summit.
7 hours 10 minutes, 16 miles.

Good on ya!!! Day 7 sounds hard.
ClimbingOn

Trad climber
NY
Oct 6, 2012 - 01:50pm PT
Very well done! I may just have to give this a shot...
ß Î Ř T Ç H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Oct 6, 2012 - 01:59pm PT
http://picasaweb.google.com/118424083453076535963/JMT2012
ms55401

Trad climber
minneapolis, mn
Oct 6, 2012 - 02:00pm PT
I am going to quote Michael Lewis, from Liar's Poker:

That is f*#kin' awesome. I mean f*#kin' awesome. I f*#kin' mean f*#king awesome. You are one Big Swinging Dick, and don't ever let anyone tell you different.



That is a great job, man. Nicely done, and thanks for writing that up for my and everyone's benefit

spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 6, 2012 - 02:31pm PT
This being the internet, I'm not sure if that last comment and the Michael Lewis quote was meant as lavish praise or sarcastic denigration. Either way I'd say the quote is a bit over the top, but I'll take it.

I'm definitely not the first to do the JMT in a week - it's been done in 3.5 days or so and I'm sure many people do it in 6-8 days every year - but it was something I've wanted to do for a while and I'm glad I did it. I wrote it up because it was an amazing experience for me, and I didn't want to forget the details. And to hopefully inspire others to go for it. I'm not some "big swinging dick", I just like to cover a lot of ground quickly.

I should thank Jeffrey Kosoff from Berkeley Ironworks - he is the one that first inspired me to do the JMT, and to do it relatively fast and light.
johntp

Trad climber
socal
Oct 6, 2012 - 03:28pm PT
Check out some of the JMT threads on backpackinglight.com

Spidey's time is impressive, but knott the best. There is a competition for time on the JMT similar to the Nose.

Edit: Cheers Spidey! No offense meant.
spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 6, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
none taken! I wasn't going for the record by any means...those guys are nuts! :)
John M

climber
Oct 6, 2012 - 04:43pm PT
Pretty wild. I have done some long runs in the high country, but never a backpacking trip that fast. I was more of the 10 mile a day, get 20 miles or so back in there and stay for awhile kind of person. I do know about covering some miles in a day though, and it has its good feelings. 40 miles is my longest hike in one day. 30 miles is my longest run.

I would love to know what you slept in that it was able to fit inside such a small pack.

Edit: I'm still laughing at the weight that you carried. I was hard put to get my pack below 50 pounds, and 65 or 70 pounds was not unheard of for longer trips. My pack alone weighed 8 pounds.
spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 6, 2012 - 09:24pm PT
John,

I slept in a Mt. Hardwear phantom 32 down bag (22 oz), on a Neoair pad (12 oz), under a BD betalight tarp (19 oz). I also used a 1.5 oz polycro groundsheet and 8 titanium/carbon stakes that weigh 1.5 oz all together. So my whole sleep system was 56 ounces or 3.5 lbs and packed up pretty small.
Roughster

Sport climber
Vacaville, CA
Oct 6, 2012 - 09:54pm PT
Damn awesome man!
dee ee

Mountain climber
citizen of planet Earth
Oct 7, 2012 - 01:18pm PT
Cool, sounds like great fun!
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Oct 7, 2012 - 01:23pm PT
Kudos, seriously.
But what do you tell the Tool when he asks you if you have a bear canister? ;-)
labrat

Trad climber
Nevada City, CA
Oct 7, 2012 - 05:55pm PT
"I reached the summit of Mt. Whitney, at 14,495’

Did it shrink? I believe it's 14,505' At least that's what I was told when I was on top a couple of weeks ago......

Thanks for the report! Enjoyed it and the JMT is officially on the list :-0
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Oct 7, 2012 - 08:41pm PT
Really cool Spidey!


What kind of footwear are you using?

I can go 2-3 miles in approach shoes without a thought, but on multiple milers, a big set of boots (Asolo 520) protects my soles much better. But for something like this, is light right, or is stiff footbed with good shank better for longevity?

Nick

climber
portland, Oregon
Oct 7, 2012 - 08:54pm PT
Wow, Impressive. Congratulations. Do you have a gear list you could post or perhaps a link?
johnboy

Trad climber
Can't get here from there
Oct 7, 2012 - 09:51pm PT
Job well done, top notch report.

Many thanks for all the beautiful pics too.
spidey

Trad climber
Berkeley CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 7, 2012 - 10:35pm PT
I did have a bear canister - a small one called the BV450 that weighs about 2 lbs. I wore La Sportiva Raptors which were great - I did get a blister on my left heel on the 4th or 5th day but I took care of it and it didn't really slow me down.

For me a burly trail running shoe like the raptor works well for this kind of trip. I find boots too stiff, restrictive, hot, and heavy for most of what I do. (snow/ice excepted). I like a shoe that breathes, has decent rock protection, is relatively light and flexible but still has good support and cushion. The Raptors are the best I've found so far. I find they are too stiff and have too much heel for extended running, but I love them for hiking (with a little bit of running here and there on the downhills).

I'll try to post my gear list soon. thanks for all the positive comments!

I'm not sure how tall Whitney "officially" is...I've seen about 3 different numbers in different places, so I'm not going to worry about it.
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
the crowd MUST BE MOCKED...Mocked I tell you.
Oct 7, 2012 - 10:44pm PT
thx Spidey! I'll take a look at those or something like them.

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