JMT: The Aftermath

Once I finally made peace with leaving the John Muir Trail via Kearsage Pass instead of  the traditional Mt. Whitney finish, I started looking forward to what came next: food, television, and a real bed.

I tore down camp and finished my descent to the Onion Valley parking lot. The steep, downhill hike of endless switchbacks under a hot sun was the last trail I had to tackle before I could relax. And it was unbearable. Continue reading “JMT: The Aftermath”

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JMT Day 14: Exiting the Trail

Date: 8/31/17 | Miles Hiked: 3.5 | Passes: Kearsage

Today I had to make a difficult decision, and I hope it was the right one.

A knee problem that started as an ache on steep descents had morphed into a pain that had me practically crawling out of my tent each morning. So, after pushing through five days with a quickly deteriorating left knee, I finally called it. I was exiting the trail. Continue reading “JMT Day 14: Exiting the Trail”

JMT Day 13: Is the Storm Coming or Going?

Date: 8/30/17 | Miles Hiked: 14 | Passes: Glen

I needed today to be good. I was coming into the home stretch of this hike, and my body was feeling it.

My knee continued to get worse, with a sharp pain during the day morphing into a debilitating stiffness in the evenings and early mornings. My energy level started dipping quickly; at this point on the trail I felt like I needed to eat constantly.

And to make things even worse (**squeamish alert to males who can’t handle the thought of basic female biology**) my birth control pills had started dissolving in their packaging. My body was starting to feel like the frantic licking up of what had become birth control powder was useless.

I couldn’t stop thinking about Forester Pass and whether or not I’d summit Whitney. Staying in the present proved impossible. I needed to have a good day. Continue reading “JMT Day 13: Is the Storm Coming or Going?”

JMT Day 11: It’s Nice to Have Clean Clothes

Date: 8/28/17 | Miles Hiked: 9.1

Zero days and nearo days — days when hikers take off or take it easy — are common on thru hikes. Today was a nearo day for me.

I had planned to hike to Palisade Lakes to position myself just a few miles from Mather’s summit. Climbing to the top of passes was most ideal when done at the beginning of the day, which is why Palisade was the perfect spot for me to camp. The day looked to be an easy one with the exception of the Golden Staircase, a brutal climb based on things I’d overheard from other hikers. Continue reading “JMT Day 11: It’s Nice to Have Clean Clothes”

JMT Day 10: Over the Muir Hump

Date: 8/27/17 | Miles Hiked: 16.4 | Passes: Muir

I started my day with Muir Pass.

The trail from the north side was nice, gradually bringing me up and past a number of lakes until the inevitable switchbacks. I locked my sights on the famous Muir Hut as soon as it became visible and used it as a mental boost to push me up the final, steep ascent. Continue reading “JMT Day 10: Over the Muir Hump”

JMT Day 9: Hike at the Speed of Beauty

Date: 8/26/17 | Miles Hiked: 11.4

Today was a treat yo’self day.

Feeling good about my progress on the first half of the trail, I decided to reward myself with a late start, a hot breakfast (oatmeal for the win!) and a short day of hiking. Most of the day consisted of gradual uphill hiking, with two big switchback climbs helping me gain about 2,500 feet of elevation. Continue reading “JMT Day 9: Hike at the Speed of Beauty”

JMT Day 8: Hump Day! Reaching the Halfway Point

Date: 8/25/17 | Miles Hiked: 16.2 | Passes: Selden

This day wasn’t what I needed it to be. What was supposed to be a joyous occasion — the halfway mark and a resupply at Muir Trail Ranch — left me feeling disappointed. Continue reading “JMT Day 8: Hump Day! Reaching the Halfway Point”

JMT Day 7: The Trail is 50% Mental

Date: 8/24/17 | Miles Hiked: 17.3 | Passes: Silver

It’s fitting for me to come to this portion of my hike on Halloween. Why? Because it includes my scariest night on the trail.

Night 6 and the Mystery Neighbor

I woke up on night six to the sound of twigs breaking. Any feelings of grogginess were immediately trampled by my racing heart as the rustling noises continued.

Something was outside, and it was approaching my tent. Continue reading “JMT Day 7: The Trail is 50% Mental”

JMT Day 6: Deja Vu, But Reversed

Date: 8/23/17 | Miles Hiked: 14

The sounds of coyotes paired with a particularly chilly evening made for a difficult night’s sleep. A thick layer of frost on my bear canister in the morning made me feel justified for freezing in my tent the night before (apparently I needed proof that it was cold?).

Today’s hike took me along a section of trail my husband and I had done northbound last year. I already think about him often on the trail, and today he was on my mind constantly. Continue reading “JMT Day 6: Deja Vu, But Reversed”