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”
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”
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?”
Preparing for a backpacking trip involves spending a lot of time and money on gear. The research and cash that goes into all those lightweight items in your backpack can become overwhelming. But not everything has to be as complex and pricey as buying the perfect tent. Some of the tiniest items can make a big difference on your backpacking trip. Continue reading “5 Small Items that Made a Big Difference on My Backpacking Trip”
Date: 8/29/17 | Miles Hiked: 16.9 | Passes: Mather, Pinchot
Well, I really did it this time. So much for my one pass per day plan. You can see from my notes above that I made my way over two, count ’em, two mountains today. Continue reading “JMT Day 12: A Decision Driven by Hunger”
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”
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”
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”
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”
I like to consider myself a person who can handle life without my cell phone and all the glorious technology it offers better than the average human.
I can leave it in a different room for a good chunk of the day. If I forget it at home when I go to work or run errands I only have a split-second panic attack. I can easily go without it when camping or spending time with friends.
I have the ability to sit in nothingness and just think or observe without reaching for a device to scroll. Growing up with a tendency to get lost in my own thoughts helped me master that dying art.
This is why I was surprised at how often I reached for my phone or glanced at my GPS watch while backpacking the John Muir Trail. Continue reading “Are We Doomed to Phone Addiction… Even in the Backcountry?”