Sunday, December 8, 2013

Planning for the John Muir Trail in 2014

The John Muir Trail starts in Yosemite Valley and ends at the top of Mt Whitney. I have only ever hiked about  ten miles of its two hundred eleven mile length. That hardly qualifies as a John Muir trail hike, so for all intents and purposes I haven't hike it, yet. I am thinking that this might be a fun trip this summer. It looks like I might not be the only one who thinks so as you have to make reservations in advance.

One of the challenges of this thru-hike is how to get to and from the ends of it. It's like a smaller version of the full PCT hike. I will include a resupply or two in the middle to experience that and I will be hiking in the opposite direction of most of the PCT hikers so perhaps I'll meet a few of them.

I am wondering if planning for a twenty-one miles-a-day pace might be too optimistic. It is all above eight-thousand feet with strenuous climbing up and down passes that are over ten thousand feet. Mount Whitney is over fourteen thousand feet. I figure it is only a plan, and I think it is a plan with an aggressive schedule. The worst case is that I end up hiking slower than I want to. It just seems to me that the middle of summer has around sixteen hours of daylight which seems like plenty of time to hike twenty-one miles. My plan calls for me to do the whole hike from Yosemite Valley to Whitney Portal in eleven days. Currently I have a single resupply planned for Vermillion Valley Resort with a short 'rest' day planned for that day.

What I don't know about is the snow conditions and the snow-melt conditions. According to those that have been there, the crossings of some of the creeks and passes can be quite challenging in the earlier part of the season. That being said, a later date is probably a safer bet than an earlier date. However the earlier date will allow me to experience a typical PCT thru-hiker's conditions. That is if any particular year could be considered 'typical'. I am leaning toward the earlier date as it seems that it'll be more challenging than the later. I am thinking and planning all of this now because the reservation process. I can reserve my permit one hundred and sixty eight days in advance which means January for a July trip and February for an August trip.

Logistics is another challenge. Since it's a thru-hike, when I finish I won't be anywhere near where I started. So how will I get to the starting trail-head and get home from the finish trail-head? I will have some shuttling to do unless someone were to drive me to and from the start and finish. I really don't anticipate having any volunteers to drive the four hours to my drop-off point and the six hours to my pick-up point. Even if my wife wanted to do that, I don't know if I want her to have to drive all that time, both trips being round-trips.

I think driving a vehicle to Lone Pine and then riding the buses to Yosemite Valley is what I am going to do. In order to hit the bus-stops at the right time I think I am going to over-night in Mammoth Lakes. I will end up in Yosemite Valley around noon, which means I probably want to arrive the day before I start hiking. I can stay in the hiker camp that first night for free. After I pickup my permit I might have a little time to do some sight-seeing in Yosemite Valley, which is an awesome place to see the sights. All-in-all this should turn out to be quite an adventure.

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