Back to the Real World

Whitney Summit 2014I’ve been back from the John Muir Trail for a couple of weeks now, and I’m still not over the experience. It was simply the most amazing hike I have ever done. Before I left for the hike, I worried a bit about spending three weeks in the backcountry. I knew that some folks got a bit wonky after a week or two, so I kept my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t be one of them.

Not to worry. The longer I spent on the hike, the more comfortable I got being away from civilization. At the end of the hike, I really wished I could spend more time on the trail, and since I’ve gotten back, I have felt the draw of the trail like never before. I want to grab my backpack and get back out there!

The highlight of the trip (if there is such a thing on a hike that spectacular) was my summit of Mount Whitney. This hike marked my third summit, and I guess the third time truly is the charm. The weather was perfect all day long, which meant no worries, no hurries going up. I felt better at Trail Crest (13,000 ft elevation) than I have ever felt before, and I felt even better than that when I reached the summit (14,500 ft elevation). It was probably the most perfect day of hiking that I have ever experienced.

Liza is hard at work editing footage from the hike, and we’ll be sending out an email to all of our contributors soon, with a link to the finished video. Thanks again to all our contributors, and thank you to The Alliance for a Healthier Generation for all the good work that you do, and for being a part of the coolest hike that happened this summer!

David Summits Mt. Whitney

582473_10151775634279754_1735443713_nDavid summited Mt. Whitney today, Tuesday August 19, 2014 at 10:20 AM PDT. The summit of Mt. Whitney marks the official end of the John Muir Trail. David texts: “To the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, it has been an honor to be your goodwill ambassador on this hike.”

Congratulations to David on his completion of the John Muir Trail!

Tent Mixup

Backpacking_TentOne of the great things about backpacking the John Muir Trail these days is the new technology available. David and I are able to text back and forth because of it, and that’s how I know where he’s camping each night. There are a few drawbacks, though, and one is that text messages can be misinterpreted.

For instance, there was the day I got a message saying that he’d lost his tent. My first reaction was “Well really, how on earth do you lose a tent?” Nevertheless, I took myself to good old REI (what would we do without it?) and picked up a one person backpacking tent that I planned to take on the next resupply trip.

I just happened to ask David if he was cold without a tent, and to my surprise, he texted back that “LOL, don’t need a tent, the tent bag was all that was lost”! Obviously, that was good news and actually pretty funny. So the new tent went back to REI, and just to make the extra trip to the store worthwhile, I picked up a couple of things for myself.

Last Resupply

Kearsarge Pass
Kearsarge Pass

This past weekend I went on the final resupply for the JMT 2014 hike. This trip began with a drive from Orange County to Independence and an overnight stay at the Onion Valley campground. The next day, I hiked over Kearsarge Pass, which has an elevation of 11,709 feet. From there, I hiked over to the John Muir Trail and did the resupply, camping overnight at Charlotte Lake. The next day I hiked out and came home. I hiked this portion of the John Muir Trail with David last summer, and we summited Mt. Whitney.

At Muir Trail Ranch


We got to Muir Trail Ranch not long before David. Muir Trail Ranch is an interesting place. They have a few amenities, but it’s mostly for JMT hikers to resupply.

As I mentioned earlier, most hikers send their own fresh supplies to Muir Trail Ranch well before they start on their hike. They pack their things into large buckets, like the ones you see at Home Depot or Lowe’s. Then they send them via the US  Post Office. They put their expected arrival date on the bucket. Each hiker has a claim check that they use to redeem their bucket.

It’s possible to stay at Muir Trail Ranch in a tent cabin, which means you can get a shower and a hot meal. Otherwise, you can camp, but that means you can’t get a meal in their cafe or a shower. There are some hot springs in the area, though, and several folks were taking advantage of them. When we were there, the campground was very busy.

Trip to Muir Trail Ranch (or Planes, Trains and Automobiles of the Backcountry)

Kaiser Pass Road

This past weekend  I went to Muir Trail Ranch to resupply David . It sounds much simpler than it was. Muir Trail Ranch is in the middle of both the hike and of the backcountry. It’s primarily a place where hikers on the John Muir Trail pick up food and supplies that they have mailed to the ranch well before they hike. Not very many JMT hikers are resupplied in person mainly because resupply is pretty much a full time job.

To get to Muir Trail Ranch,  I started off with a 7 hour drive north from home to a place called Florence Lake. The last 17 miles of the trip were on Kaiser Pass Road, a one-lane road up the mountain with blind curves and drop offs in places. It was an adventure all by itself (but then why should David have all the fun?) From there you take a ferry across the lake and finally hike 4.5 miles to Muir Trail Ranch.  Then I reversed the process on Sunday to get home.

Needless to say, I was a welcome sight and it was worth the trip, especially since Sunday the 10th was David and my 40th wedding anniversary. Who’d have thought in 1974 that we’d be spending it this way?


Resized Garmin_62s_60CSx_comparedLast week when I resupplied David at Red’s Meadow, he had been having problems with his handheld GPS device. So he asked me to bring an older GPS that we still have.  I packed it up with the other fresh supplies and gave it to him. By then, he’d been able to fix the problem with his newer GPS, so he wanted me to bring the older one home. When it was time for me to head home, he couldn’t find his newer GPS. We were both certain it was in his pack somewhere, but to be on the safe side, I left him the older GPS. I got home later that day, opened my own backpack, and the newer GPS was in the top. Sure am glad I left the older one with him and also glad he thought it was funny.

More Double Dipping!

IceCreamConeA big thank you to Meg Rist, who donated early in the JMT 100×100 campaign. Meg just made another contribution equal to her first. She tells us that David’s bungee jump inspired her. That means we have three double dippers!

And we’d also like to thank everyone who has donated to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation  on behalf of David’s JMT 2014 hike. It’s never too late to make a donation if you haven’t done so yet. Just go to .