David 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!
One 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.
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.
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.
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?
Last 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.
Earlier this week I went up to Red’s Meadow with Neil to resupply David. Red’s Meadow is a small oasis in the wilderness that has a pack station, campgrounds, a general store and a cafe. It’s a perfect place for hikers to grab a shower and something to eat other than dehydrated hiking meals and trail snacks. The food at the cafe is really good, even if you haven’t been on the trail for days. For the backpackers, it gives them what David likes to call “an emergency calorie reinfusion”. As you can see from the picture, David is enjoying ice cream, one of his all-time favorites. Their homemade pie is pretty good, too!
I’m getting ready for the first re-supply trip to David . A friend and I are heading up to Reds Meadow tomorrow to bring the next five days’ worth of food and supplies. We’re also bringing some things that would be difficult to backpack in, specifically a pineapple upside-down cake. This re-supply is a drive-up and will take about 6 hours on the road, so it means an overnight stay at the backpacker’s campground, but no hike in to deliver the goodies.
While we were at Yosemite for the beginning of the JMT 2014 hike, I was able to get my Senior Pass. This pass is a lifetime pass that lets you into over 2000 recreation sites, including all of the national parks. US citizens who are 62 or older can get the pass. It costs $10.00. Mine has already paid for itself!