On the trail my dinners were mostly based on ramen, instant mashed potatoes and instant stuffing. REAL bacon pieces were one of my treats as were Jelly Belly.
Critical to a successful hike is footwear and foot management.
What worked best for me in the California dry heat was trail runners and Injiji toe socks. In fact, I left my usual Merrell Moabs in Mammoth after the first 5 days.
I cleaned and cooled my feet as often as possible during the day.
Mid-day I’d stop for about an hour to use solar power to recharge my devices.
In the Sierra Nevada there are plenty of opportunities to wild camp. Set up your tent anywhere not too close to water. … Unless it’s posted.
Late afternoon we had set up our tents … before noticing this sign.
It’s EASY to find fantastic places to tent. Actually.
Many on the JMT stick to the trail, unwilling to miss even a single official step. Not me.
I took 4 side trips:
Reds – Thousand Island lake on the PCT
southern Red Cone from Lower Crater Meadow junction
Goodale Trail to Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) because the boat wasn’t running
VERMILLION VALLEY RESORT (VVR)
On past hikes I’d never made the famed side trip to VVR.
On arrival, the new owners welcome you warmly and offer a free cold beer.
I’m really glad I did VVR this time, taking a ZERO miles recovery day. I met more people there than the rest of the days combined. Found myself at the same table with PhD students and veteran thru hikers.
I stayed for the Saturday night all-you-can-eat barbecue. $26.
Due to drought and low snow fall the previous winter, governments had held back water from Lake Thomas Edison. When this happens, the ferry can’t shuttle hikers to VVR. It’s a half day extra walking.
For me it was well worth the side trip.
I skipped the Ranch.
SUNSET, NIGHT SKY & SUNRISE
Highlights for one and all. Yet I’m disappointed I didn’t take more photos. I should have woken up more often to see the Milky Way.
The story of the southern JMT is climbing a high pass every day.
I enjoyed it. By Seldon I was feeling fit. My feet were great. In fact, I was in the BEST physical shape for hiking at the end of 19 days. It would have seemed EASY to hike back north.
Weather was good — but cold and windy when I reached famed Muir Pass hut.
Navigation is easy on the John Muir trail with most of the popular hiking apps.
I used Guthook and the free Maps.me app.
Another I really appreciated is the free PeakFinder app. You must download the regional data when online as there’s very little service on the JMT.
Of many, many impressive peaks en route — including Whitney — my favourite was Fin Dome.
BOOKS & WHITNEY
The south gets higher and bleaker. I re-read DUNE on this section as it was appropriate to the environment. Hiking alone I was able to finish quite a few audio books, in fact.
Here’s the final push to the top of Whitney.
I was briefly the highest person in the lower 48.
Since the weather was good, I decided to have dinner atop the peak. Stay for sunset. It was very hazy.
A highlight, however, was walking down to Trail Camp on the far side of the mountain by headlamp and moonlight. My only night hiking of the trip.
Next morning I was up for dawn to enjoy my final morning on the John Muir Trail.
Finally down at Portal, we celebrated with the traditional burger and fries. Relived highlights with hikers whom I’d been walking with in parallel for many days.
This time daughter Delaney Adlard joined in the adventure.
In fact, Dave and Lisa were celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary.
We had great weather … on the way up. That’s Mount Hood in the distance.
Dave explained that one difference between hiking and mountaineering is using crampons and/or ice axe.
We set up our tents at the Lunch Counter, a relatively flat portion of Suksdorf Ridge.
Siesta until 3pm. Then we set off towards “Pikers Peak”, the visible false summit that looks close.
It gets steeper.
I loved the clear vistas.
Unfortunately, due to low snow fall and MANY hot days in 2021, Dave had never seen worse snow conditions. We were slow.
In fact, we didn’t quite make the false summit, turning around in time to make it back to camp in daylight.
That night it got very WINDY. None of our 3 tents broke, but we collectively got very little sleep.
Next morning dawned clear again. It was fast and easy downhill on both scree and morning cold ice.
This was Delaney’s personal elevation record.
NEXT TIME we’ll do the middle-of-the-night start with harder snow and ice for the crampons.
Overall, an EXCELLENT adventure. A lot of fun.
Not making the summit was no big deal.
Pro tip — Society Hotel and Hostel in Bingen, Washington — en route to Adams and Hood — is my favourite hostel in the USA, so far. Very cool, you get a complimentary spa and hot springs visit with each stay. That costs $25 by itself.
After a difficult life as a farm wife, mother of eleven children, and victim of domestic violence, she became famous as the first solo female thru-hiker of the 2,168-mile (3,489 km) Appalachian Trail (A.T.) in 1955 at the age of 67.
She subsequently became the first person (male or female) to hike the A.T. three times …