I completed my JMT hike earlier this month. It took me 14 days between the 23rd of August and the 5th of September. I wanted do this hike for a while as I heard time and time again that this is one of the "must do" trails. That, and I got tired of westerners posting trip reports with pics of pristine lakes surrounded by 10-12 thousand footers. So I had to see it myself.
I went alone. I needed to take a long trip by myself and this seemed to be the perfect getaway as I have done trails of similar length, but not in a quite a while.
I got to San Fran planning to stay a night and see more of the city ( I had been there once before about 7 years ago). When I arrived after a long plane flight it took me me all of about an hour on the BART to decide I had enough of cities and continued on to Merced. I arrived at about 8-9:00 long after the YARTS bus stopped running. I knew this and its why I planned to stay the night at San Fran but the city switched on my 'fight or flight" response and since there was no one or thing to fight I chose flight. Ok, I was really eager to start the trip and I just wanted to go- and get as close as I could. Damn the details like bus schedules I needed to go. Luckily I meet someone who was also trying to get to Yosemite and agreed to split a Motel room and cab fare so it worked out for both of us.
So that morning we took the YARTS and I got to Yosemite around 10:00, I think. I got a permit and rented a canister. The permit was good as far as Little Yosemite Valley the first night and on to Whitney after that. This worked out as I was too tired to go much further after lugging a weeks worth of food up from Yosemite Valley in the dry heat. I also had to climb Half dome after I made camp. That was my first big view of the trip and well worth the extra effort. I also got to see a brown bear cub on the way up!
Well, so started my trip. It took me a few days ( more like 4-5 ) to get back in trail shape and get used to the really hot dry dusty environment as well as the daily camp/hike routine.
Ill spare you a 14 day play by play. But needless to say I couldnt be more glad I was able to do this trail and encourage anyone who is thinking about it to go ahead and do it! Sure, as always some days were tough and lonely ( it can be really lonely out west!) but I really needed this trip.
Now let me give the run down on my gear performance.
pack- MLD Zip. I knew I was pushing it with this pack but its what I had and I made it work. I stuffed my clothes behind the canister to keep the canister from laying directly against my spine and this worked out alright but I think a pack with a frame would be a better choice both because I carried a lot of food ( I only had 1 resupply at VVR) and because I think a frame would help keep the canister off the back. I fact I saw some Luxury lites and they looked sweet for canister carries. I also wish I still had my BPL Arctic pack -it would have been perfect maybe time to get another one?
shelter- Gatewood cape with cheapo mosquito netting. Its easy to see why the Gatwood will become or is an UL classic. I used it once in the rain with hail -the only time it rained the whole trip and it worked as you would expect a poncho to work but I dint really need to take off the lines. But, Once again I missed my bivy/tarp combo. I thought I would like leaving the bivy at home but 2 things came up. One, I found that in most places on the JMT the mosquitoes were few or nonexistent but the ants in some places were just super annoying! You see ants at home may crawl on you on the way to somewhere else- and its a 'Ill leave you alone/you leave me alone" thing. But in the Sierra the ants crawl all over you. one even found it necessary to bite my lip. This could be avoided with the Serenity shelter though. Two, at the end of the trip it got colder and windy at night. I dont know if it was the altitude or the time of year but a bivy would have blocked the wind and helped me stay warmer. Also I would have loved the option of sleeping under the stars bug free and protected by the wind in a bivy as it didnt rain a single night the whole trip. Its also nice not to have to set up anything and just throw a bivy on the ground and go to sleep. But all that said the Gatewood is the best poncho tarp out there.
Clothing- I was going to wear a Patty merino wool t-shirt but found an old unused supplex nylon ls button up shirt in the closet that I never wore. I think it was a good decision as its really easy to get burnt out there. In fact I got a nasty burn on the nape of my neck where i forgot to put sun block on. The supplex nylon is also wind resistant so I didnt need to bring my wind shirt though it was used as an insulating layer but a warmer bag would have been a better choice. everything else I brought worked out fine -except that I should have brought a warmer bag. That or a bivy to block the wind its hard to know what would have been better.
Cooking- The Caldera stove is my stove of choice bar none. Its so reliable and beyond any stove setup out there. For this trip I got the gram cracker because it would be easier to carry a weeks worth of Esbit than a container of alcohol. I couldnt be more happy with the Caldera/gram Cracker. It was faster and easier than with the alcohol stove.
Now for some pics, I purposefully cut down on the number of pics I took on this trip because sometimes I take so many pics that it feels like I experienced the whole trip through a camera lens. I didnt want that to happen this time and it didnt, still 14 days gets a lot of pics so I cant show them all here. I will eventually get them on Phanefare so people can see them all as well as other trips of mine.