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First Thru Questions
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Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
First Thru Questions on 07/25/2011 12:53:16 MDT Print View

I have some questions pertaining to my first through hike, which will be the JMT at the start of August. They're probably silly, but as I've only done weekend treks, I'd like to ask them anyways.

1) How often do you guys wash? I don't mean bathroom wash or before eating wash. I guess I'll be explicit and say I mean crotch/pits. I'm taking one pair of running shorts with an inner brief and slightly concerned about this, hah.

2) Is it usually a wash cloth bath, or if you can do you prefer to take a swim (I understand this isn't okay to do WITH soap, but maybe water + wash cloth).

3) Is it okay to take just shorts on a trek? I realize I have to take suntan lotion, but man, long sleeves (which I'm taking) + pants makes me burn up inside and sweat like a cold beer taken out of the fridge. I realize the JMT is "on-trail". I guess my main concern is if I'm going to regret it due to cold or due to being very cold setting up camp. I don't plan to night hike much if at all. Im bringing sleep long johns, wondering if I can just make that first priority when setting up camp instead of bringing pants too. Also, I hate zip offs (they rub!).

4) How often do you take zero days? Is it out of need or just want? I have 14 days to do 220 miles so I'm debating on whether or not to try for 20-22 mile long days + zero day every 3-4 days, or just reducing my overall per day amount and making it continuous.

5) Is it pretty easy to find and send postcards from resupply points? I'm planning on Muir Trail Ranch but wondering in general.

6) Given the high snow year, would it be a good idea to take ice axe and something like microspikes? I'm leaning towards no but my sense of self preservation is kicking in and making me ask. This thinking has already got me to add a trekking pole into the equation...

Thanks! Silly things I know but I wanted to get the answers anyways =)

Edited by Trout on 07/25/2011 13:13:59 MDT.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: First Thru Questions on 07/25/2011 14:39:02 MDT Print View


Not a silly question at all...better to ask and find out vs. being miserable.

Jeremy, Cameron, and I are going to start the JMT the 2nd or 3rd of August...we have a permit for two of us and need a walk up for 1 or 3 of us.

So might see you out there on the trail.

Our training trip in 2009 was the Tahoe Rim Trail....from that trip, I learned that I like to wash up as much as possible.

For sure, I would want to bathe after three days.

My hope is that I can wash self in the groining area for sure on any day where I have a bowel movement...going to try out the techniques listed by Mike Clealand in his new book.

I do carry a small wash cloth for wiping down my whole body, but I am not keen on using it to wipe my butt without a good washing before hand.

I don't hike with shorts, so I can not answer that one for you.

We are planning to take a Zero Day at Vermillion Valley Resort on our 7th or 8th day out or just when we get there.

Do you need to take, if you are feeling good.

However, one aspect to factor, if you have the vacation time, is the experience of being there with your fellow backpackers and just having time off the trail to eat "real" food and have a beer, etc.

In the past, we have taken a faster pace...15-20 miles per day...sometimes more.

But on this one, we are delibertly taking a slower pace of 15 miles per day to enjoy it more vs. rushing through.

I think I have also enjoyed the trips where I have done more than 15 miles per day, but I have to say that a little slower pace that is less hard on the body is not a bad thing....I will see or I will go nuts wanting to crank out more miles? :)

We are also planning to do our last Resupply at MTR.

MTR info:

Our off-season phone number is in the foothills at (209) 966-3195

Email them:

You can not call them directly.

This morning, I just mailed my resupply buckets to Reds Meadow and MTR.

Regarding snow....humm, all three of us have been guessing and Jeremy has said that Sequoia National Park might have the best/current information about snow levels at the higher passes.

Think that Jeremy said that snow levels now maybe at 10,500 ft and hopefully retreating with the sunny weather we are having.

If you find out differently, please let us know.

We are not planning on bringing anything else other than hiking poles.

My concern is going to be stream crossing full of snow melt water.

Hope this helps and good luck to you.

Maybe we will see you out there?


Erik Dietz

Locale: Los Angeles
VVR on 07/25/2011 18:05:12 MDT Print View

Michael-I've been debating whether or not to bring microspikes myself, still don't know yet haha. I'll prob check the updated weather reports and call the ranger stations right before I leave and make my final decision then.

Tony-I just called VVR and they do allow you to charge your batteries etc.

I'll be starting my JMT hike on the fourth but heading north getting to VVR around the 13th. I'll be wearing an orange LA Marathon shirt, maybe I'll see you guys out there!

Have fun!

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: VVR on 07/25/2011 18:18:21 MDT Print View


Thanks for letting me know about VVR and recharging batteries.

Considering that I have decided to carry my batter charger with me from the start of the trip, would suck if I can not recharge.

In fact, I am counting on it....I have 4 batteries, so at the rate that I shoot, if I can not recharge, I am screwed. :)

Think we will be a VVR on the 10th or 11th, possibly sooner if we can get a permit before the 3rd (we only have a permit for two of the three of us).

If we pass on the trail, I will be wearing the green BPL hoodie with a really beat up and faded Sunday Afternoon Hat.

We are going Southbound to Mt. Whitney.

Safe trip to you too...heck, you can tell us about the possible snow conditions we might face on the Southern end of the trail. :)


Michael Levine
(Trout) - F

Locale: Long Beach
First Thru Questions on 07/26/2011 08:53:59 MDT Print View

Thanks for the help guys.

Tony shouldn't you be able to just buy batteries at VVR? Probably expensive, but probably available.

I'll be headed south on the 31rst (with any permit luck) wearing a sun runner, a blue railriders / green Houdini. See you guys out there! Though with my pacing I'm hoping I won't see Tony... this trip =)

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: First Thru Questions on 07/26/2011 10:24:33 MDT Print View


Batteries for the camera I am using is proprietary, so no chance of buying batteries.

Part of the price I pay for having a small camera.

Sounds like you will be flying down the trail ahead of us...don't kick up too much dust on the trail to choke us as we follow behind you....hehhee.

Good luck and be safe.