Next August, I’d like to hike the JMT north to south in 15 days to minimize vacation days used – 14 hiking days with one rest/day. My mom decided that she’d like to hike it too. We would start at Toulumne and average 14 miles a day. I’m trying to lighten her load (I’ll take shared gear), but still anticipating 28 lbs max weight with 8 days food for her.
My mom’s in great shape, better than most 56 year olds. She swims in a Master’s program daily, deep water runs 2x a week, lifts weights 3x a week, and walks 4-5 days a week. She typically walks 25-30 miles a week. Just last week, she walked 20.5 miles at 16.5 minutes per mile pace, and is planning to walk a marathon in October. If we hike the JMT, she has plans to switch up her walking to include lots of walking up and down foothills off trail, and also walking with pack weight.
Unfortunately, my mom’s body hasn’t kept up with her quite as well. A few years ago, she was diagnosed with pre-diabetes. She’s been able to manage it with diet and exercise, and for the most part has it under control. She occasionally has issues with her blood sugar levels dropping, but as long as she drinks enough water, eats frequently and has enough and the right kind of food, and rests as needed, she can control this. And of course we would experiment with hiking and the type of food we plan on bringing beforehand to make sure everything will work for her.
Further complicating things is her knee – 2 years ago she tore her ACL and didn’t have surgery to replace it. And it isn’t a problem, except on steep hills. We’ve been doing some hiking up and down hills with packs (750-1000 feet gain per mile) and she’s been fine, although slower than she’d like (2 miles per hour) and with some soreness. Where she has trouble is with rough trail, really big steps, and climbing up and down rocks, boulders and large exposed roots.
If you’ve hiked the JMT before, are 14 mile days too ambitious for someone like my mom? Would 3 weeks be more doable than 2? Or is it just a bad idea for her to try this hike with the pre-diabetes and lack of an ACL, and should we scratch the whole idea? Are trail conditions such that they would be impossible for her to manage with her knee?
My mom’s a tough lady who can take on a lot. I just don’t want us to do something that is beyond her physical abilities. Thanks for reading and I really appreciate any feedback.