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just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts
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Stephen P
(spavlock) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/11/2012 14:00:02 MDT Print View

Great write up. Thanks for sharing! The JMT is on my bucket list. Hopefully next year. I like carrying a light pack no matter what pace I go. For a trip like this, I would throw in a fishing rod, some books, and plan several weeks to enjoy the wonderful scenery! It's a shame some people are impolite and down right rude on the trail.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Re: JMT on 09/11/2012 14:01:24 MDT Print View

Another note, for years I always wondered why folks would only hike on one trail and miss all the lakes and side trips. Maybe one day I'll find out the "trail" aka John Muir Highway experience. My car is left at the TH, I gotta get back to it, so a loop trip.

Paul Maguire
Re: JMT on 09/11/2012 19:31:52 MDT Print View

"Thank you for reminding me why I left California (among many other reasons), and haven't been back."

I found most people on the trail that I met were from out of state. Only meet a few other hikers form California. I met a lot of people on the trail too.

Edited by ppatmag on 09/11/2012 19:33:05 MDT.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/12/2012 03:09:04 MDT Print View


Sorry you had such a negative experience this year. I finished the JMT 3 weeks ago and didn't experience any of the behavior you spoke of by other thruhikers - no matter what their pack weight was. We mainly had to hurry due to weather and not "record-seeking" motivations. I also didn't see an excessive asmount of trash or debris on the trail.

The nastiest encounter I had with anybody was with a male day hiker who was trundling up from Tuolomne towards Cathedral lakes. I came across him bent over, huffing and wheezing on the side of the trail. Thinking he was in distress, I asked him if he needed help and he responded by screaming at me and calling me - among other things - a "feminist bi tch."

I proudly resisted the urge to knock him on his ass - after I recovered from my shock of course, which was all the more difficult since some other folks who were within ear shot offered to hold him down so I could clean up the trail with him. Oh well. It became a fun story and it also got me a few sympathy beers at Tuolomne and Reds. Not a bad outcome.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/12/2012 17:50:21 MDT Print View

"Fast is a four letter word." Jim Ledbetter

Work (or time off from work) can also be a four letter word. Me

I often think about the pace I choose. Since I began backpacking again I have been striving for a set up that gives me the safety and comfort I need on the trail with the least weight possible. Since time off work is limited, hiking lighter has let me do miles I may not have wanted to do with traditional pack weights.

When I hiked the JMT with my son, brother and nephew I knew I only had 2 weeks to play with. So, we did it in 2 weeks. If I only had 10 days could I have done it? I really don't know. I did have 2 weeks so we did it in 2 weeks. For some this is fast, for others this is not fast. So, as I pick my trips, which are usually 4-5 days, I pick trips where I can see a lot and do about 15-20 miles a day. I'm not a fast hiker, just a steady hiker and going light has made that possible.

I find it a bummer that the original poster found other lightweight hikers to be such jerks. I do not deny they were. What a bummer to be on the trail and not have time to chat a bit with those you cross paths with. That's probably one of the things I love the most about backpacking: talking to others on the trail and finding out what they have done, seen and heard along the trail.

Francis DeRoos

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/20/2012 18:36:23 MDT Print View

Thanks for the thoughts and your observations. I can say that during my solo JMT last september, the few people I met and spoke with, I wished I had spent more time with. Everyone seemed really engaged with the place and understood how special the sierras and their time enjoying it was. Maybe that was because it was later in the season and more older (I'm 48) were about. A few people I spent a few days camping with and getting to know. THose nights and shared meals are some of my most memorable of the trip.

@ Doug
I agree. let's keep it civil and friendly. It's OK to disagree and debate but give everyone the benefit of the doubt that the language and words they choose are not meant to be antagonistic.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/20/2012 23:50:30 MDT Print View

Glad you enjoyed your trip. Regarding the people you met. People are people. Some days in a department store I run into a bunch of jerks. Other days in the same store everyone is wonderful. That's life.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/21/2012 05:52:38 MDT Print View

I have found that I meet mostly nice folks when on the trail or when bicycle touring (I bicycle tour a lot more than I backpack). I have not found that how heavy or how light they choose to pack or how fast they choose to go has anything much to do with whether they are nice or jerks, if you give them a chance to be nice. That last is important, if you are have an attitude (positive or negative) about them from he get go it will usually be a self fulfilling prophesy.

Jim L
fast .. four letters .. etc on 09/21/2012 06:30:37 MDT Print View

To all. My fast comment wasn't intended to judge anyone or try to get anyone to do it my way. It was an attempt to describe my perspective of trail time. Trail time is, FOR ME, a time to savor my surroundings and spend as much time there as possible. Some people like to go fast. Fine with me. I don't necessarily understand why, but so what. As long as I'm not an a$$ about it my opinions about what is MY right way to hike (or anything else) are just my perspectives and are not proposed as THE right way.

By the way, what's wrong with HYOH? That is an honest question, not a challenge.

Jim - a slow, old fart who enjoys being out there, not in here.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: fast .. four letters .. etc on 09/21/2012 07:10:19 MDT Print View

when you say it is a 4 letter word it has pretty negative connotations to it doncha think?

the "why" people prefer to go fast have been discussed all over. ever consider that your "fast" is just someone elses "normal" or even "slow" you said "why hurry" which is often said but who said anyone is hurrying?

HYOH goes both ways and a lot of times people who tout it are also hypocritical

Edited by JakeDatc on 09/21/2012 07:12:56 MDT.

Jim L
Re: fast .. four letters .. etc on 09/21/2012 09:51:02 MDT Print View


It appears that you and I agree much more than disagree. I just didn't say it very well.

I would say that for most of the folks on this forum, my fast is their normal or slower. I agree that my comment about four letter word was poorly chosen. The whole point is that each of us should enjoy the hike for whatever reason we're out there and allow others the same freedom to enjoy it for whatever reasons they have. We should also feel free to express those reasons. If it bothers you that I haven't read all the gazillion old forum posts to know that "fast rationale" has been discussed before, I am sorry.

HYOH definitely goes both ways. I have seen hypocrits on both ends of the speed/weight/simplicity spectra. Hopefully I won't be misunderstood as one. Or worse, hopefully I won't be one.

Jim - An apparently not very effective communicator who is a slow (as in unhurried - not pace but approach), light (not Heavy, UL or SUL), simple (not luxury laden or austere or ascetic) hiking, old fart. Just to be clear - the stuff in parentheses is not wrong, just choices that lead to someone else's hike, not mine.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: fast .. four letters .. etc on 09/21/2012 10:00:31 MDT Print View

i'll agree to that. mostly how you said it came out bad. now we know what you meant :)

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/21/2012 12:57:18 MDT Print View

I plan on doing the JMT next summer after I quit work and before I go back to school. I will literally have all summer to do it, and judging on what everyone has said, I will definitley take my time. Fish lots of lakes a climb lots of peaks and ridges.
I also plan on doing it only with mid 19th century-ish gear, should be a very unique experience.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
19th century on 09/21/2012 14:40:26 MDT Print View

Did you really mean the 19th century (1801–1900)? Or was that a typo?

If you will really be using mid 1800's type gear what will your gear weigh? Just curious.

Edited by staehpj1 on 09/21/2012 14:42:59 MDT.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
19th on 09/21/2012 15:12:05 MDT Print View

That sounds awesome. How did you/will you get a hold of all the old gear? I wonder if John Muir posted his gear lists anywhere?

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/21/2012 15:15:40 MDT Print View


Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/21/2012 15:42:34 MDT Print View

Yeah, more or less that time period. Wool blankets, canvas pack, canvas tarp, wool sweaters, ect. Pretty heavy stuff, but way lighter than a lot of traditional backpackers. 6lb blanket, 3lb tarp, 2.25 lbs in insulative clothing, 2.5lb pack, ect.

The gear shouldn't be too hard to get ahold of. Canvas packs, wool blankets, and canvas tarps can be bought brand new. Some minor stuff that would be extremely difficult to get I might cheat on. I will also need to give in and carry a bear canister.

I'm not going to be hiking around in wool knickers and hob nail boots like I am reenacting something., probably just cotton shorts, leather moccasins, canvas hat.
Sorry, didn't mean to derail the thread. I made a thread about this a little while back

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Re: Re: Re: just finished the JMT... a few observations and thoughts on 09/21/2012 16:06:28 MDT Print View

Wow! Pretty cool. Doesn't appeal to me personally, but it is an interesting approach. Please report back on your experiences.

Bob Shaver
(rshaver) - F

Locale: West
my version of doing the JMT on 09/25/2012 13:59:41 MDT Print View

We did the JMT in 1971 in the opposite manner as a fast hiker of today. We took 27 days, and had 3 food drops, and 4 layover days. We climbed 17 peaks along the way. The climbers would go climb peaks, and the fishermen would hike on to the destination lake of the day, and start catching fish. The climbers would arrive at camp, clean fish and help eat them. Different then from now:

no permits
no bear canisters
no problems with bears
no stoves
no tents, except plastic tube tents
no goretex
no nylon pants (I did have a nylon shirt)
no water filters, and no problems with giardia
no internal frame packs
no titanium gear
no packs under 60 pounds

I've read of much faster transits than ours, but none that climbed as many peaks.

I went in at South lake this summer (2012) and was surprised at how many old people (my age, 62) were hiking the trails, many of them with the old gear of the 70s and 80s.

Edited by rshaver on 09/25/2012 14:01:16 MDT.

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
Re: my version of doing the JMT on 09/26/2012 14:41:57 MDT Print View

"I went in at South lake this summer (2012) and was surprised at how many old people (my age, 62) were hiking the trails, many of them with the old gear of the 70s and 80s."

I've noticed the same thing down in the JMT area. Most people you see are over 40.

You see a lot more 20-somethings and high schoolers in the tahoe rim area