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Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply

BPL subscriber, Al Shaver, didn’t break the JMT speed record for an unsupported hike without resupply, but his account may inspire you to try.

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by Al Shaver | 2006-11-01 03:00:00-07


John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply - Results - 1
The author crossing the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River.

Before my attempt, Reinhold Metzger held the unsupported, unresupplied speed record for the 208 mile John Muir Trail at 5 days 7 hours. I hoped to best his time this September. After three valiant attempts, his record still stands.

I knew I wasn’t necessarily the person best suited to break Reinhold’s record, but I was drawn to the challenge and I thought it was possible. I’m not a gifted runner - I’m a passionate climber who began running approaches to free up more time for climbing. In fact, my approach to this challenge was more as a fastpacker than as a runner — a single push with no outside support, rather than a runner’s approach of resupplying at road crossings.

I explained my strategy and gear choices in my previous article. Here, I describe my three attempts at breaking the record. I hope that my account will inspire another Backpacking Light subscriber in a new attempt at the record, and serve as a “lessons learned” to increase his or her chances of success.

“I built a castle in the swamp and it sunk. I built a second castle and it sunk too. I built a third castle and it burned down and then sunk. But the fourth castle, Ahhhh! That one stood.”

—Monty Python and the Holy Grail

As it turns out, the third time is not always a charm. I could take the advice of Mssrs. Cleese et al and try one more time, but I fear I took on a 40 miles a day challenge with 30 miles a day feet.

My adventures have always been limited by my propensity for developing blisters, but I had hoped that my 8 months of testing with Injinji toed socks, Balega oversocks and dipping my feet in Bodyglide would pay off. I have extended my range considerably, but obviously not to the level of John Muir Trail unresupplied/unsupported record holder Reinhold Metzger who says that after Marine boot camp he could stick pins into the soles of his feet and not feel it.

Acclimating and Reconnaissance

With dreams of victory over the trail and Reinhold's 5 day, 7 hour, 45 minute time from Whitney's 14,497 foot summit to Yosemite Valley, 208.3 miles distant, and hoping for mild fall weather, I left 8365 foot Whitney Portal on September 7th to acclimate, train, memorize the 77 junctions (21 of them being escape routes) and water sources still running. The 2 days I had spent at 8000 feet before this reconnaissance hike helped to slightly ease the quest for oxygen during the first 10.4 mile, 6100 foot climb to Whitney's lofty summit. In 8 hours I achieved the route's high point with my 34 pound dry load (carrying 10 days of food) and descended another 7.5 miles to Crabtree Meadow. After that, daily distances quickly extended to 20 to 30 miles as I passed over 13,200 foot Forester Pass and then the unrelenting procession of five, 12,000 foot passes; Glen, Pinchot, Mather, Muir and Selden. Lowly 11,000 foot Silver Pass was barely a blip on the radar after surviving that Alpine wave train. I sprained my ankle descending from the picturesque Rae Lakes necessitating a layover at the suspension bridge crossing the cool, healing waters of Wood's Creek.

The 160 miles to Red's Meadow took me a respectable 7 hiking days. Fortunately it took no longer, as I woke up to a 23 degree morning on my last day with 90 mph winds on the ridge tops. I discovered that the JMT virtually disappears at Red's Meadow. I had no problem negotiating this section traveling southbound 2 years earlier during my 12 day unresupplied JMT hike. Northbound towards Yosemite Valley (as I would be racing in a week) the navigation was entirely different. After 2 hours of scouting and retracing the route backwards I discovered the subtle, unsigned continuation of the trail northbound that I had missed the first time in full daylight.

John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply - Results - 2
The author met Flyin' Brian Robinson (left, the first person to complete the AT, PCT, and CDT Triple Crown in a calendar year) during his 160 mile reconnaissance run of the southern-most portion of the JMT.

I had also gotten off trail in daylight on the south slope of the starkly barren and beautiful Muir Pass due to a recent rock fall. And at another point (where I ran into Brian and Sophie "Mrs. Flyin' Brian" Robinson) I again found myself to be a trail runner with no trail. Before I hopped on the shuttle bus to my car parked at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, I congratulated myself on choosing to do a pre-run of the challenging southern 160 miles or I would have been hopelessly lost for hours at night during my record attempt. During my initial drive to the east side of the Sierra I also pre-ran the 2 mile northern route through Tuolumne Meadows strongly suggested by the supported category competitors (more on that route choice later).

First Attempt

Following 5 days rest, laundry and ibuprofen therapy at 8000 foot Mammoth Lakes and Whitney Portal, where I healed my ankle and filled my sleep hump, I left the Whitney Portal trailhead with my 18.5 pound - plus 2 pounds of water - load in a reinforced Gossamer Gear G6 Whisper Uberlight pack at 11:30 a.m. on my first attempt at the record. I followed Kevin Sawchuk's strategy of not taking the time to filter or treat water (giardiasis takes more than 5 days to manifest symptoms) and pulled my disposable picnic cup from my handy front pack and dipped into the cool, clear, and likely pathogen infested waters of the heavily trafficked Lone Pine Creek Drainage. After mixing up 2 quarts of Accelerade sports drink at Trail Camp pond I bounded up the infamous 97 switchbacks of doom to 13,600 foot Trail Crest leaving the outlet free Owen's Valley watershed and entering the Pacific Drainage where the JMT resides for almost its entire length. I stashed my 12.5 pound food bag at Trail Junction a tenth of a mile later and began the 3.8 mile round trip to Whitney's summit and back.

Editor’s note: Kevin Sawchuk holds the JMT supported speed record of 3 days 21 hours 5 minutes. Read about his record breaking run in Backpacking Light print magazine, issue 2.

My elation at pulling off a 4 hour 28 minute summit (49 minutes behind Kevin's time) and discovering a good-luck note from Reinhold taped to the summit shelter was short lived as I encountered the debris field of zipper lock bags and turkey jerky fragments below my foolishly exposed food cache. The trio of cackling ravens circling above confirmed the consequences of my folly. My heart sank as I climbed above the trail to my cache spot and surveyed the carnage. Fortunately my avian foes had sampled and quickly lost interest in my Bodyglide, sunscreen and Accelerade powder. My jerky was about one-third gone but the most curious detail of the crime scene was that there was absolutely no trace of the 22 Clif Bars; not a torn wrapper or a crumb. I collected the remains into my pack and scrambled up the loose, vertical western escarpment of Mt. Muir to the culprit's aerie 200 feet above in hopes of finding their cache and retrieving my precious bars and their critical calories. Upon finding no signs of raven booty I downclimbed to the trail and decided that some human had run across my violated food supply and decided to join in on the sacking.

Second Attempt

This, of course, necessitated me bidding farewell to the inviting wild lands to the northwest, turning east and heading back down to Whitney Portal. After a hitch to the town of Lone Pine 12 miles and 4500 feet below for resupply and a 2-day rest at the Portal I started up again at 9:30 a.m. This time I made it to mile 7 and my chronic heel blister (which I hadn't had a visit from for the past 5 months; thank-you very much) decided to make an unscheduled guest appearance. I vainly taped up and pushed another 1.5 miles to Trail Crest, but at that point it was clear that I would have to abort again.

So I burned up another 4 days of precious mild, sunny Sierran fall weather hoping for a blister miracle. While waiting for epidermal alchemy to occur I once again hitched to Lone Pine to make calls, re-provision and pay rent. My sister informed me that Reinhold had been leaving me worried emails wondering if I was lost in the wilderness. I called Reinhold and we spoke on the phone for over an hour. Most of the time was spent by Reinhold alternately regaling me with his amazing wilderness tales and chastising me for venturing into the Sierra in fall without a tent or sleeping bag.

When he left the summit note for me he was about to take a shot at lowering his time to beat even further. "It's time to pass the torch on to the next generation, Al. But I will make you work for it!" Unfortunately, running back to Yosemite at night near Wood's Creek he severely sprained his ankle and had to pull out.

John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply - Results - 3
Fall colors on Mts Thor and Whitney.

His own escape over Sawmill Pass to the east is classic Reinhold. After summiting the Sierra Crest and dropping almost 8000 feet to the deserted trailhead he hobbled along the frontage road paralleling Highway 395. He finally tired of this exercise, whipped out his trusty potty trowel and dug a trench in the lava rocks under the barbed wire to wiggle through and gain access to the busy highway. "Felt like I was back in the Marines", he said.

Third Attempt

“I built a third castle and it burned down and then sunk.”

With three pairs of socks (one with an additional sock pad sewn over the heel) and taped heels I started my third run at 10 a.m. Because the clock had started on my giardiasis 8 days earlier I decided to carry 6 pounds of Accelerade treated water from the start to get me over the top and down to the tarn above Guitar Lake on the less traveled western slope at mile 15. Every time I had drunk the tainted waters from Whitney’s east slope on my previous attempts my stomach had gurgled for several hours and then gone mysteriously silent. This was making me nervous.

I comfortably flashed a 4 hour 19 minute ascent (40 minutes off Kevin's time while toting 24.5 pounds) and finally headed down and west to the exciting, frightening land of my first full night running through the wilderness.

Gliding smoothly through the forest duff and decomposed granite, past lodgepole pine clad lake shores and subalpine meadows, the last afternoon rays of warming sunshine gave notice of the 11 cold, sunless hours soon to come.

At twilight I donned my ultralight GoLite C-Thru thermal top and pants and pressed on into the 45 degree windless early evening. I resisted switching on my Tikka Plus headlamp as the one-third lunar crescent timidly illuminated the narrow hiker's highway which gradually climbed out of Crabtree Meadow past the Tyndall Plateau toward its inevitable collision with the Forester Pass headwall.

John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply - Results - 4
Smiling Rock in Tuolumne Meadows.

As full darkness came on I began to descend abruptly to the west. Was I supposed to drop this sharply or had I missed a trail junction in the moonlight? I frantically lit up the tranquil darkness with my light to check the map. Had I inadvertently turned off the JMT while foolishly enjoying my moonlit run? I promise I will never-ever run at night without my light on. Please don't make me turn around and climb back up this grade. How will I know when to turn around? What's that dark object? Is that a food box? Pleease let it be the Tyndall Ranger's Frog Pond bear box. "Welcome to the frog ponds. Please carry out all your trash. -Tyndall Ranger" Yes, oh yes. I remember this landmark from my pre-run. I'm saved! Thank God. Don't be an idiot, Al. That was your last mistake, Al. Perfection from here on out. No more mini-dramas. Got it?

I feel I should be approaching the lakes below Forester but I may be missing them in the darkness. No matter. The headlamp on low setting is bright enough to make out the trail clearly and I am on the right trail. I make out the cool blue glow of an LED headlamp in a glen above the trail. I'm not aware of any campsites in this area. As the trail takes me closer I wonder what backpacker would be up and about at such a late hour as 9:45 p.m. Then I hear the sweet siren's call of a distinctly female voice coming from the mysterious encampment. I'm finding it difficult to make out her words over the sound of water flowing over stone to my right. Could the seductive voice to my left be inviting me up to her camp in the pines for a warming cup of cocoa? I know the hot chocolate would disqualify me from being unsupported. Where is my crew to plug my ears with pine sap and tie me to the mast of a lodgepole pine; for alone I cannot resist her lilting enchantment. Reinhold! Help me!

As quickly as she appeared, the light and voice are gone and a dark wall confronts the impotent beam of my lamp. A mere 33 minutes later I stand atop 13,200 foot Forester Pass. It is 11 p.m., 13 hours and 31 miles in. The air is as still as a thick August night in Mississippi and the thermometer hovers at a balmy 40 degrees. It is 49 hours until October here at the top of the Sierra Nevada.

Abandoning the Quest

Unfortunately this is where my story changes tone. I had worked myself up to 30 miles of hiking/running in 13 hours in preparation for my quest. With 11 hours rest I can do it all over again. Without the rest however, my feet rapidly break down with blisters, pressure injuries and lots of pain. At this point I was on a 60 mile first day pace. With the pain in my feet rapidly increasing as I descended from Forester, my pace began to slow. Adding insult to injury, this was the exact time that the zoological petting zoo incubating down in the mail room for the past week decided to make its "explosive" entrance. Accompanying this unwelcome intestinal outburst was a sudden dearth of energy.

I should have taken this as a sign from above that this challenge wasn't for me and hung a left and made the hike west to the Road's End trailhead at King's Canyon to escape the route. Remaining true to form, however (being a few cans short of a case) I turned northeast and headed up Glen Pass. Between the steep switchback-free trail to the high saddle and the devastating lassitude, I slowed to a complete stop on many occasions, breathing deeply in search of fuel hiding in some cellular crevice that my 20 million new best friends had missed.

The eastern sky began to glow with the soft purple of the promise of a new and hopefully better day as I arrived at the western shore of the Rae Lakes. I sat on the trail stairs for a brief rest and quickly fell into uneasy seated slumber, my wrists locked in my trekking pole straps. Moments later I awoke sweating and nauseous. I took two long draws of toxic Accelerade through my Camelbak bite valve, gummed a carrot cake Clif bar and the symptoms quickly vanished. This scenario would repeat itself for the next 16 hours as I descended for 25 miles along another route to Road's End along Wood's Creek.

Even with my maladies I reached the 50 mile mark at the end of day one (where I snuck in a one hour nap) and 75 miles at the Road’s End trailhead at 10 p.m., 36 hours in. However I was in considerable pain from feet and gut and absolutely lacking any energy. Stranded in a deserted, cold and dark parking lot that I didn't want to spend a shivering, sleepless, sleeping bag-less night in I hitched a miracle ride from Yosi, an Israeli expatriate who'd just had a bear encounter and wanted to sleep in a city - thank God.

A night of foot soaking under the watchful eye of Jerry Springer in Fresno's finest Hotel No-Tell followed by a day of fruitless hitch hiking led me to the sad desperation of a 2:15 a.m. rendezvous with a Greyhound Scenic Cruiser to a Merced connection with YARTS, Yosemite Area Rapid Transit System.

My patiently waiting Subaru whisked me out of Yosemite Valley and over 10,000 foot Tioga Pass through a substantial rain storm on Sunday - which would have been my fourth day on the trail. With only thin leggings and wind pants on my lower extremities and a body beyond exhaustion and rapidly collapsing - that would have been a rough day and night.

Final Thoughts

Perhaps it was foolishly ambitious for me to attempt such mileage with chronically tender feet. The problem is that my endurance, stamina, drive to succeed, vision, self-confidence, sense of adventure and desire to explore the unknown have never been a good match for the durability of my feet.

So in retrospect it was an expensive, committing, time consuming, foolish adventure. It was Lionel Terrey who referred to mountaineers as "Conquistadors of the Useless." Some say, "It's like having fun - only different." The late, great Bardini (Alan Bard) summed it up by asking, "Got a bad memory? Have I got a sport for you!"

Looking back on the entire experience, I have to say that one of my most profound and touching memories will be of the outpouring of advice, concern, criticism and support not only from family and friends, but from the Backpacking Light community. I have cherished the opportunity to get to know many of you even better as a result of this adventure through the miracle of cyberspace. Many thanks for your assistance, concern and friendship.

About the Author

John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply - Results - 5
The author all packed and ready for his record attempt.

Born June 13, 1957 in Buffalo, New York and raised in Sacramento and Marin County, California, Al Shaver first backpacked throughout California's Sierra Nevada (John Muir's "Range of Light") as a Boy Scout and as a scout camp merit badge counselor. He first climbed Mt. Whitney at age 13 with a scout troop. An Eagle Scout with Troop 81 in 1975, he was Marin County wrestling champion that same year. He graduated from the University of California at Davis with a B.S. of Applied Behavioral Sciences in 1979.

He sold photocopiers and computer control panels in the Silicon Valley, and eventually followed the example of the protagonist in Tom Robbins' novel "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues." He called in 'well.' "I'm fine now. I don't need this job anymore. Thank-you." in 1983. Al traveled to Peru and Ecuador to learn to climb on 21,000 foot peaks in 1986. Fortunately, he survived the experience. From 1986 to 1991, he spent summers touring, climbing and skiing in Europe, the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska, and wintered at Rocky Mountain ski resorts. While waiting tables at a brewpub in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 1995 to 2000, he began to dabble in trail running to the 12,600 foot summit of Santa Fe Baldy. In 2001 he moved to Monterey, California to be a full time Uncle to his then 10 and 13 year old nephews. He continues to hike with Boy Scouts as Assistant Scoutmaster for troop 93. On his own he likes to solo his favorite technical rock climbing routes on Yosemite National Park's Half Dome and Mt. Whitney's East Face.

He began carrying a small postage scale and a 10 pound baby scale into backcountry stores almost 20 years ago - well before it became fashionable. Arriving without his standard paraphernalia, store employees have actually asked, albeit rarely, "Dude, where's your scale?"


"Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply," by Al Shaver. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2006-11-01 03:00:00-07.


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Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply
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Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply on 10/31/2006 21:34:47 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: JMT Shaver on 10/31/2006 22:34:33 MST Print View

Good on you Al! It sounds like you got that out of your system, now you can rest for awhile.

I sympathize with you on the nocturnal navigation and the pain of missing a turn. Sometimes those reflective NFS trail markers are a man's best friend, at least when your internal dialogue is running 100 miles per hour.

Anyway, you've got a short memory too right? You'll be back in no time, ready to get go a few more rounds :)

Edited by jhaura on 10/31/2006 22:35:51 MST.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
An honorable accomplishment on 11/01/2006 03:07:22 MST Print View

Your story was very inspiring; thank you for your attempt and telling us about it.

Edited by Brett1234 on 07/19/2007 00:34:22 MDT.

Ron Khosla
( - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Great Inspiration on 11/01/2006 09:04:16 MST Print View

Your story of is so inspiring to me! So few among us are perfectly qualified enough to undertake all the adventures we want to take. I am definitely NOT one of those "perfectly qualified" folks, but with careful planning and intelligent exit strategies in place you make me feel like I should try harder for the challenges I seem to convince myself are too stupid to try for.

Thank you for sharing your story, and I will be only too happy to hear that you decided to try again... after you forget the pain and suffering!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
JMT Attempt Inspires Awe on 11/01/2006 10:04:42 MST Print View


After this all sinks in, you'll be content to know that you tried and bailed (...and tried and bailed...and tried and bailed...) rather than written yourself off as a fool and never tried at all.

I'm really pleased and impressed you tackled this unsupported. I think the record is ripe for the taking, but Reinhold's current mark still remains an impressive goal.

Heal well,

Roger B
(rogerb) - MLife

Locale: Here and there
Well done on 11/01/2006 17:07:35 MST Print View

Al All I can say is "well done mate"

The willingness to push ourselves to the limit (and beyond) is something that sets us apart from others.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply on 11/01/2006 18:16:00 MST Print View

Al -

Your narrative has been awaited with much anticipation. Your efforts alone were amazing and success all a matter of relativity. How can one know their limits without testing them?

The value of your efforts are useful to all of us in planning our more modest pursuits as well as those who follow you and the likes of Metzger and Sawchuk in pushing the limits.

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
awesome writeup on 11/02/2006 21:29:19 MST Print View


Thanks for the awesome writeup. It's reminiscent of a Shakespearean tragedy in three parts, with the hero nobly battling ravens and blisters, while being preordained to succumb to the bugs!


Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: awesome writeup on 11/04/2006 17:54:02 MST Print View

Hey Al,
First of all, thank you BPL for publishing Al’s story and getting us inspired in the 1st place. Al, your story was great! I also hope you are satisfied with what you have done, and hope you make another attempt at it. With blisters that are better prepared and treated water this attempt would have been in a whole other realm.
I am still going for the attempt next year. I decided to see what my body can take over a 24 hour period and signed up for the San Francisco 1-day run last weekend. I have covered 45 miles in a day a few times during adventure races but that was in different segments. The longest I have ever run straight is a 50K.
While thinking I would get to mile 40 and die slowly over the rest of the night, it was just the opposite. I did not go out too fast and maintained a good pace until mile 90. At 90, things started to go down hill from my legs and feet getting stiff. I still managed to hang on the 4th over-all and cover 103.7 miles over the 24 hours.
This race summed it up for me to go for the JMT attempt next year.

During the race I met up and ran with Catra Corbett for a few hours. She has the record for the fastest female record over the JMT. Al, she said hi and was glad she was finally able to meet you.
She is an amazing woman. She can run circles around all of us. If you haven’t checked out her blog or her birthday challenge, check it out, (11-hundreds in one year), and she is going for the women’s PCT Record next year.

Al, I have given a lot of consideration in route choice.
If I can get a Lottery Ticket for a Saturday, I will just cruz up with my brother and stay the night and start the attempt the next morning. If not Saturday, I will start the time at the portal, but not try to rush too much to the top, then note the time I leave the top, (for the attempt in breaking Reinholds record).
If I hit Reds meadow during the day, I will take the north of the road route. Navigating parking lots at night just doesn't seem as fun.
Al, hopefully we can talk soon, so I can get you all buttered up to go for it again next year. Maybe at the same time, with Reinhold as well???

Edited by awsorensen on 11/11/2006 21:26:19 MST.

Carol Crooker
(cmcrooker) - MLife

Locale: Desert Southwest, USA
Aaron - share your story on 11/05/2006 10:42:24 MST Print View

We'd love to do YOUR story next year!

John Phillips
(jphillips) - MLife
Clif Bars Mystery on 11/08/2006 18:40:08 MST Print View

Al: Good on Ya for your attempt. I'll wager a dozen Clif Bars (with Green Tea Caffeine!) that it was neither humans or ravens that stole your 22 Clif Bars. The marmots are notorious at that trail junction and appear very large and healthy. Clif Bars should consider their picture for an advertisement. keep getting out there! John Phillips--Ahwahnee, CA

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Hey Al on 11/14/2006 22:22:00 MST Print View

Hey Al, please send me a PM.

Edited by awsorensen on 11/19/2006 11:59:37 MST.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
PM? on 11/25/2006 00:52:01 MST Print View

Again, thanks to all for your supportive comments.

Aaron good for you for getting some real world experience in taking your body to extremes. I need to do more of that. I don't know what a "PM" is that you referred to. If it's a post-mortum, I think I already provided that.

By early October the Whitney area climbs were filling in with snow so I changed venue from the 13,100' East Face rope-up to the 4000' starting elevation climbs in Yosemite Valley.

I was in the process of climbing 2 laps on Half Dome's SW Face (26 miles/10'000' vertical) and ran into Catra training for a 100 mile race. She just became the first woman to do 4,100 milers in as many weeks.

A month later I saw her in climber's camp and she suggested that we go for Reinhold's record together next fall after she sets a new unsupported PCT record. I'm flattered that she would even consider me to be in her league.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
PM II ? on 11/25/2006 14:04:46 MST Print View

Aha. I discovered what a PM is. I found a forum post that said I can contact you from your profile page. I looked all over the website for clues to accessing you and then did a BPL search under Aaron Sorensen but still came up empty. PM is a lovely idea, but I'm afraid accessing this feature is not very user friendly.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: PM? on 11/25/2006 20:58:46 MST Print View

Hey Al,
I'm with you for the record, however we mortal humans will not be able to keep up with Catra. She does the JMT as fast as we do while still sleeping 7 hours a day. During her hiking she runs (A LOT) more and averages over 3 mph most of the time.

After the San Francisco 1 day, I could not run for a few weeks due to my left arch killing me. Catra ran 3 more 100's over the next 3 weeks.
I don't think she would go for the option of doing 20+ hour days, but I'm sure she wouldn't have a problem catching us each day.

Speaking of which, Catra is going for the unsupported female record of the PCT and I can not find any where in the internet that tells who has it now.

Anybody else know?
A link to the story would be nice to.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: PM II ? on 11/27/2006 02:19:47 MST Print View

Hi Al

Look at Aaron's latest posting. Under his name you will see it repeated, maybe not exactly, but in round brackets.
Put your cursor on that second line/name and it will underline. Click. This brings up a bio page for Aaron. Midway down the page there is a blue 'email this user'. Click. Email...

Edited by rcaffin on 11/27/2006 02:20:16 MST.

Jonathan Chiappa
(chiappaj) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply on 11/29/2006 15:04:02 MST Print View

Is there a person/group/organization that keeps track of these official/unofficial records?

- Jon

Martin Ritsi
(fmritsi) - F

Locale: Sierra High Trail
Re: Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply on 12/04/2006 19:56:44 MST Print View

I ditto Jon's question. Al, you have me going at thinking about making an attempt with my son. But what I can't figure out is where does anyone find what "The" current record is????

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Results: John Muir Trail (JMT) Record Attempt - Unsupported, Without Resupply on 12/07/2006 00:16:38 MST Print View

Hey Martin,
Here is everything you need to know about the current and past JMT records.
Reinhold Metzger is the only owner of the unsupported record and has dropped his own record 2 times to it's current standing.
The current records:


Kevin Sawchucks outright record:

Reinhold Metzger's current unsupported record:

The past records:

Blake Wood's record 1998:

Peter Bakwin and Buzz Burrell's attempt in 2000:

Peter Bakwin's record in 2003:

Brian Robinson's attempt right after in 2003, (excellent story):

Catra Corbett has the women's supported record at 5 days 10 hours.

John Stamstead attempted the unsupported record this year and would of had it if he had not had to catch a flight before he was able to finish.
There is a very nice write up about this in July's issue of Trail Runner Magazine. His time would have been around 4 days 20 hours.

Then came Al's attempt about 2
months later.

I have read some where that Trail Runner Magazine was supposed to be the official magistrate for these unofficial records, but have not found any thing on it. Maybe they have a list some where???

Edited by awsorensen on 12/07/2006 00:24:19 MST.

Al Shaver
(Al_T.Tude) - F - M

Locale: High Sierra and CA Central Coast
Speed Records on 12/07/2006 16:14:27 MST Print View

Roger: Thanks for the PM instructions.

Martin: Good luck on your adventure with your son.

The un-supported, un-resupplied JMT Speed Record was set in 2005 by then 64 year old Reinhold Metzger of Pt. Loma, CA. He travelled 208 miles and 34,000' vertical ascent from the summit of Mt. Whitney to Happy Isles Trailhead in Yosemite Valley (taking the southern route through Tuolumne Meadows to avoid crossing Hwy 120)in 5 days, 7 hours, 45 minutes.

In 2004 Alamo, CA resident Kevin Sawchuk ran 219 miles and 40,000' vertical ascent from Whitney Portal to Whitney's summit to Happy Isles taking the northern route through Tuolumne Meadows in 3 days, 21 hours, 5 minutes setting the current JMT Speed Record. (see BPL print mag Issue 2)

Aaron: Thanks for researching and posting all those speed record links. I could have used those last year.

Regarding terminology: I have learned to differentiate between un-supported and un-resupplied. Here's why: Catra Corbett will be attempting to set a new un-supported PCT speed record next year. Huh? 3,000 miles without support? That would require a 1000 lb pack! Not so, Grasshopper. By this, she means that she will not have food and equipment caches or people waiting for her along the trail. Instead, she will have to hike/hitch to towns to buy supplies or p/u parcels mailed to her and then make her way back to the point where she left the trail.

To some people (and there are a surprisingly large number of them) this is a worthwhile distinction. Referring to Reinhold's achievement as un-supported might lead these people into thinking that he hiked off the trail to re-supply. That is why I refer to his style of travel as un-supported, un-resupplied.

edgar desert rat
(krudmeister) - F
RE Reinholds record still the one to beat? and route on 02/06/2007 15:52:30 MST Print View

As of 2/6/06 is Reinholds record still the one to beat? Also as far as the route goes is one allowed to start in Yosemite Valley and end at Whitney to be considered viable for the record?

thanks adam

Martin Ritsi
(fmritsi) - F

Locale: Sierra High Trail
Re: RE Reinholds record still the one to beat? and route on 02/13/2007 19:41:06 MST Print View

Hey Adam,

That is still the one to beat, though probably not for much longer.

Here is a thread of one attempt that should be happening this summer:

John Muir Trail - again

Look that one up and you can write to Aaron Sorensen (awsorensen). His plan is pretty awesome and he is happy to talk about it and share his gear list.

Good luck if you are thinking of giving it a shot! I'm waiting to see what happens this summer and hope you guys to make it too tough for 2008.


Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: RE Reinholds record still the one to beat? and route on 02/13/2007 20:34:09 MST Print View

Hey Adam,
I'm here. Getting in better shape every day. Yesterday I did a 26 mile hike out on Diablo with a cumulative of 7000' elevation gain.
I can't wait to get up in elevation. On a good note, almost all of the training I'm doing is more difficult than the JMT. It is the elevation, (above about 10500') that is going to be the hardest barrier.

And Marin, Reinhold is still the man. I will give my self a 40% chance of getting the record. I'm not putting anything past what an accomplishment Reinhold did.
To answer you question, sure, you can start at Yosemite.

I think the only advantage is you get a chance to get used to the elevation and obviously it is easier to get a permit.

The big disadvantage is that your hardest day will be your last day. After 4 1/2 days and felling like crap and like you died a day or 2 ago, going up Whitney would not be fun.
Going S - N gives you over 30 miles almost all down hill.

Any thing else you would like to know, let me know.
You can get a lot of info on my past posts, (link below).
Are you looking at possibly making the attempt???????

Edited by awsorensen on 02/13/2007 23:01:10 MST.