Backpacking Mount Rainier’s Northside Figure 8

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If you have been following this blog for a while, you know it’s no big secret that we are huge fans of Mount Rainier National Park. This gem of the Pacific Northwest captured our hearts back in 2014 when we backpacked the 93-mile Wonderland Trail around the entire mountain. We loved our experience in Mount Rainier so much we even wrote a book about it! So, when we drove out to California to hike the John Muir Trail last summer, we couldn’t leave the West coast without making our way up to Washington state to get a little fix of “The Mountain.” (more…)

JMT, Day 24: The Finish Line!

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Half Dome Trail Junction to Half Dome to Happy Isles

We wake up at 4:30 am, hoping to hit the trail before sunrise. It’s dark at first, but, by the time we make it out of the tent and finish a quick breakfast, we hardly need our headlamps to see anymore. Just before taking off, a small coyote wanders right through our camp. We watch it in silence as it trots behind our tent, and it’s amazing how little sound it makes. If we were still inside our tents, we would have never even know it was there. (more…)

JMT, Day 22: A Surprise Reunion

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Lyell Fork Bridge to Upper Cathedral Lake, approx. 16 miles

We have a long day in store, so we wake at 5:00 am and try to break camp as quickly as possible. Before taking off we walk down to the waterfalls, and Matt gets some cool shots of the rushing water slowed down and smoothed out. Backpacking with a tripod borderlines on crazy, but it’s moments like these that make us glad we have one with us. (more…)

JMT, Day 21: Yosemite or Bust!

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Garnet Lake to Donohue Pass to Lyell Fork Bridge, 12 miles

We wake up at 5:15 to photograph the alpenglow on Banner Peak and its reflection on Garnet Lake. As always, it’s a struggle to get out of our cozy sleeping bags, but we don’t have a lot of time to spare. Our shooting spot is only a few hundred feet away, so it would be pretty pathetic not to get there. We head out to a little rocky spit of land sticking out into the lake that gives us a beautiful view of the peak, and we are in place on time for a gorgeous sunrise. Hallelujah! (more…)

JMT, Day 20: Our Final Leg Begins!

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Day 20: Red’s Meadow to Garnet Lake, 14.2 miles

My new air mattress is awesome, and I sleep solidly through the night. When the alarm goes off at 5:30, it’s tempting to hit the snooze button, but we have lots of other campers around us who will surely get annoyed if I do, so it’s up and at ‘em! Our packs are a bit of a mess. Everything was torn apart yesterday with the resupply, laundry and shopping run, and we scramble to put everything back together as quickly as possible. Our goal is to be at the Mulehouse Cafe right when it opens at 7 for a hearty breakfast before getting back on the trail. (more…)

JMT, Day 19: Happy Zero Day!

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Mammoth Lakes, CA: 0 miles

We are taking our first zero day, a day off of the trail where we do no hiking. After 19 days and 200 miles, our poor feet and backs deserve a rest, and we have some business to take care of in the nearby town of Mammoth. My air mattress hasn’t been holding air for the past four nights, and I wake up in the middle of the night and find myself lying on the hard ground—no fun! So we’ll head into town to find a gear shop where we can purchase a new one and then mail the old one home to return to REI when we get back to Chicago. (more…)

JMT, Day 18: Resupply at Reds Meadow

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Day 18: Duck Lake Outlet to Red’s Meadow, 11.2 miles

Today we are headed to Red’s Meadow, and we are both so excited to reach this landmark on the JMT! We pop out of the tent like kids on Christmas morning, ready to get going. Red’s Meadow is a rustic resort with a general store, diner, laundromat, showers and campground. We mailed our last resupply bucket there from Chicago, and it will mark 60 miles until the end of the JMT. It’s an exciting milestone, and, lord knows, we could definitely use a real shower and a few of “civilization’s” amenities. (more…)

JMT, Day 17: A Silver Beauty

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Day 17: Silver Pass Creek to Silver Pass to Duck Lake Outlet, 13.1 miles

We are camped about two miles and 1000’ below Silver Pass. We wake up early and hope to tackle the pass feeling refreshed and well rested. It’s another cold morning, so we don’t get out of camp as early as we hoped to, but we are on the trail by 7 am, and up we go! (more…)

JMT, Day 16: A Bear of a Trail

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Bear Creek Meadow to Silver Pass Creek, 14 miles

Breakfast is the least satisfying meal for us when we are backpacking. For this trip we are basically rotating between oatmeal (yuck!), rehydrated bean burritos (OK once in a while), and ProBar Meal Bars (tasty, but not hot). Today we decide to switch it up and go for instant mashed potatoes. It’s really cold this mornimng, and they are really hot and taste good to us. I like the change, but we both know we’ll be hungry again soon.
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