JMT, Day 0: Lots and Lots of Logistics

It is July 3, and tomorrow we set off on our biggest backpacking trip ever, the John Muir Trail! We are both excited and nervous to get going. But, before we can step foot on the trail, we have so many last minute details we need to take care of. I know we shouldn’t complain—nobody ever said it would be easy to walk in the woods for 270 miles for over 3 weeks. If that’s the price of slipping away from real life for a while, it’s definitely worth the hassle. (more…)

Backpacking Colorado’s Chicago Basin, Day 3: Damp but Not Done Yet!

Backpacking Colorado's Chicago Basin_Day 3

It rains all night long, and it is still sprinkling at 6 am when we finally begin to stir. We pack up all that we can inside the tent and then head back to our dryish spot under the trees for breakfast. The tent is soaked! Once we are all packed up, we head down to the river to take a few shots of our lovely watering hole before hitting the trail to catch the train back to Durango. The train stops at Needleton on the way back to Durango at 3:55, so we take our time heading back down the trail trying to notice things that we might have missed when we were coming in the opposite direction. (more…)

Backpacking Colorado’s Chicago Basin, Day 2: Billy Goat’s Gruff

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Matt and I are eating breakfast admiring the view from our spectacular campsite when we suddenly hear the gallop of hoof steps fast approaching. I turn just in time to see a giant male goat charging at full speed right at me! I stand up just in the nick of time, and it barely swerves around our tent. Another goat is in hot pursuit, and the two gallop a mere five feet past us and out to the next rock ledge. Almost getting stampeded by two mountain goats sure is a memorable way to get your heart going in the morning! (more…)

Backpacking Colorado’s Chicago Basin, Day 1: Beware of Porcupines!

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We have been at this hiking thing for quite a while now. We count ourselves lucky to have done some truly incredible treks over the years, but the summer of 2016 was definitely shaping up to be our biggest and baddest backpacking adventure yet. After years of thinking that the John Muir Trail was too long (211 miles!), too high (14,508 feet to the top of Mt. Whitney!) and too tough (7-day food carries, treacherous river crossings and a constant supply of 5-figure high passes!), we decided to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. Life’s short, right?

We got a permit to start hiking the JMT northbound beginning on the 4th of July. We planned our route, mailed off our resupplies, packed up our bags and finally set off on the long drive out to California at the end of June. So, how did we end up in Colorado? (more…)

Backpacking the Trans-Zion Traverse Day 5: Echo Canyon to East Entrance

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Day 5: Echo Canyon to East Entrance Trailhead, 7 miles

After our long, hard day yesterday, we both sleep soundly through the night and don’t wake up until the alarm goes off. It is 5:00 am. Again. We are tired, but we are determined to get moving early. Today is supposed to be the hottest day on the trail yet, and, after being cooked crisp yesterday, we are eager to get as much distance on the trail as possible before the temperatures begin to rise. (more…)

Backpacking the Trans-Zion Traverse Day 4: West Rim to Echo Canyon

Backpacking the TZT_Day 4

Today is our biggest hiking day of the TZT, so we were hoping for a good night’s sleep, but, with yesterday’s long nap and a really cold night (45°F), it seems that sleep is hard to come by. I am wide awake when the alarm goes off at 5 am. We decide to break camp as quickly as possible while it’s still dark and have breakfast farther down the trail as a break. The sky is just starting to lighten when we set off at 6 am. It is our coldest morning yet so we have on our down jackets, gloves and warm hats.  (more…)

Backpacking the Trans-Zion Traverse Day 3: Wildcat Canyon to West Rim Trail

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Day 3: Wildcat Canyon to West Rim Site #8, 6 miles

It is windy all night along, and, between the roar of the wind through the trees and the sound of the pine needles dropping on our tent throughout the night, I don’t get as good a night of sleep as I had hoped for. Since we have a relatively easy day today, we all sleep in, and nobody is up and moving around camp until nearly 7 am. Team Texas treats us to some tunes as we break camp, and we are sorry we won’t be able to share a camp again with them tonight when we will be back in an individual reserved site. (more…)

Backpacking the Trans-Zion Traverse Day 2: La Verkin to Wildcat Canyon

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Day 2: La Verkin Creek, Site #11 to Wildcat Canyon, 14 miles

The alarm goes off at 5 am to wake us up for a big day on the trail. We still aren’t sure how fast we will be hiking with our full backpacks over the Zion terrain, and we have a 14+ mile day ahead of us, so we want to get an early start. We stored most of our food in a bear vault overnight, but we hung a few excess items in a nylon bag from a low branch of a tree. We discover that a mischievous mouse has chewed his way through the bag and into two plastic bags to get at our crackers. Lesson learned. We enjoy our breakfast on a large boulder overlooking the river. Life is good! (more…)