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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JMT, Day 15: The Second Half Begins

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Muir Trail Ranch to Seldon Pass to Bear Creek, 10.5 miles

We don’t wake up until 6, and we decide to stop back by MTR to drop off last night’s trash and fill up on some spring water before hitting the trail. In the first mile of today’s climb, we gain 700 feet, and then it’s up more switchbacks from there for most of the rest of the morning. Now that we are out of Kings Canyon and Sequoia, we are done with the big elevation. We only have 5 passes to cross over the next 110 miles, and the tallest is just over 11,000 feet. (more…)

JMT, Day 14: Resupply at Muir Trail Ranch

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Evolution Lake to Muir Trail Ranch, 16+ miles

Today is Resupply Day! We are headed to Muir Trail Ranch, and we have to get there by 5 pm to get our bucket of food that we mailed from Chicago back in June. Only problem is that MTR is 16 miles from where we are now at Evolution Lake, and that’s a long way for us to go, especially under a deadline. We are hoping we’ll make it, but, if not, we’ll just camp nearby and pick up our cache the next morning. (more…)

JMT, Day 13: Magical Muir Pass

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Big Pete Meadow to Muir Pass to Evolution Lake, 11.6 miles

We set off bright and early for Muir Pass this morning, and our guidebook says it is our last big pass of the John Muir Trail, so we are pretty pumped for it. We have about 2500′ of elevation yet to gain, and it starts right out of the gate. As we climb up, the Middle Fork of the Kings River tumbles down violently beside us. (more…)

JMT, Day 12: A Long Slog (My Birthday)

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Upper Palisade Lake to above Big Pete Meadow, 16.2 miles

We get an early start photographing this morning. Matt saw a few waterfalls up the trail on the way in last night, and he wants to shoot them before we take off this morning. The first is no problem but there are a couple of tents set up right next to the second, prettier one. It’s just after 7 in the morning, but the people are still asleep when we first come up. We are not anywhere close to them, but they start to stir while we are there, and we feel a little awkward for invading their space. Oh well… (more…)