Day 4: Bail Out! (Part One)

Date: June 26, 2014
Miles hiked: 9.7 + 0.5 miles off trail
Starting location: Shadow Lake (49.5)
Ending location: Red's Meadow Resort (59.2)

I awoke at first light to the sound of rain falling on my tent.  It was only about 4:30am at that point, and I couldn't tell if Jon was up yet because he was just far enough away from me that it would be really hard to hear him moving around.  I decided to roll over and go back to sleep for a while in hopes that maybe the rain would stop.  Upon waking up again about 45 minutes later, this was not the case.

I can't say I was thrilled with the prospect of hiking in the rain, but I had practiced how to entirely pack up inside my tent and get the tent down last (and quickly) in a situation like this, so I wasn't too worried.  I began packing up my things and waterproofing the contents of the inside of my pack in order to clear room so I could eat breakfast.  After a few minutes I figured that Jon would probably be awake, so I crammed my sock-less feet into my shoes and dashed out in the rain to get our bear cans.  I delivered Jon's bear can to his tent, and he was grateful.

After eating breakfast, we both wrestled our tents into manageable lumps (no hopes of getting them actually rolled up properly), strapped them to our respective packs, donned our rain gear, and attacked the climb up to Rosalie Lake that we had put off the night before.  It was during this time that the wind started, and I realized how quickly a rain poncho can turn into a kite.  Luckily I had prepared for this and had an extra guy line from my tent ready to deploy as a belt in case of that kind of a situation.

For the first hour or so of our day the wind was fierce and freezing.  My hands and face were numb and we trudged through mud and deep puddles that had formed as a result of the rain (and it wasn't even raining that hard!).  Morale was low, and after a conversation I had had with Jon the night before I pretty much figured we would be getting off trail at Red's Meadow.  I had already decided not to continue the hike alone because even though I felt fine physically, I don't think I was mentally prepared to do so.

Once we passed through Rosalie Lake the wind died down and the walk through the forest the rest of the way to Red's Meadow was actually pretty nice.  We passed by a number of lakes; none of which I can remember the names of since we weren't looking at the maps at that point.  As we hiked along we passed people who were still snuggled up in their nice big double walled tents, and I was a little jealous.  The forest was wonderful though, and the air smelled like Christmas.

The final descent into Red's Meadow was long, but offered beautiful views of Devil's Postpile and the surrounding area.  The immediate area around this part of the trail had been damaged by a crazy wind storm several years back, and there were massive trees everywhere that had been uprooted and knocked over or simply snapped in half like they were just small twigs.  I hear a lot of people complain about this section, but it was really kind of impressive.

We ended up making a wrong turn right around the junction to Red's Meadow Resort, and we walked for a good fifteen minutes in the wrong direction.  A nice woman who was out day hiking helped us get back on track, and then we found ourselves at Red's Meadow at last!

Once we arrived, we ordered food.  I had a delicious cheeseburger and coffee which, to my delight, had bottomless refills.  While we ate, we contemplated the logistics of the end of our journey.  There was another hiker there named Linda Beth who was in the same boat as us, and we brain stormed over transportation back to Yosemite Valley.  It was decided eventually that we would get the $7 shuttle from Red's Meadow into Mammoth, and then Linda Beth would join us in attempting to hitch hike back into Yosemite.

The events that unfolded from this point forward probably merit their own entry, so for now Day 4 is to be continued...

Day 3: Beast Mode: Activate

Date: June 25, 2014
Miles hiked: 17.1
Starting location: Below Donahue pass (32.4)
Ending location: Shadow Lake (49.5)

Holy crap today was challenging.  We went over two passes and had two more significant climbs, but I felt awesome all day except for soreness in my feet.

Our day started around 5 am when the alarms rang (I was already awake).  We got packed up and did our morning chores with a lovely view of the frosty meadows in the background and that wonderful waterfall making it's magical waterfall noises.

We finally left camp around 7 am and started the ascent of Donahue Pass (elevation 11,056ft).  It was FREEZING when we started hiking, and I was glad that the trail climbed steeper away first to warm us up. I had some caffeine crystal light mix in my water and I was freaking PUMPED.  He climb up Donahue was AMAZING. We passed through lush forests, went over a few foot bridges, passed some incredible alpine lakes, and we even got to climb through a little baby snow field on top.

The other side of Donahue was even more amazing. We stayed on level trail through a high alpine meadow on the way to Island Pass (elevation 10,200ft).  We probably saw no less than 20 Marmots along the way.  They are so cute!

The climb up Island Pass wasn't too bad, and we stopped at the top to have lunch over looking Thousand Island Lake.  We had some service up there and Jon got to make some calls (hi Jon's mom and Melissa!).  Net the end of our little lunch break we noticed some clouds starting to form over the mountains we had just come from, so we decided we had better move on.

The trail dipped down and then back up to climb over to Ruby Lake, where we met a woman out backpacking with her kids who seemed pretty impressed at the miles we were trying to get done for he day. She was very nice and encouraging, which was great.  From Ruby lake, the trail climbed back up a little bit and then went down to Garnet Lake which was amazingly beautiful but so windy we could barely stand.

From Garnet Lake, we climbed up for a while and them began the long descent down to Shadow Lake, which is where we are camped now.  The last two or three miles of walking today for me were definitely the hardest even though they were all downhill.  My feet hurt so bad that the toes started to go a little numb...uh oh. Luckily it would go away if I seat down for a few minutes, so hopefully more shorter rest breaks will solve that issue tomorrow.  The descent into Shadow Lake was really beautiful though, and there are a ton of good campsites next to this awesome stream on the way down. I would really like to come back to this area someday.

Our campsite at Shadow Lake is pretty small, but it works. It's a little windy right now, but mostly the wind is staying up in the trees, so it just sounds eerie.  Another great campsite at the end of a long day.

I promise I will post pictures later. I also want to say to Jon's mom not to worry if you don't get many updates from us until the end of our hike.  It's my understanding that cell service gets pretty sketchy from here on.

Day 2: Lyell Canyon is Magical

Date: June 24, 2014
Miles hiked: 19.1
Starting location: Sunrise high Sierra camp (13.3)
Ending location: 4 miles below Donahue Pass (32.4)

Today was pretty awesome. It was also pretty easy.

We woke up around 5:30 am and kind of dragged ass getting out of camp.  We started hiking at 7:30, and the meadow we had camped in was amazing in the daylight.  The trail meandered along for a while through the meadows, offering awesome views of Cathedral Peak.  

From the meadow we climbed up and over Cathedral Pass, passing Cathedral Lake, and into Tuolumne Meadows.  TUOLUMNE MEADOWS IS GLORIOUS.  Meadows are probably my second favorite thing to ridge walking, and Tuolumne Meadows definitely lives up to its namesake.

Jon and I decided that since it was only 12:30 we were going to hike all the way to the base of Donahue Pass tonight.  Since Lyell Canyon is relatively flat, we decided to take an long break at the general store and grill and eat lunch before pushing on.

The Tuolumne Meadows store and grill is great. He number of hikers outnumbered the number of tourists, and it was fun to talk to like minded individuals. We even got to meet a few PCT hikers who were passing through.

After a delicious lunch, we filled up our water bottles and headed up Lyell Canyon.  I hadn't heard much about Lyell Canyon prior to this hike other than it was easy and it is basically a long, mosquito-infested meadow.  LYELL CANYON IS FABULOUS.  I loved it so much.  Not only were the meadows beautiful but he stream running through it was incredible! Just cool, clear, slow-moving water.  I can't wait to come back and incorporate this into another trip.

On our way up Lyell Canyon we met another JMT-er named Matt who was from Oregon.  He was very nice, and I was disappointed that he isn't doing the trail as quick as we are. He ended up camping a few miles back from us, and we most likely won't see him again.

Around the end of the day about where Matt turned off to go camp, my feet started to feel the day's mileage, and not in a pleasant way.  I am hoping that they'll feel better in the morning after a good night's sleep.  Despite the foot pain the last hour or so of today, the rest of today was incredible, and it was so worth it to push on to the campsite we are at now.  We are in a beautiful meadow right now with a HUGE waterfall coming down from the canyon wall above us.  It's a really beautiful campsite, and although I'm a little worried about bears (bears are known to be a problem in this area) I think I will sleep well tonight.  Tomorrow is a day with a lot of elevation gain and loss, and I think we are going to try to do at least 17 or 18 miles. I'm a little anxious about it, but hopefully we will be ok.

I am really missing my family and Aaron though and I wish I could talk to them.  I know that will probably get better as the days go in, but it's making me a little anxious and depressed right now.  I've been on other long backpacking trips before and it really hasn't bothered me, so I don't know why it does now, but oh well.

(I will add pictures later, I promise!)

Day 1: It's My Hike And I Can Cry If I Want To

Date: June 23, 2014
Miles hiked: 13.3
Starting location: Happy Isles Trailhead (mile 0.0)
Ending location: Sunrise High Sierra Camp (mile 13.3)

Today was ROUGH.

My journey began his morning when I left Santa Cruz (where I had been staying for my best friends wedding) at 4:00 am. I had only gotten about two hours of actual sleep, so the first part of my drive was spent trying not to fall asleep.  I finally got to the valley at 8:45 am and found my friend Jon.  We were about to start the JMT!  How exciting. 

Well at least it should have been.  I tend to work myself into am axions frenzy before starting a vacation, so I was feeling a little melancholy about being away from my family and boyfriend for that long. I'm sure the lack of sleep didn't help either.

Jon and I began our climb out of the valley around 10:30 am.  Getting up to Nevada Falls was a little brutal and steep, and we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves having to do that horrendous climb in the heat of the day.

We didn't spend that much time at Nevada Falls since we've been there twice before (and are due back again at the end of summer), so we had a short lunch and kept climbing. 

Ok, so I am writing this post a few days later, and I will be honest: I don't remember much about that first day except that it was brutal (and brutally hot), water was scarce, I hadn't slept much the night before, and I DEFINITELY didn't eat enough.

We wanted to make it to a campsite that had water, so we ended up hiking unto about 9:00 pm to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. The above mentioned factors basically caused me to have a complete meltdown as we were walking into camp.  Oops.  I felt stupid and was kind of embarrassed, but Jon was cool about it.  We shared his dinner since it was pretty big, and I managed to force down a tortilla with macadamia but butter on it.  Definitely not an optimal start to what should be a pretty awesome hike.

I will add pictures later when service is better.

JMT Gear - The Big 3

Barring any last minute gear changes I think I've finally got my gear dialed in for the JMT (which I'm starting in LESS THAN A MONTH!!!).  I need to get it together and get my resupplies sent out by next week, but other than that everything is for the most part set.

A lot of what I've learned about backpacking has been from others' blogs, so I'm looking to pay it forward a little bit in this post and hopefully help out all you aspiring backpackers out there by walking you through some of my gear choices.

The first thing I guess I should talk about is Base Pack Weight (BPW).  I've seen this term applied differently depending on who is using it, but generally it means weight of everything that's in your pack (sleeping bag, tent, clothes, etc.) minus consumables (food, water, fuel).  I've been obsessively whittling down my BPW since I first got into backpacking a few years ago, so I'm starting out on the JMT with a BPW of 14.3 pounds.  Is it the lightest I could go?  No....I fall into the category of "lightweight backpacker".  If I swapped out certain things or gave up certain comforts (and didn't have to carry a damn bear can) I could easily fall into the "ultralight" category, but I've reached a point where my gear is comfortable and I feel comfortable carrying it, so I kind of stopped obsessing about having a pissing contest with other people about how lightweight my pack is.

OK, now on to some of the gear I'll be carrying for the JMT.  I'm hiking with a partner (hi, Jon!), but I have a solo setup since I had originally intended to hike the trail solo.  To be honest I'm more comfortable just carrying my own separate set of gear anyway because when I'm tired I get a little fussy and just don't like to share.  Carrying all of my own stuff is slightly heavier than if I were to split my gear with my hiking partner, but by slightly I mean like my pack MIGHT have been 1/2 a pound lighter since most of my stuff is so light anyway.  For a full list of my gear with all of the weights listed, please click here or visit the "gear" tab at the top of my website.

The Big 3 (well actually the Big 4)

Pack: ULA Circuit

ULA Circuit all loaded up with my bear canister and everything.

Oh boy.  What can I say?  I've had this pack since January and I love this pack.  The first two times I took it out the shoulder straps were kind of annoying.  I got the S-strap option, and it seemed like they wouldn't stop pinching my underarm fat and just kind of making that area feel bruised, but I figured out that I was an idiot and was wearing the pack all wrong.  I adjusted the torso length to the longest setting and don't tighten the shoulder straps as much, and it's PERFECT.  AMAZING, STUPENDOUS, WONDERFUL.  I could go on and on about this pack.  I have very strong feelings of affection for this pack.  The hip pockets are huge and I can store a full quart of trail mix in there along with other goodies.  The side pockets are huge and easy to get to.  The mesh pocket on the back is ridiculously huge, which means I can put a lot of my crap in it that I need throughout the day without having to open up the main body of the pack and have a hiker garage sale.  This pack has a lot of extra goodies that it comes with (water bottle holsters on the shoulder straps, shock cords on the mesh pocket, hydration bladder, etc), most of which I have removed and this pack still kicks every other packs I've tried in the ass.  As a bonus, it weighs in at only 36 ounces (with all of the extras removed).  Is it the lightest pack?  No.  Is it the most comfortable pack?  For me, yes.

Tent: Henry Shires Tarptent Moment DW

I like to spend time with my tent after taking it for long walks on the beach.

I have to admit; I kind of bought this tent on a whim.  I was using a Tarptent Contrail, and it was OK (I wasn't a fan of the front entry and fussy setup), and then this tent showed up on a gear swap website in basically new condition.  This tent is a lazy person's dream.  There's always debate on JMT forums about freestanding vs. staked tents in the Sierra with people citing freestanding tents as being easier to set up, more weather proof, etc.  If you are one of those people (I used to be!  It's ok!) then please allow me to bestow upon you the simple beauty that is the Tarptent Moment.  All that's needed to get this thing standing are two stakes and one pole.  After a few tries setting it up I can do it in under a minute (That's right...UNDER A MINUTE!!!!), and quite possibly the best part about this tent is that it's has an integral pitch, meaning the tent fly goes up at the same time as the inner bug net part.  This is awesome because there's no fussing around with trying to keep the inside of the tent dry while you're frantically trying to put the rain fly on your tent in a downpour.  "But what about when the stakes won't go in!?"  you might be wondering.  Notice in the picture above that I'm camped on sand.  Well needless to say it's pretty difficult to get a stake to actually stay in sand with any amount of force being exerted on it.  In that situation I ended up making a deadman anchor with my stake and then using heavyish rocks to hold the guy lines and tent taught (you can't really see it in the picture because the end of the guylines are out of the frame).  Normally with a staked tent this would be kind of a pain in the ass, but since this tent only has two stakes it was pretty easy to do and only took about 3 minutes to get the rocks and do it.  It was pretty breezy on the beach that day, and the canopy stayed taught the whole night in that configuration...awesome!

Ok, now that I've sung this tent's praises there are some drawbacks.  This tent is a smidge heavier than a tent that's supported by trekking poles and you also can't easily remove the rainfly if you want to sleep out under the stars with only the net tent up.  It's also made of silnylon which is prone to getting kind of saggy if you don't tighten your guylines before going to sleep for the night (after you've let the tent sit for a little while).  Despite these things, I've used this tent on one multi day trip so far and really liked it.  One day I might switch to something lighter (and more of a pain in the ass to set up) like a Zpacks tent, but for now I'm happy with my little Tarptent.

Sleeping Bag: Hammock Gear Burrow 20 degree w/3oz down overstuff

I don't have a picture of this because I actually haven't gotten a chance to use it yet!  I was really hoping that I would be able to use it on my last trip, but it came in the day after I got back....damn!  I will say a couple of the reasons why I'm excited about it though.  First is that it's actually a quilt and not a sleeping bag.  What this means is that it does not have a traditional zipper with a hood.  Instead, there is a buttoned up area at the bottom where you put your feet and the head end has a single snap with a drawstring so you can cinch it around your neck if you want to.  It's completely open on the bottom underneath you, so you lay directly on your sleeping bag.  This works because it's actually the loft in the down that keeps you warm by trapping your body heat, and the part that's usually underneath you just gets squashed down when you sleep on it, rendering the insulation there pretty much useless which is why it's important to have a good sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground so you stay warm.  Quilts basically just cut out that area of extra unnecessary insulation.  The second reason I'm excited about this is the weight savings....holy moly, the weight savings!  My old sleeping bag weighed about 2.5 pounds, which is not all that heavy.  This new quilt (which has a lower temperature rating than my old bag) weighs in at only 1.25 pounds.  Wow!  The only thing that I've heard that could be a big bummer about using a quilt is that it can get drafty if you don't keep the edges of the bag down.  I'm a pretty warm sleeper, so I'm actually kind of excited about this, and luckily I'm also pretty small, so if I need to snuggle in and stay really warm I'm sure it won't be an issue.  I'll report back once I've had a proper test.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-rest Neoair Xlite Women's

Taking a magical Yosemite Neoair ride.

Not much to say about this other than that it's amazing.  I've used it for the last year all the way from the deserts of Southern California to the soft, lovely pine forests of Yosemite National Park, and it's never done me wrong.  Blowing it up sometimes takes some effort (especially at higher altitudes), but the extra effort I expend blowing it up and deflating it in the morning is not an issue considering I sleep better on this little 8oz air mattress than I do in my own bed at home.  I've made it a habit to pair it with some type of foam pad as well to increase the warmth if I need to as well as protect the bottom.  In this picture I was car camping, so I had my heavier/thicker Therm-a-rest foam pad with me mostly for warmth because it was the middle of winter in Yosemite.  When I'm backpacking, I use a thinner 3oz 1/8 inch foam pad underneath that doubles as my sit pad during the day and something I can wrap around my legs in camp for extra warmth if needed.

Bonus!  Pillow: Cocoon Sleeping Bag Hood Pillow

I stole this image from REI's website because I don't have one of my own.  Thanks, REI!

Ok, this isn't really part of the "Big 4" since in only weighs like 3 ounces, but it is part of my sleep system.  I can't get a good night's sleep without a pillow.  Many lightweight and ultralight backpackers just say to sleep on your shoes or put your extra clothes in a stuff sack and sleep on that, and I've tried those methods and none of them work for me.  I have issues with neck and shoulder pain intermittently, and since switching to a pillow that elevates my head properly it's eliminated that for the most part.  And sleeping on your shoes?  That just sounds immensely uncomfortable.  I'll take the hit on badass points if it means that I get a good night's sleep and don't have crippling back pain the entire trip.

So that's it for the major stuff!  I was going to put the rest of my major gear choices on here, but I think this post is long enough, so I'll split it up and do the rest later.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, then send them my way!

JMT Training on Bighorn Peak

This weekend, after both bailing out of plans to hike Sawmill Mountain and do an overnight at Sheep Camp in the Los Padres National Forest, my good friend and most trusty hiking companion and I decided to head to the local mountains for a JMT prep hike.  Bighorn Peak was our destination, so we both dragged ourselves out of bed at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning and headed for Icehouse Canyon.

The trail up Icehouse Canyon to the saddle is steep, and it was my fourth time climbing it.  Jon and I were feeling good despite our fully loaded packs.  We cruised along the steep ascent up the canyon wall towards the saddle.

Early morning light in Icehouse Canyon

My favorite rock

Dead tree and blue skies

The plan for both of us was to stop at Columbine Spring about half way up to fill up on water for the rest of the dry hike up to the summit of Bighorn Peak.  We realized after climbing up the steepest switchback on the canyon wall that we had passed the spring by about a quarter of a mile....damn!  Although it was only a half mile detour that we had to make it was a huge PAIN IN THE ASS being as we had just completed the steepest part of the climb.  Oh well, at least the water from Columbine Spring was mighty tasty and cold.


I took 4 liters (that's right....A GALLON!) at the spring.  Our hike wasn't going to be that long, but the trail is steep and the day was hot.  Plus I wanted to weight my pack down a little more...this was supposed to be a training hike, after all.

We trudged up the trail after leaving the spring.  It had gotten hotter already in the whole 20 minutes we were there, and other day hikers were out in force.  There are a lot of assholes who like to cut the switchbacks on this part of the trail; to all of my fellow hikers out there that enjoy this area - PLEASE DON'T DO THIS.  The trail is crumbly in some parts already, we don't need you adding to it.

Don't cut switchbacks - a.k.a. DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE!

Hiking up the steep part of the canyon seemed to take way longer the second time around.  It probably didn't actually take any longer than the first, but with the heavier pack I was definitely feeling it.  We finally made it and stopped for a little break to eat something and really because it's just too beautiful not to.

Jon and I at Icehouse Saddle - Bighorn Peak isn't on the trail sign.

Snow Plant - a magical looking little parasite.

From the saddle Jon and I set off towards Bighorn Peak on the Ontario Peak Trail.  The trail contours around the north face of the mountain for a while before ascending steeply up to Kelly Camp.  I had completely forgotten how steep this part of the trail was or maybe never noticed it.  The last time we had hiked this trail when going up to Ontario Peak it was covered in ice and snow, so we were raging about that more than the incline.  We stopped for another minute at Kelly Camp, which looks like a pretty neat little place that I wouldn't mind staying at some day.

Kelly Camp

Kelly Camp

Packs - Jon's on the right, and mine on the left

From Kelly, the trail continues steeply upward again through an old burn area and up to a ridge.  Despite being exposed and windy, this section of the trail is possibly my favorite part of any trail in the San Gabriel Mountains.  There are wide open views all the way to Mt. Baldy, and the dead trees contrast with the new growth and it all just looks really neat.  It's a really unique area of the San Gabriels, and I would probably hike it every day if it wasn't such a pain in the ass to get up to.

Wide open views to Mt. Baldy

Looking down at the Inland Empire

From here, the trail follows the ridge, dipping you back down before climbing steeply back up all the way to Bighorn Peak.  The trail disappears in some places, and when it does it's easy to wind your way through the shrubs.  It's pretty obvious where the summit is.  The scarcity of trees and relative lack of thick undergrowth on this part of the trail lend itself to some pretty awesome views along the ridge line and on the climb all the way up to the summit.

Bighorn Peak on the left & Cucamonga Peak in the background on the right

Tiny plant with a big view

Hiking among dead giants

Old and new

Gnarly roots

The summit of Bighorn Peak is unmarked.  It looks like there might have used to be a sign there, but it has long since blown away or gotten removed along with the summit register.  We couldn't find a marker, either.  The view from the summit is great though with a wide open view of Mt. Baldy on one side and the Inland Empire on the other along with the surrounding peaks, Cucamonga and Ontario, to the East and West.

Me on the summit

Jon on the summit

The lack of wind on this day was surprising since high wind had been forecasted for the peaks in that area.  We decided to take advantage of it and enjoy ourselves by cooking some lunch and looking at all of the weird, pitted dead trees that were left still standing up there.

What caused this?

After enjoying lunch of cous cous and tuna (for Jon) and mac and cheese with tuna and honey barbecue sauce (me), we began our descent.  The views coming down were almost more incredible than the ones coming up.  Without the rest of the mountain in view we really got an appreciation for the steepness of the trail and how wide open everything was.

Wide open views

Descending Bighorn Peak back toward the ridge line

I love ridge lines

When we reached the trail junction to the trail heading back down to Kelly Camp and the saddle we saw the first group of people that we had seen since leaving the saddle a few hours prior.  While a lot of people hike up Icehouse Canyon to the saddle, hardly any come up to the surrounding peaks.  The rest of our descent back down to the trailhead was certainly less busy than in the morning when we were coming up.  We got a lot of questions about our packs and where we were coming from and quite a few puzzled looks when we told people that we were just on a day hike and were coming down from Bighorn Peak.

The Icehouse Canyon Trail passes by the ruins of a few stone buildings as well as numerous tiny waterfalls that flow down from the canyon wall into Icehouse Creek.  I managed to get some pictures of this lovely area as we were coming back through it, and the afternoon light made everything look much greener and more lush.  The whole area kind of reminds me of Big Sur.

So green

One of the tiny waterfalls of water flowing down the canyon walls

A bigger waterfall in the creek

Overall, the hike was just what I needed to get my butt moving on a Sunday as well as perfect preparation for our upcoming JMT trip this summer.

Post-hike notes:

Feet: Brooks Cascadias + Injinji socks + Superfeet Berry = awesome, amazing, FREAKING INCREDIBLE!!!  I changed my socks and dried my feet out 1/2 way through, and it worked fabulously.  This was the first hike that I didn't have any blisters....NOT ONE!  Not even a little one!  I didn't even have to tape my feet, and they didn't turn into hamburger meat!  Wooooo!

Pack: Comfortable at about 25-ish pounds.  It may have been a little lighter than that at the beginning, and it was definitely lighter at the end.  I LOVE MY CIRCUIT.

Clothes: Got a tiny spot of pack rash I think because of my shirt?  Try a new shirt.  I also need to get a new hat because I'm a bozo and keep insisting on wearing this one instead of my larger brimmed one (which doesn't work well with my backpack), but I get slightly sunburned every time even with liberally reapplying sunscreen every hour.  Stupid...but it is my favorite hat.  New Montbell wind shirt was amazing (and it weighs only 1.9 oz!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

Food:  Pemmican meal bars...hell yeah!  These are coming on the JMT.  So are Larabars.  The honey BBQ sauce from Chick-fil-a added to my mac and cheese + tuna concoction at lunch sounds and looks disgusting, but I can assure you that it was delicious.

Water: My combination of Smartwater + Platy bottles + Sawyer Mini filter worked GREAT!  I've been working on transitioning to water bottles instead of a bladder at least for the JMT because they're lighter and it's easier to tell how much I'm drinking.  I was able to monitor my fluid intake way better this way, although it was a pain in the ass to fill up the Smartwater bottles with the Sawyer Mini.  One thing that I've learned about the Sawyer Mini is that the top of it (where the clean water comes out) fits perfectly into a 1L Gatorade bottle which minimizes spillage.  Maybe I'll just go with a 1L Gatorade bottle for the JMT since I won't have to carry as much water because there will be more water sources.

Other:  Definitely bringing the nice camera (see my last post) on the JMT.  Just look at these pictures!  I doubt I could have gotten the same quality with my iPhone (and admittedly I didn't even try).

If you'd like to see more pictures of this hike, please visit my Flickr album.

Derpin' with dad's camera.

A few days a go I decided to fiddle around with my dad's Canon G15 to see if I really want to take a dedicated camera on my JMT hike this summer or if I would just stick to my trusty (and light...and multiuse) iPhone for all of my picture taking needs.

Naturally just toodling around taking pictures of random things at home turned into a photo shoot of my cats.




So concerned

Makin' faces

Anyway, this camera was pretty easy to use.  I used it once before on my trip to Chain Lakes last summer with my best friend Courtney, and it proved to be worth its weight on that trip, so I guess I'll lug it 200-some-odd miles through the Sierra Nevada this summer.  If I don't end up using it that much I can always send it home at one of my resupply locations or just carry the extra 12 ounces (gasp!  So heavy!).

If you'd like to see more pictures of my wonderful cat mini-shoot, check out the album on my Flickr account.