John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Four

Sallie Keys Lakes to McClure Meadow: 15.5 miles.

Sept. 15th, 2011.

This is the day I found my trail legs and felt totally acclimated. I woke up feeling strong and rested and after drying out my quilt, bivy and tarp from the condensation and rain I hit the trail. My pack was light (with almost no food) as I walked through the meadows just below Sallie Keys Lakes. I fell into my usual two mile/hour pace and quietly came across two groups of deer in a clearing. The morning fog was just lifting from the meadows and the sky was clear and blue. I made it down the switchbacks to Muir Trail Ranch to collect my resupply and after socializing with some familiar hikers I made my way along the San Joaquin River toward Evolution Valley.

Sunrise on Sallie Keys Lake.

A family of Deer along the trail.

I was starting to see some familiar thru-hikers as we ran into each other at various times along the trail. As I sorted out my resupply more and more people made it to MTR, a popular resupply point at the middle of the JMT. It's been months now since I left the trail and I can't remember all of the names, but we had a good time talking gear and food at the ranch. Talk of food seems to be the main topic of conversation with thru-hikers. One guy joked that his base weight was only eight pounds, but he carried forty pounds of food.

After resupplying my pack weighed 17 pounds with all the food I needed to complete the final 110 miles to Whitney Portal in 7 days.

Entrance to Muir Trail Ranch.

Resupply cabin at Muir Trail Ranch.

Resupply at MTR.

The obligatory ultralight scale photo. 17 pounds for the final 7 days/110 miles.

San Joaquin River.
The trail along the San Joaquin River is beautiful with great views of the river. I passed the Piute Trail Jct. and crossed the bridge into Kings Canyon National Park. Kings Canyon is home to Evolution Valley, Muir Pass, Pinchot Pass, Forester Pass and the other high passes that followed.

Bridge over Piute Creek.

The entry to Kings Canyon.

It was 5:00 pm by the time I reached Franklin Meadow and the switchbacks up to Evolution Valley. I was starting to really hit my stride and in the later afternoons I seemed to have unending energy. I made it up the 700 feet of steep granite steps and switchbacks up to Evolution Valley and in less than an hour I was crossing the creek at Evolution Meadow.

The benefit to traveling in the 'late season' during mid to late September is that there are no crowds and very few mosquitoes. Unfortunately this time of year also means shorter days and by 6:30 pm it was getting dark. It was 7:00 pm before I made it to McClure Meadow and made camp for the night. I slept under the trees with the sound of Evolution Creek quietly passing by.

Evolution Creek near my camp by McClure Meadow
A video of beautiful Evolution Creek:

Map (click for full size)

Elevation profile (click for full size)

John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Three

Quail Meadows to Sallie Keys Lakes: 16.5 miles.

Sept. 14th, 2011.

I got another late start and somehow didn't get on the trail until 9:50 am. I must have needed the recovery time and at least I was leaving an hour earlier than the day before. Camping at Quail Meadows was a perfect place to rest and get ready to hike up Bear Ridge first thing in the morning. I was fresh and ready to head up the 2,000 feet of switchbacks. The trail is well graded along this steep section and it didn't take long to get to the top. I noticed the first tree graffiti carved into the white bark of the trees in this area. At first I thought it was some way of indicating the altitude, but soon I realized people had actually carved their initials into the trees. I wondered who would do that in such a pristine wilderness area?

Bear Ridge switchbacks.

Tree graffiti on the JMT.
I made good time and quickly passed the Italy Lake Trail Jct., Bear Creek Meadow and Rosemarie Meadow. Soon I was chasing the clouds up toward Seldon Pass and passing beautiful Marie Lake. I was still noticing some difficulty getting a full breath of air toward the top of the pass and I felt like I was struggling at the top.

The view of Marie Lake on the way to Seldon Pass.
After Seldon Pass I wandered through an amazing pastoral area filled with flowing creeks and a small lake/tarn surrounded by granite walls. It reminded me of the puffy grass and meandering streams just below Donohue Pass. Total peaceful beauty.

Meandering creek on the way to Heart Lake.

Once past Heart Lake I caught my first glimpse of Sallie Keys Lakes. I had read much about these beautiful remote lakes and I was surprised to come across a lone hiker walking along the shore without a backpack. It turns out he was with a large group that had a base camp set up between the two lakes. There was even a group taking pictures of two girls in row boats on the lake when I passed by. I found a peaceful remote spot in the trees across the lake and set up my tarp and bivy. I did my usual evening routine of stretching and had some dinner by the lake. It was actually calming to fall asleep to the familiar sound of 'Brown Eyed Girl' being played on guitar across the lake that evening. . .  I woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain from another passing storm. Another great night on the JMT.

Sallie Keys Lake & more storm clouds.

Paddlers on Sallie Keys Lake.

Map (click for full size)

Elevation Profile (click for full size)

John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Two

Virginia Lake to Quail Meadows: 13.4 miles.

Sept. 13th, 2011.

I slept in late after tossing and turning most of the night. The bear scare didn't do much for a restful night and my first night at altitude is usually restless anyway. Fortunately the ominous clouds didn't bring much rain during the night. It was around 9:00 am before I finally made it out of the warmth of my quilt to check on the condition of my bear canister and stove. When I went over to check I couldn't believe what I saw. They were both exactly where I had left them the night before. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Was I losing it? Maybe it was the altitude. . .

I made breakfast and stretched/rolled sore muscles while taking in the view of Virginia Lake. The storm had passed and I inhaled a breakfast of dehydrated eggs & ham.

I was still working out the best way to sleep comfortably with my pad and quilt. I woke up with a cold spot right in the middle of my quilt and my legs were getting cold from the ground. It would be awhile till I dialed everything in. Eventually I learned how to move the down around from inside the quilt to where it was needed to stay warm. Within the next few days I found the perfect combination of a Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad, Kookabay Taperlite inflatable pad, Kookabay inflatable pillow, my backpack and various clothing items and rain gear to sleep warm and comfortable.

On the way to the trail I stopped by the lake to fill up on some water. It was then that I realized I had left the small 'mix bottle' for my AquaMira back at the bridge over Duck Creek. I washed out a small bottle that I was using for Camp Suds to use for mixed AquaMira, but my water tasted like soap for a while. It felt like I was moving in slow motion, and I didn't get back on the trail until 10:50 am.

Virginia Lake with the Silver Divide in the background.
Once back on the trail I fell into my usual groove and moved along taking in the amazing scenery. I ran into a group of 6 - 8 people doing a loop trip in the area. They saw me pass and one of the guys called out, "hey, what does your pack weigh?". We hung out for a while talking about lightweight gear and sore knees.

Virginia Lake from the trail.

The trip down the switchbacks to Tully Hole was pleasant, the trail was well graded and the view of the Silver Divide was amazing. Pictures don't do this area justice. I stopped and made coffee about half way down. After about 800 feet of downhill I was in Tully Hole and the south end of the Cascade Valley. The trail follows Fish Creek for a few miles and the terrain is beautiful. A mix of light forest and the flowing creek made for a pleasant walk. I passed a group of older retired guys hanging out by the creek. I thought it would be cool to be spending retirement out here.

Soon I was heading back up switchbacks toward Silver Pass. I passed Warrior Lake and Chief Lake while following a series of carefully constructed granite stairs. This sub-alpine area would be a great place to camp, especially in better weather, but the clouds were gathering again and it was time to keep moving.

The view of the Silver Divide from the top of the switchbacks to Tully Hole.

I noticed that while going up these early passes that I couldn't get a full breath of air. It was like trying to get a full breath in a city with really bad air quality (like L.A. in the 70's) except the air was crystal clear. I could still move along fine, but it would be another day before I got my trail legs/lungs.

Granite stairs on the way up to Silver Pass. 

Warrior Lake on the way up Silver Pass.

Chief Lake on the way up to Silver Pass.

The view from the top of Silver Pass included a panorama of the Cascade Valley, the lakes below and Mt. Banner & Ritter in the distance. This would have been the last view of these dark volcanic peaks, but they were hidden in the clouds.

I hadn't paid much attention to the amount of downhill when studying the maps, but I was in for a big day. From Silver Pass (10,895) to Quail Meadows (7,870) I would be dropping over 3,000 feet. Some of the granite stairs on the way down to Pocket Meadow were brutal. There were plenty of nice camp sites along the North Fork Mono Creek, but I still had plenty of time and energy to keep going.

The view from the top of Silver Pass. Cascade Valley is in the distance. Mt. Banner & Ritter are in the clouds. 

It was along this section that I came across a man sitting alongside the trail with his head down. He had been heading up from Edison Lake with a heavy resupply and looked like he was in bad shape. I tried not to startle him when I asked if he was OK. He looked up and was covered in sweat, drowning in several layers of clothes, a huge gortex parka and a large fully loaded external frame backpack. I asked if he had water and if I could help, but he assured me would be ok. . . so I continued down the switchbacks to Quail Meadows. I still can't figure out why he would carry so much stuff just to 'get away from it all' in nature.

After crossing the bridge over Mono Creek I found several large campsites on the south side of the creek and picked out one of many large flat areas. It looked like this was probably a very popular spot during the middle of summer, but it was mid September and the place was a ghost town.

It started to rain just as I put up my tarp. When it stopped long enough I had dinner by the river and made it back to my tarp just in time for more rain throughout the night. The sound of rain was soothing after a day of so much downhill. I slept like a baby.

Camp at Quail Meadows. Ready for another rainy evening.

A map of day 2 progress (click for full size).

Virginia Lake to Quail Meadows elevation profile (click for full size).

John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day One

Twin Lakes to Virginia Lake: 16.7 miles

Sept. 12th, 2011                                                                                                    

I left the Tamarack Lodge by Twin Lakes in Mammoth and hit the trail by 8:30 am. After almost a year of planning I was excited to finally be on the thru hike section of the JMT. I had already hiked the first 60 miles earlier in the summer and now I would be hiking the final 160 miles solo.

For trip reports on the first two sections of the JMT check out:

Yosemite 2011 ~ Four Day Solo Ultralight Trip

John Muir Trail: Tuolumne Meadows to Devils Postpile.

My resupply was waiting a few days away at Muir Trail Ranch so my pack only weighed about 14 lbs. The back way to the Horseshoe Lake trail head involved some bushwhacking but soon I was heading over Mammoth Pass. This area is mainly forested with just a slight amount of incline over the 'pass'. I connected with the JMT at Upper Crater Meadow and soon I was out of the forest and there were good views of the Cascade Valley.

Entering the Ansel Adams Wilderness on the way to Mammoth Pass.

Views of the Cascade Valley. The clouds would bring rain later that day.

The trail was well graded even with some elevation changes at the outlet of Duck Lake and Purple Lake. On the way up from Duck Lake it started to hail so while seeking shelter under a tree I put on my pack cover and rain parka. I had made both of these out of lightweight cuben fiber (0.34 oz/sqyd and 0.51 oz/sqyd) earlier in the summer and I was interested to see how they 'performed' in a full on rain shower. The pack cover was fine, but the neck seam on the rain jacket leaked even after being seam sealed. I tried using super glue to seal it, but it leaked a little throughout the next few days.

The rocky trail follows the 10,150 ft. elevation contour around a large bluff and eventually descends to Purple Creek. It was raining steadily but I made good time down the granite stairs. After filling up on water at Purple Creek I made my way up more switchbacks on the way to Virginia Lake.

This section was beautiful and I was amazed by a large formation of huge 'newer' looking boulders that looked very much out of place to the right of the trail. Elizabeth Wenks guidebook describes these boulders as a rock glacier that is slowly moving down the slope. I took a break in this area and checked the few pages I brought along of the guidebook for good camp sites at Virginia Lake. Two girls passed me who I had seen putting on their rain back at the outlet of Duck Lake. When I told them I was checking for a good camp near Virginia Lake one of them commented that there is camping all over the place and to just camp wherever you get tired. I felt like a total newbie sitting there reading the guidebook as they cruised by me on their way to Tully Hole for the night.

Soon I was over the crest and heading down to Virginia Lake. The weather did not look good and it was time to find some shelter quickly. I got some more water and headed up to the trees above the lake in search of a good spot to ride out the storm. I had dinner on a rock overlooking Virginia Lake, a beautiful lake with a nice stream feeding it from above. I had read a lot about this lake and was not disappointed.

After stashing my bear canister in some trees far from my shelter I got into my warm down quilt and started what would become my nightly routine of reading the guidebook and maps for the next days travel. My legs were a sore but I had been training all summer by doing 12 mile hikes on the weekends and I had already done a trip with consecutive 15 mile days. I used the bear canister to roll out my right I.T. band which had been a concern earlier in the season. I had no problems the entire trip thanks to the corrective exercises I learned from my friend and trainer Joe Fox in Newport Beach. I was ready to delay my trip and get knee surgery earlier in the year, but Joe showed my how to fix all my knee problems. Joe is a life saver and I can't thank him enough.

I was awakened in the night by what sounded like a bear knocking my bear canister around the rocks. I had left my stove out since I would be using it again in the morning, and I could here it being bounced around on the rocks. My heart was racing and I was ready to jump out and scare the bear away. After a while the bear seemed to get tired and since it couldn't get at the food it seemed to go away. I was tired and after a while went back to sleep. I tossed and turned most of the night.

Tarp & Bivy in rain mode at Virginia Lake.  

Virginia Lake at the end of Day 1. Ominous clouds never brought much rain that night.

A video of the hail storm on Day 1:

A map of the days progress (click for full size):

twin lakes to Virginia lake elevation profile (click for full size)

Click here for John Muir Thru Hike: Day Two

John Muir Trail Thru Hike: Day Zero

Mammoth Ranger Station to Twin Lakes: 6 miles

Sept. 11th, 2011.

Day zero was mostly a travel day from Laguna Beach to Lone Pine. Somehow right before leaving town work gets extremely busy, so as usual I was pushed for time when it was finally time to get out of town. I had been planning this trip for a year so fortunately all of my gear was dialed in and ready to go. I worked into the night and didn't get on the road until 10:00 pm. I arrived in Lone Pine at 2:00 am and the local sheriff told me to just park next to the local park and my car would be fine. All of the locals in Lone Pine were extremely nice and helpful, even the sheriff offered to give me a ride from Whitney Portal, but I was arriving too late and he was off his shift by the time I got there.

I caught the early morning CREST bus out of Lone Pine to Mammoth. I sat next to a guy who had just finished a 10 day trek in the backcountry. We talked about the gear he had made himself and he asked about my home made backpack etc. His rain gear was very cool and it gave me an idea to try something similar myself. He was using a poncho tarp, but without a hood, just a hole in the middle. He had made it through some bad weather just fine. He was a great guy and had a lot of knowledge and experience in the high Sierra's.

By the time we reached Mammoth I was starting to get excited about the trip. I could hardly beleive it was finally time to hit the trail for 11 days solo. Total freedom from all responsibility and lots of space to do and think whatever I want. I was looking forward to plenty of trail meditation. The bus dropped me off at the local McDonalds and while I was enjoying a final 'real' high calorie meal a guy came over to me asking about my ultralight backpack and other gear. We ended up talking ultralight gear while I was finishing some cheeseburgers.

It was a short walk over to the permit office in Mammoth. I was one of only two other people in the office and it didn't take long before I was on road walking to the tram stop to Twin Lakes. After waiting a while I realized it was futile to sit around so I started walking to the trail head. A nice guy picked me along the way, he recognized me from the permit station, and took me to the downtown/village area. I found out that the tram to the Twin Lakes area was closed for the season so I decided to just walk.

By the time I arrived at Twin Lakes I was starting to feel the lack of sleep from the last few days. While checking out the Tamarack Lodge I decided to just get a room and leave early the next morning. I slept straight for 18 hours and was on the trail by 8:00 the next morning. The locals at the front desk told me about a back way into the John Muir Wilderness and soon I was on the trail around the south side of Mammoth Mountain and onto the JMT just north of the Red Cones.

Tamarck Lodge by Twin Lakes.

John Muir Trail: Tuolumne Meadows to Devils Postpile

Last spring while walking the dogs I ran into my familiar neighbor Dwayne. Dwayne has an easygoing personality overflowing with the enthusiasm reminiscent of the relatives I knew as a kid in Ohio. He is recently retired and always friendly while leisurely pruning the gigantic sunflowers in his driveway or polishing his new Lexus. He is often seen hiking up the local hillsides to stay in shape for ski season. No big deal. Just another in-shape 60-something enjoying some snow sports. Little did I know that Dwayne had climbed Mt. Whitney several times. . .he did all 20 miles up to 14,496 feet and back as a day hike. Dwayne scoffs at the people who lounge overnight at the base camp along the way. I noticed he was wearing an old Mt. Whitney t-shirt when he gave me a picture of him on the summit. 

There was no time to mention my plans to hike the JMT as he insisted that if it was only possible to do one section on the JMT that his route was the best. On this day he was pouring it on, turning a suggestion into an absolute necessity, something that must be included on ones bucket list.  Dwayne went on to explain the details: Hike the John Muir Trail from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow Resort (near Mammoth) and pass through the best part of the trail; Ansel Adams Wilderness. None of it was conjecture, there were no opinions. Just facts. This route was the best (period).

He was preaching to the choir. I had already started making plans to finish the JMT in three sections. The first 28 miles in July, the next 32 miles in August and the final 160 miles solo in September. After doing the first part solo the second section would follow his suggested plan exactly. A short time later I had the permit for six people to leave Tuolumne Meadows the last week of August. He was in. We started talking about gear, maps and other details. I prefered to include ultralight gear while Dwayne talked about carrying a nine millimeter for bear protection. I thought this was hilarious. . . who would protect the wildlife from Dwayne? It was all harmless. I would bring my wife Candy, old buddy Brad and newer friend from backpackinglight Jerry. Dwayne would bring a young friend just out of the Marines. Our permit for six was full and we were ready to go.

Two weeks before the trip Dwayne walked across the street to my driveway. He didn't sound good. Unfortunately he had been diagnosed with throat cancer and would be starting chemo therapy soon. He and his buddy were out.

For the months leading up to the these trips I had started to feel uncertain about taking so much time off of work. Dwayne helped me see that the time is now. So off we go ~

Day 0:

After staying at the Mammoth Lodge the night before we met Jerry in front of the lodge and took the early Crest shuttle to Tuolumne Meadows. Jerry had already been hiking for most of the week around Yosemite and was eager to start the trip that morning. We had very little sleep the night before just getting ready to get out of town so we decided to stick with the original plan and kick it around Tuolumne Meadows after picking up the permit. We camped in the backpackers camp and after enjoying some tasty food at the TM 'restaurant' we played cards around camp and got to bed early.

Day 1: 11 miles. Tuolumne Meadows to just above the Lyell Fork Bridge.

The next morning we got a relatively early start (for a group) and followed the trail from the backpackers camp to the JMT that Jerry had scouted out. Soon we were enjoying the leisurely hike up Lyell Canyon. Here's the crew on day 1:

Andy, Candy, Jerry & Brad.
We started at Tuolumne Meadows.
The water had a greenish/aqua color and was clear all the way to the bottom. . . and very cold.

The water along the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River was beautiful.

Wildlife in Lyell Canyon.

Lyell Canyon: Click for Full Size Pano.

It's an easy mainly flat hike to the end of Lyell Canyon. Soon Donohue Pass was in view. We would be hiking over the snow covered mountains in the background the next day. . .

Lyell Canyon with Donohue Pass in the distance.

We could hear this waterfall from a long way, it's draining from the snowfields above along the Kuna Crest:

We could hear this waterfall for miles away. This is near the end of Lyell Canyon. The water is draining from snow on the Kuna Crest.

By early afternoon we arrived at the end of Lyell Canyon so there was plenty of time to start up the first switchbacks toward Donohue Pass. Here's the view back towards Lyell Canyon from the first switchbacks:

Looking back at Lyell Canyon as we hiked up the beginning of Donohue Pass.

After about 900 feet of elevation gain we reached the Lyell Forks Bridge. Candy was starting to feel the effects of the elevation but powered through with no problem.

After hiking up the first 900 feet of switchbacks out of Lyell Canyon we finally reached the Lyell Fork Bridge. We camped nearby after making about 11 miles the first day.
We used head nets around camp to keep the bugs away.

Andy & Candy in camp.

Jerry chilling after a long day. Being a well prepared UL'er Jerry brought a Kindle (4 oz) with the JMT guidebook already downloaded on it. When it was time to find a good camp at the end of the day he just consulted the JMT guidebook. Jerry was a very welcome part of the group!

Jerry's Zpacks Hexamid Twin Tent with optional extended beak. 11.1 ozs of cuben luxury.

Day 2: 8 miles. Lyell Forks Bridge to Thousand Island Lake:

The next morning we started up the final part of Donohue Pass:

Ready to get head over Donohue Pass.

Jerry & Brad, trail dudes. Jerry is carrying a Gossamer Gear Gorilla . Brad is trying out a new Osprey Exos.

The view facing south from the top of Donohue Pass (11,056 feet). We are using lightweight backpacks made from cuben fiber. Candy is carrying a ZPacks Zero and I'm using a home made pack of my own design. Each one only weighs about 6 ozs. Candy's total pack weight was 10 lbs, mine was 20 lbs (I was carrying the tent and food for two people for four days). Going lightweight made the trip a breeze.

A short video from the top of Donohue Pass.

That is Brad heading down from Donohue Pass on the south side towards Island Pass. The well maintained trail made for an easy hike down.

We descended into this amazing area with crystal clear creeks that meandered throughout the boulders, puffy grass and flowers.

As we passed through I made a mental note to go back to this area between Donohue Pass and Island Pass to explore later.

Soon we had reached the top of Island Pass and into Ansel Adams Wildnerness.

Video of Candy on top of Island Pass.

Soon we had our first glimpse of Thousand Island Lake. . .

 We camped along the shore of Thousand Island Lake with amazing views of Banner Peak. We all had dinner on a little peninsula. The color of the water reminded me of the Bajamas, but much much colder. There was actually a sandy bottom which felt great on our sore feet.

Day 3: 10 miles. Thousand Island Lake to Gladys Lake.

Thousand Island Lake.

Thousand Island Lake. 

At first light I got up and took these picture from a little rock island in the lake near our camp. Jerry was eager to hit the trail and he said goodbye at about 6:30 am while I was taking these photos. From there on out it was just the three of us.

Click for Full Size Pano.

Click for Full Size Pano.
As we head back toward the JMT (our camp was accessed from a use trail along Thousand Island Lake, a 1/2 mile detour off the JMT) we ran into a family of ducks. The Lupin was still blooming along the shore. The start of a great day. . .

Brad, Candy & Ducks on the trail.
The footbridge at the outlet of Thousand Island Lake.

Garnet Lake, Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak from the JMT.

The footbridge over the outlet of Garnet Lake.

On the Garnet Lake footbridge.

Goofing for the camera.

We camped at Gladys Lake the third night. The lake was cold but the water felt great washing off the days trail dust. We made a quick dinner and enjoyed the sunset on the lake. Candy and Brad were eager to get an early start the next day and get home. . . I was in no hurry to leave the wilderness.

We used a Big Sky International 2 person tent. At the time it was the lightest freestanding 2 person tent with 2 doors and 2 vestibules. They have since started to offer a cuben version that is lighter but over $800. Ouch:).

Gladys Lake the last night.

Brad used the Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape & Serenity Net Tent:

Sunset on Gladys Lake.

Sunrise on Gladys Lake.

Day 4: 5 miles. Gladys Lake to Devils Postpile.

We got an early start and soon we were at Devils Postpile.
After getting an early start on day four we arrived at Devils Postpile.

The top of the postpiles were, mostly like you would expect. Postpiles with some glacial polishing thanks to the most recent ice age.

C'Andrew on top of the postpiles.

Andy, Candy & Brad at the Postpiles.

This was an easy group hike at a leisurely pace with low daily mileage to keep it fun for all. We hiked about 32 miles in 3 and 1/2 days. This was Brads first experience with lightweight gear and he was hooked. Over the years I have ended up with a bunch of extra lightweight gear and I am always happy to lend UL gear to friends. Brad liked the SMD Gatewood Cape and Serenity Net Tent so much that he ordered his own when he got home.

Candy likes the double wall two person tent (the 'Condo') and the comfort of a full length Therm-a-rest Neo-Air sleeping pad. She sleeps cold and uses a 15 degree sleeping bag to stay toasty warm and comfortable at night. I carried the food, tent and sleeping pads for both of us. 
Carrying a heavier pack than usual felt like good training for the 160 mile thru-hike section that I was starting in two weeks. I was definitely ready to do 15 - 20 miles a day.

What worked:

Easy low mileage days for Candy & Brad since this was their first time doing over 5 miles/day.

Lightweight home made quilt. I brought a 17 ounce 20 degree rated quilt that was actually too warm. I probably could have used a 12 ounce 40 degree quilt and been just fine.

What didn't work:

Trying to stay together on the trail all day. It would have been easier to just pick a lunch spot and final camp spot and agree to meet along the way.

If you are reading this as part of the JMT 2011 Trip Report follow this link: