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.

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