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TR: "JMT" July 2009

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TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby BSquared » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:27 am

Well, I was going to post a nice, long TR with lots of pictures, but things got going out here, the memory fades, days pass, and—as will be seen—it wasn’t an altogether happy trip. But I ought to say something if for no other reason than to thank our many benefactors.

The plan: fly out to California from Burlington, VT, and meet David, from Maryland, to do a JMT through hike over about 20 days. Meet up with Chris and Bob, two other friends from Maryland, at Charlotte Lake for the final few days of the trip.

The reality: hiking was a struggle from the get-go (10 July departure from Happy Isles), and after fatigue (me) and blisters (David), we bailed at Red’s Meadow after five difficult days. We just weren’t having fun. After a complicated network of bus, train, taxi, and rental-car trips, David went home with his blisters (the entire callus on the bottom of his foot came off some weeks after he got home, he tells me!) while I stayed in California with friends (thank you, Bruce and Leona!!) to meet up with Chris and Bob and do the last part of the trip, anyway.

So, back into the mountains on 20 July, starting up Paradise Valley on the 21st: new territory for me—I'd been up Bubbs Creek before but never Pardise Valley, and it’s gorgeous up there: Mist Falls, Castle Domes, and always the Kings River. Wow! However, I’m still way below my usual energy level, even though we’re going a lot slower than David and I did at the beginning, and the weather’s the wettest I’ve ever seen in the Sierra in summer: rains nearly every afternoon and many nights. Glen Pass is a struggle, and we don’t even get to enjoy it because a thunderstorm kicks us off the instant we arrive. Charlotte-Lake layover day is a real treat, made especially nice by finally getting to meet George Durkee in the flesh: thanks for the time, George!

Forester wasn’t as much of a struggle as Glen, so I’m hoping I’m finally getting my altitude legs, but after Forester (on the way down of all things) I began to get very tired again. We stopped at Wallace Creek, where it was extremely buggy, and then up to the tarns above Guitar Lake the next day, where our dinner was delayed until nearly sunset by one whale of a thunderstorm: lightning, torrential rain, hail, winds... whew! With the afternoon and evening showers, we decided on an early-morning ascent of Whitney, so we were up at 4:00 and on the trail by 4:30. It went well at first, but by the time we got to the Whitney junction I’d had it.
This would have been the third time up Whitney for me, so I let the young folks (Chris & Bob are at least a year younger than me ;) run on up the mountain while I negotiated the switchbacks down. I felt better the instant I passed Trail Crest, and by the time I stretched out on the rocks in the sun at Trail Camp I was positively beatific! I did have to keep a wary eye out for marmots after my food, but overall it was glorious to simply veg on the granite. On the way down we negotiated rides with a couple of groups we had been leapfrogging with since Glen Pass, so we got a quick ride down to the Whitney Portal Hostel (highly recommended!), had a pleasant night and then made our way back to the Bay Area and thence back home (Vermont, for me, at least this year… ;)

High points:
-Ran into Sierra Maclure, from this board, at the Yosemite Valley backpacker camp just before our departure. Always nice to meet Topix people! She was about to lead an REI group into the Yosemite backcountry.
-Snow Nymph was nice enough to lend me her Bearikade Expedition, so I didn’t have to rent one (and pack it on the fly, which is always a hassle). Thank you, Snowy!
-Ranboze, also from this board, was nice enough to deliver a cache to Red’s Meadow, and even to attach some fresh fruit to it: Wow! Thank you, Ranboze! I actually ended up using the food, despite the fact that we bailed, because I still needed food for the last leg.
-Pleasant chats with George at Charlotte about rangering, the Sierra, and the state of the world in general.
-Leapfrogging with some awfully nice folks all along the trail; this is a great feature of all long hikes, and we were particularly blessed on this one with great chance companions.
-A great hike in Big Basin State Park during the “down” time between the two legs. I hadn’t been in the redwoods for years, and it was great to get back for a few hours.

I’m thinking the fatigue—especially at altitude—is largely due to a beta blocker, which I started last summer after some mild arrhythmias. Anybody know what to do about this (besides, obviously, trying to get off the damn drugs!)?
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Exhausted Bill.jpg
Me deciding to go straight on down to Trail Camp and give the peak a pass for this trip
—B²



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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby gdurkee » Mon Oct 26, 2009 6:52 pm

Came back to your camp to talk you into coffee, but you guys had left. Great meeting some Topix folk -- we all look much younger than our photos!

g.
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby Shawn » Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:25 pm

Hey - I still enjoyed reading your TR. Sorry it didn't go as planned, but I think we can relate in various ways. Looks like lots of good memories in the "plan B (squared) version.
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby maverick » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:52 am

Sorry your trip did not turn out the way you would have liked it too, but at least you
did spend some time in the mountains which beats spending time any where else, at
least to me.
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby BSquared » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:55 am

As I read the TR, I see that I emphasized the down side: the trip was better than it sounded. As Maverick noted, and to paraphrase the bumpersticker, "A bad day in the mountains is better than a good day at work!" :nod:

Thanks, Shawn and Maverick, for the encouragement. And George, you don't look a day over 39 --.
George.jpg
George Durkee with coffee.
...nor did we, eh? :\ Well, OK, that photo at the trail junction makes me look all of my 64 years, but I felt it up there! :(

As I look back through the pictures (one of these days I'll get myself a website where I can post these things), I remember another high point: those fantastic foxtail pines in the Kern drainage. What cool trees!
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Chris & Foxtails.jpg
Chris with foxtails.
—B²
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby Skibum » Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:08 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience. I'll second the sentiment that just "being" in the mountains can be just as rewarding or healing.

Plus, you got to meet my hero George! :cool:
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby hikerduane » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:27 pm

Thank you for the report, though brief.:) Sorry things didn't work out. I cut my trip short three weeks ago, decided I was going to lakes where the big fish were and I'm not a big fish catcher and I don't like the wind. The single digit mornings were fine without the wind.
Piece of cake.
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Re: TR: "JMT" July 2009

Postby copeg » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:23 pm

Thanks for the report. Unfortunate to hear about all the setbacks, but it still sounds like you made the best out of it!
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