Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 15: These Legs Were Built For Walking

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

1.5 miles south of Center Basin Creek (mile 198.6) to Guitar Lake (mile 217.2).

Today's miles: 18.6
Trip miles: 217.2

Today started out as a frightening, restless, wet day but blossomed into yet another fabulous, fulfilling day of hiking.

When I went to bed last night, the skies had cleared and the universe displayed millions of its finest stars for my viewing pleasure. It was beautiful. But that all changed around midnight. The ol' saying goes: "It never rains at night in the Sierras during summer." Someone forgot to tell that to the vicious storm that soaked us from 3 am til 6 am. But the rain and wind weren't the only factors..the lightning and thunder were downright scary!

I'll let the videos provide the details.

Needless to say, I got a late start as the rain didn't stop til just after 6 am. I hit the trail at 8 am and felt great. So too did my legs and feet, despite a restless night.

Cold morning after a wet night
rough trail headed to Forester Pass
Rugged and beautiful
trail leading to the clouds
At 9:40 am, I reached Forester Pass, the tallest pass on the John Muir Trail at 13,200 feet.

Forester Pass - Highest pass on the John Muir Trail
I ate my cereal, took a few photos, met an AT alum - trail name Goose, and at 10 am sped down the trail. After the first 15 or so switchbacks, the trail was the most gentle of the entire JMT, allowing me to hike faster than my usual pace without beating up my feet.

flat, smooth trail with incredible 360 degree views
beautiful landscape south of Forester Pass
Past the Shepherd Pass Trail Junction, the views became very dramatic. There were many storms in the area and from vistas like the Bighorn Plateau, they seemed very surreal.

showers in the distance...luckily I'm not headed that way!
headed right into it

By 3:30 pm I had covered 15:5 miles and still felt amazing. I felt I could summit Whitney if I wanted to.

Just then, the clouds broke apart and the bright, warm sun came into view. This was my chance. I sprang into action. I unloaded by pack and started drying everything - including my sleeping bag, air pad, tent and clothes.

I chatted up hikers who passed by, sat around eating, and even wrote notes to the wolfpack and the T.O. trio, which I taped to the trail sign.

message in a ziploc bag
Finally, around 4:45 pm, I collected my belongings and hit the trail once more. But I felt gassed. My legs wouldn't move, but my spirits were still high. Though the last few miles were tough, I slowly made my way up the trail, stopping by to pick up my 'toilet on the go' a.k.a. the wag bag. Because I felt sluggish, I opted to skip the visit to the pit toilet at Crabtree Meadow, but had a smile painted on my face as I recalled last year's visit to that awesome toilet. The scenery and some cool trees also kept my spirits high all the way to Guitar Lake.

pack it out!!!
very cool, symmetrical tree
I arrived at Guitar Lake at 6 pm and quickly set up my tent. Then, I made a beeline to the lake for dinner and a soak.

Guitar Lake
Walking back to my camp, I ran into Chris and Dwayne, the fellas I met at Rae Lakes two days ago. We chatted for a bit and then retreated to the comfort of our tents as the temperature dropped significantly.

Before I went into my tent I decided to stretch for a few minutes and boy am I glad I did. The alpenglow caused by the setting sun was remarkable. For most of the evening, the sun hid behind the clouds, but at the very last moment, it treated us to a sight I will never tire of.

Once in my tent, I began to think about all the miles I've covered thus far. I can't believe that I have walked over 200 miles! Looking at my JMT atlas, only pages 42 and 43 remain. When in Yosemite weeks earlier, I couldn't even fathom covering all of those pages, yet here I am. It feels amazing to be here, on this trail, at this very moment.

It's almost hiker midnight and I plan to rise at 4 am and be on the trail by 5. Summit day tomorrow and the last of my trip!

Hoping to stay dry tonight.
”The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ~John Muir

posted from Bloggeroid


  1. Wow. The aspen-glow pictures are almost chilling. Looks like lava! I've enjoyed following your trip--albeit a year after. The JMT is on my 4 year plan so as I get more solid in my planning, I'll likely have some questions for you.

    1. Ask away! One piece of advice though in regards to planning - don't get bogged down with every detail of the trail. Let the trail surprise you. Focus more on what makes you happy as you hike and when you're at camp and you'll have the time of your life!

    2. Understood. I'm just now trying to get my wife to accept the notion that I want to do this--alone if I need to. A solo I did at the Grand Canyon on the Tonto (just 3 nights)a few years back, about did her nerves in. Three weeks on the JMT will be a real test.
      Sorry to sign in as anonymous, but I'm an old (tech-challenged) guy, and not sure what else to use as a reply.

    3. If you're planning to hike the JMT during late July or August, you will meet lots of other hikers. Some people joke by referring to the John Muir Trail as the John Muir Highway cuz of all the foot traffic during those months :)

      Perhaps that will put her nerves at ease a bit. You can also do what I did and get a SPOT satellite messenger with which you can send texts to her (and others) every night. A word of caution with this experience with this device was spotty (pardon the pun). Some messages were delivered and others were not. If your wife gets the messages sporadically this might be counter productive.

  2. Andy, My 4 year plan has sped up considerably. (No complaints for that) It looks like now I will be taking aim at August 2014, so the questions begin...We (looks like two of us) will be coming from Ohio. Transportation to Yosemite, although complicated, looks doable, but what about the Whitney end? Is there public transportation, or shuttle available to get to the public transportation? Or do you just have to hike or hitch to Lone Pine?


    1. Hi Greg,

      Visit the following website for shuttle info:

      Hitching to Lone Pine is doable (and relatively easy) since there is lots of traffic in the area during the summer months. If you hitch down to Lone Pine, you can take the Eastern Sierra Transit Authority ( bus to the Reno Airport or connect to the YART bus service to get back to Yosemite.

      A really good resource for you Greg would be the John Muir Trail Group on Yahoo groups & the Crib Sheet ( which contains lots of useful info - including bus/shuttle services.

      Happy Hiking! Let me know if you have any more questions.