Three of us, 10 days in, on Muir Pass.
Last year, in 2010, Ken and I hiked the entire state of Washington, finally getting to Canada and finishing the entire PCT. Well, at least Ken finished, I still have about 500 miles in California to do. So, for this year I wanted to start chipping away at those 500 so I can truthfully say that I finished the entire PCT. But it has been a really busy year, so I didn't think I would spend much time hiking.
But as this summer wore on, I realized that I better make plans if I was going to go at all. One of the PCT sections that I haven't hiked is the 150 miles of semi-desert from the Mojave Desert to Kennedy Meadows. Since 150 miles didn't seem long enough, I was thinking about continuing for another 60 miles and exiting at Whitney portal, near where the PCT joins the JMT.
Wesley was excited to go with me, so we planned a two week trip. During preparation, we realized that we were in for a very hot hike, in the wrong season because we couldn't count on trail angels to keep the water caches loaded in the desert. After talking to Ken, we changed our minds and decided that we would start at Kennedy Meadows and hike into the Sierras joining the JMT near Mt. Whitney and see how far we could get along the JMT in two weeks.
This plan called for a new record for us: hike over 150 miles without a resupply. To efficiently use our two weeks, we planned to hike from Kennedy Meadows to Muir Ranch in 8 or 9 days, thinking that we could hike about 20 miles a day.
Less than 24 hours before our departure, our roster changed and we got an addition: our friend Andrew wanted to join us. He had never done any long distance hiking, but he was in great shape and very enthusiastic. So we helped him buy food and loaned him some equipment. A trip to REI completed his preparation -- which included new boots. However, we didn't have time to change our itinerary, since we figured that if we didn't make it to Muir Ranch, we could adjust along the way.
So that is how the trip begin... not too much planning but eager to go. We had a great time, overcoming the usual difficulties. Andrew proved to be a very able hiker. He was also very determined to do the whole JMT. Our two week hike turned into almost a 3 week hike, but we met our main goal of getting to Muir Ranch without a resupply, and we finished the entire JMT one more time.
Finally, I want to note that hiking North made the hike remarkably different and new. Also, the JMT is becoming a very crowded place -- on average we past 40 hikers a day going South. A ranger told us that in 2001, when I did the hike for the first time, about 300 permits were issued for the JMT. This year over 2000 were issued.
This year, I kept a written journal, which is posted here with pictures.
As always, thanks for your interest... Dal.