John Muir Trail August 13th 2013 to September 5th 2013 June Storment, Judy Eidson, Connie Simmons, Nancy Vail (which had to bail the day before the trip)
We plan and replanned for this trip, it was all worth the time, as the hike went as planned.
It took 10 hrs to drive from Phoenix to Mammoth Lakes, Ca – 600 miles. Lenny Krantz a friend that shuttle our jeep down to Whitney Portal gave us a world wind tour of their beautiful ski town.
First we decided on the amount of days we needed to hike. We didn’t feel any need to set amount of days, we are all retired, we exited out on the 21st day. We decided when a storm rolled in we would stop early. We did camp right outside of Red
Meadows(near Devil’s Post Pile) so the next day we would have a full day to do laundry, resupply & have a good meal, we did take zero day at Muir Ranch. This ranch was a delight, as you enter there is a backpackers bell that you ring to have friendly staff greet you. There was a cowboy training a colt, happy dogs ready to go with the mule packers & 2 close to 80 year olds cowgirls that could tell you stories that made you smile!
If you have reservations you can use the private hot springs, wringer washing machine,
& have a great breakfast, sack lunch & supper. Our supply locations would be Red Meadows , Muir Ranch and to carry 11 days worth of food! Yes it all fit into the bear canisters, anything that had a scent in their toiletry bag needed to go into the bear canister also. We did have an option to exit out at Kearsarge Pass, or get a pack animal, we decided against both. With very carefully planning it was successful!
I felt the meal planning was the most time-consuming. My game plan was to get the right fats, carbs and protein in. I dehydrated a lot of fruit, protein, brought dried salami tortillas, pita, flat bread, hard cheese, polenta couscous, trail mix protein drinks, Probars just to name a few. it all paid off!
I didn’t train probably hard enough but I had no issues nor the other girls, we only got stronger each day and when we took breaks we would soak our feet which helped me to take the swelling out of my swollen, sweaty feet. We did do is shake down in Colorado the month before for 4 days with all of our gear, clothing and try to mimic our trip. Again I felt that was helpful.
We had no problems with critters, mosquitoes or bears but we tried to do everything right. I did consider not taking bear canisters since we were told that there would be bear boxes along the way, we were so glad we did not go that route as it was not feasible. The canisters to consider are Garcia, Bearvault, and Bearikade. Many suppliers rent lightweight equipment. One that we check out was www.Lowergear.com they are very attentive to your needs and deliver promptly, they also have a store out of Tempe, Az.
There are nine passes you cross,
it’s like doing the Grand Canyon each day if not twice a day but the views are breathtaking and worth every step. Some of the passes were very windy and cold
we never really knew what the weather was going to be but we lucked out as there was only one day that was a real rainy, the rest was perfect weather
( except guitar Lake which I will talk about later) there were 2 fires going on in the area, one being the Rim Fire which was a bit nerve-racking since we didn’t have a lot of details.
We did get up very early so we could either get over the pass early enough or stop early in the day to make a nice campsite we had no reason to do 20 mile days the most we did was 17 miles and the least 7 miles.
Some of my favorite places were Seldon Pass, Sallie Keys, Rae lakes, Upper Vidette Meadows, Forester Pass, and the best of all Mount Whitney!
We did take a satellite phone with us due to the fact that we had 2 elderly parents that we wanted to make sure we can get notified if any issues, there are only a couple phone cell site along this route of 200 miles that you can make a call. We went with a Scottsdale company called PHI satellite phone, number is 877 977 6303.
( not cheap)
Before summiting Mount Whitney we stayed at Guitar Lake, it really did look like a guitar
there was three small storms that rolled through while we were there between wind, rumbling threating clouds, rain and some small hail.
There is no place to potty, all granite. You will receive wag bag (yep also known as a potty bag or a bag with kinda like clumping cat liter) at the ranger station when you pass through – they are a must! We started out at 5:30 a.m. the next morning with our trail family Gordon & Annie. You get to a Y before you either going up to Mount Whitney or head down to Whitney Portal,
we reach the Y approximately 8:00am. The side trip to Mount Whitney is only 1 1/2 miles,
it is a bit sketchy and a little rock scrambling but it is well worth it if you are not afraid of heights, it was time to put on a puff jacket at 14,505 ft. The summit was more beautiful and dramatic than ever expected, you have 360 degree views.
It was dedicated 9-5-1905 83 years ago the day we were there, and the hut was built-in 1909 which has a book that you can sign in. As I looked around and took deep breaths of all we experienced in 3 weeks, once again I said to myself – It’s not the destination it was the journey that got me there that made the trip! There is nothing like being on a hikers high!
Knife Edge On Mt. Whitney Trail
Unfortunately, it is near this area that the trail narrows to a knife edge in a few places making it especially dangerous. People have been blown off the trail. Some have probably fallen from sheer fatigue or died from hypothermia.
This trail claims at least one person ea year. September 1, 2013, the body of Yukio Kato, a 60-year old man from Torrance, CA, fell approximately 200 feet over a cliff
from the Mount Whitney Trail to his death. The incident happened approximately 1 mile from Mount Whitney at 13,500 feet.
There is one short section of guard posts with cables along the 99 switchbacks. There is a problem with ice buildup on this section and a very steep drop off along the fence.
Trails Camp you can get your water and continuing to hike out to Whitney Portal, which is where Lenny had shuttled our jeep to. Almost on all long trips its hard for me to leave the wilderness, it’s like a tug of war. We decided to spend one more night at a beautiful Post Camp with a waterfalls, pine tree’s, willows and reminisce the whole trip before we exited out. Guitar lake the wind was so strong that we ended up having one pole break so our last night out was made with duct tape to hold the tent together. Once you reach the parking lot at Whitney Portal you get to dump your wag bags, oh Yea! Plus a cafe that had the best pancake that overlapped 2-10 inch plates that feed 5 of us!
People we met along the way that became our trail family ,Gordon and Annie DuBois that was father and daughter, DR Connie Ayers, Ron his wife had to exit due to altitude sickness his friend Bob of 74 yr that joined him for the rest of the trail. I was so proud of him as he kept saying I can’t wait to tell my family & friends they will never believe I did this! John & Donann that had to exit out at Bishop do to knee issues. Polite Pete a guide for High Sierra from Prescott, Az, & Don “still looking”& John Ladd. Five of us had a great celebration at the Totem Cafe in Lone Pine,
a movie mega area. The Long Long Trailer was filmed on the road we just came down, & many more in the town of Lone Pine with the background of Mt Whitney in the background.
Numbers that may be helpful – permits 209 372 0740 or late arrival you need to notify the National Park services 209 372 0308 to hold your permit.
Tuolumne Meadows lodge elevation 8,600 phone number 801 559 4892 dinner reservations are required 209 372 8413, www.yosmitepark.com
At Tuolumne Meadows lodge there are tent cabins out of canvas with beds and a small stove they will furnish a wool blanket ,soap and a towel you will have a community shower / bathroom nearby.
Vermillion Valley Resort backpacker friendly which can also be used as a supply point. They have tent cabins, Motel, laundry, showers in a store that has a good selection to choose from www.edison.com (we never stayed or visited this location)
www.MuirTrailRanch.com supply location with cabins & Hot Springs.
Bus Yarts www.yarts.com 877 989 2787
High sierra shuttle – www.estransit.com 800 9221930
Red Meadows a supply location with campgrounds, Motel , cabins Mule Shoe cafe 800 292 7758
Packers Pine Creek, www.pinecreekps@AOL.Com
Hope you enjoy the pictures!