September 2011 Trail Photos and Trip Report
- Its been a year since our trip and I'm finally getting around to posting photos and a trip report! More photos should follow.
My wife and I hiked north from Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows. We started on 9/14, 2011 around 8am and finished up around 2:30pm on 9/17. I thought I'd give an account of what we saw, what worked for us and what did not.
Although we were not doing the entire trail, we did train somewhat with our packs but knew we'd face a challenge since we live at sea level near Lake Michigan. We wished we had the time to go further and we were also glad we picked September as the time to go!
We camped at Garnet Lake, just north of Island Pass and finally at the Lyell Forks area. Although we had been advised of easier going on the River Trail, we chose to pick up the JMT at Shadow Lake so that we could pass Garnet, Ruby and Emerald lakes. This was indeed a difficult climb for us but I think the views made up for it.
On our second day we only hiked around 5 miles, opting instead to take our time leaving Garnet and also spending several hours admiring the views at Thousand Island Lake.
There was a storm that blew through while we descended Island Pass so we setup camp early that day. This was a good test for our TarpTent as it did not leak on us in the rain and hail storm. We also brought a tyvek ground cloth which may have been unnecessary but did seem to help keep us warm.
What worked? Well for footwear I wore light NB trail runners with super feet. I had no foot problems. My wife wore light hiking boots but did develop a blister on the last day. In all we only crossed about 20 yards of snow on Donohue Pass and had a very easy time with all stream crossings. I have extreme admiration for those attempting the trail early this year (2011) and facing miles and miles of snow and especially on the climbs.
I used a Gossamer Gear G4 that wasn't that comfortable for me as the miles went by but it was wonderful at swallowing the gear and bear can. My wife used a ULA Conduit which I was jealous of most of the trip. Despite the weight, I also brought along a dSLR and small tripod. It was worth the weight to me. I picked up some tips on packing a DSLR for backpacking after reading G. Dan Mitchell's blog.
Things that did not work: we did not estimate well at all on how much food we'd need. We brought far too much! The altitude contributed to neither of us having much of an appetite until the fourth day. We also had plans of cooking a hot lunch each day but this did not happen. What I learned was to bring more snack foods. We did bring apples and cheese that were wonderful instead of choking down bars. On our next trip we'll definitely pack more fresh fruits and vegetables despite the weight.
Things that helped: this forum of course and also Ed Rodriguez's videos. I watched the entire set of Ed's videos from his 2011 trip and it helped me to think about the trail and what I wanted to get out of the hike. It was helpful to me to view Ed's day-by-day reflections and observations about the trail. Thanks Ed!
Our next step is to plan and complete the entire trail and someday the PCT! Thanks everyone.