Can anyone do the JMT?
- When I was on the JMT (7/13-7/30), I had a curious observation. There were all sorts of people on the JMT. This wasn't just a trail for young people, this wasn't just a trail for highly trained or very fit people, this wasn't just a trail for very experienced backpackers. No, there were all sorts of people on the JMT. A few observations:
There were people of all ages. I hiked on/off for several days with a father son where the son looked to be about 14-16. I regularly saw a group of four college kids. I also saw many people who looked like they were in their 40s and 50s and several gentlemen who looked quite a bit older than that (e.g. perhaps in their 60s). I happen to be 55 myself.
There were a couple women (probably in their mid-40s), not in good shape at all and doing the JMT together for the fourth time. Their plan was for 25 days (8-9 miles/day) and they were a day or two ahead of that plan when I talked to them. They looked like they loved it.
There were a surprising number of solo female hikers of all ages. Some were super fit and zooming past many other groups. Some were just regular, off the street adventurers taking their time. There were plenty of solo male hikers too - I was surprised how many people did this solo (I did the 2nd half solo - but only because the rest of my group left the trail at MTR - not planned that way).
I saw one ultra-marathon runner between VVR and Red's Meadow (going NOBO). She had almost no equipment and wasn't interested in talking to us so she was either running just a single segment or was supported at her stopping points. We saw several runners going from Tuolumne down to the Valley (22 mile downhill run).
So ... does this mean anyone can do the JMT? Without lots of prior experience and without being particularly fit?
I actually think the answer is probably "yes they can". While the JMT is the most physically demanding thing I've ever done, if you prepare appropriately, plan for an appropriate pace for your strength and stamina, can avoid injury and just have enough determination to keep working toward your goal, this trail can be done by a wide variety of people if planned appropriately and if you stay healthy.
Notice, I didn't say that anyone can just pick up a backpack and go and be successful. And, you will seriously increase your odds of being successful if you do train and get yourself in shape. But, this trip takes some serious planning. Plenty of people quit/bail before the end. You need the right equipment (I had 6 days of rain that really tested both my determination and my equipment), the right food (I'm quite convinced that one major reason people leave the trail is that they aren't getting appropriate food so they feel terrible), the ability to take care of things (like your feet, your hygiene, your water, your clothes), smarts and preparation to know what to do when something goes wrong, etc...
I regularly saw a father/son from Indiana (son looked like late 20's) who were doing the trail at the same pace I was (18 days), but they had planned for fewer days than that. As a consequence, they didn't have a big enough bear container coming out of MTR to hold enough food for the last segment and they had plane flights home that were too soon. They had tried to keep to the planned pace, but just couldn't do it. As a consequence, they left the trail at Kearsarge Pass and missed the last 2-3 days. They were capable of finishing the JMT, but their planning didn't align with their abilities.
I also know several people who bailed from the JMT at MTR. Of the people I know, it's not because they couldn't continue - it's because they didn't want to continue. The day-to-day enjoyment of the terrain and the amazing scenery and the sense of accomplishment each day brings simply did not exceed the challenge and toil of each day for them. Obviously, there are people who stop because of injury or sickness too.
So ... my conclusion - if you plan appropriately and can stay healthy (including handling the altitude) and have the drive to stick with it, it's somewhat surprising (to me) how many people can do the JMT.
- I also live in Houston and have been section hiking the JMT for the last two years and do my last section leaving Wednesday. I do 90 floors of stairs per day to get in shape for the hills. It will help if you have your pack on when you do the stairs to work on your legs. I also ride a bike 5 to 6 hours a week for cardio. The stairs will make a big difference on the hills. Good luck!
From: rgbpc2013 <rgbpc2013@...>
Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 3:58 PM
Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: Can anyone do the JMT?
Not joking. Galleria parking garage twice a week--132 steps basement to top floor, 10 trips up & down. Also hike 5 miles 2 times a week, personal trainer at YMCA 2 times per week, 10 mile hike every couple of weeks. Been doing this for several months now (but for personal trainer--did weight training on my own until last month). Will start walking with loaded backpack this week. I've got 2 months & it'll have to do. I think it will.
I know what you mean about needing to lose more weight. I'm down to 205 & need to be at 185 or 190, like you. We'll get there.
Thanks for the suggestion of the HST, but I'm locked into the GC hike.
FYI, it's down from N rim to Cottonwood campground day 1, hike to Bright Angel campground day 2, begin ascent of S rim day 3, but camp at Indian Garden then complete ascent day 4.
Thank you again.
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, Carolsteveyoung <carolsteveyoung@...> wrote:
> Unless you are joking about the parking garage stairs any hike down into the canyon and back sounds dubious.
> Why not consider High Sierra Trail which is approx 70 miles and is similar territory to the JMT? That might be Better lead up to a JMT expedition. Kudos on getting into shape!
> I'm a decent hiker, but over 200 lb at age 58. I'm fit but would be more so if I were below 190. It's getting harder and harder to convince myself that it's all muscle.
> Steve Young
> Geneva IL
> On Aug 11, 2013, at 8:32 AM, "rgbpc2013" <rgbpc2013@...> wrote:
> > My GC hike will be with a guide. Already locked in. 4 days from north rim to south. I wanted to go with a guide, because they're trained in first aid. I'm going with my brother-in-law and another friend. all of us over 60, and it just seemed like the smart thing to do.
> > --- In email@example.com, tombuchta <no_reply@> wrote:
> > >
> > > I'm your age (even from Houston originally) and have hiked both the JMT and many trails in the GC. The rim to rim could be much tougher on legs and feet than anything on the JMT IMOP unless you take several days to do it. I recently completed a 7 day trip that involved going down to the river via the Tanner trail in the GC and just about ruined my feet in shoes that served me well on the JMT in 2012.
> > >
> > > I would even suggest a GC trip that didnt involve going all the way down to the river. Something like a loop down the BA trail to Indian Garden, camp; then over to Monument Ck, camp; then to Hermit or Boucher ck, camp, and then up and out to Hermits rest. There is water at all the camps and elevation gain/loss is not quite so great.
> > >
> > > In any case both places are spectacular.
> > >
> > >
> > > --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "rgbpc2013" <rgbpc2013@> wrote:
> > > >
> > > > I'm new to the group and am very interested in this discussion. I'm 63 and got interested in hiking the JMT when a friend of mine asked if anyone wanted to do it. I said yes, got serious about it and have lost 30+ lbs & am turning into an exercise maniac, well sort of. I live in HOuston, so there is no elevation change to speak of. I'm shooting for 2015 for the hike. I'm testing myself on a rim-to-rim of the Grand Canyon in October and have started going up parking garage stairs.
> > >