Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: Trip report: solo SOBO JMT + WEBO HST

Expand Messages
  • Robert
    Great trip report Chris! I like your prospectives of it at the end as well. Welcome aboard the hiking lighter clan! I agree, even if you don t want to lighten
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 12, 2013
    • 0 Attachment
      Great trip report Chris! I like your prospectives of it at the end as well. Welcome aboard the hiking lighter clan! I agree, even if you don't want to lighten up to do more miles, it is just easier on the body.

      Did you mean to say Hamilton Lake in your section of the HST? I absolutely loved that section last year as well.

      Did you use a tarp? If so, which one did you go with?

      Again, great trip report...thanks!

      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chris Hauser <cehauser1@...> wrote:
      >
      > Hello everyone:
      > Since November, I had been planning a 300-mile solo trip on the John Muir Trail southbound and the High Sierra Trail westbound.  I’ve learned so much from this Yahoo Group, that I wanted to post this trip report as a way to pay it forward.
      > SCHEDULE:
      > Saturday, August 16 through Tuesday, September 3.
      > Day 1:  I hiked few hours from Happy Isles, up Mist Trail a half mile with my wife and two small children.  Said goodbye, then continued up Mist Trail to Little Yosemite Valley backpacker campground.  My permit required first night at LYV… so I had lots of time to kill.  I swam/bathed in river, then hiked 2 miles up the valley into LYV (toward Merced Lake).  The scenery becomes really nice after about 2 miles, it really looks like a small version of Yosemite Valley, wish I had hiked further up the canyon.
      > Day 2:  I hiked LYV to Tuolumne Meadows, via Clouds Rest/Sunrise Lakes.  I didn’t hike up Half Dome, but I did hike over Clouds Rest (amazing views!), then up to Sunrise Lakes, took a swim/bath in first lake, then back to the JMT at the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.  Afternoon lightning storm at Long Meadow, so I sat under trees and ate early dinner, then hiked over Cathedral Pass, and down to backpacker camp at the Tuolumne Meadows around dusk.  I had been dreaming of a juicy cheeseburger, but the TM grill closed at 6PM, store still open until 8PM, so I loaded up on ice cream and Gatoraide.  Incredible sunset at TM… didn’t know it at the time, but the incredible sunset was probably caused by smoke from the first few days of the Rim Fire.
      > Day 3:  I bought a hot breakfast at TM grill, then ice cream from the store, and thus got a late start leaving Tuolumne Meadows 10AM.  Got to the base of Donohue Pass just as afternoon lightning storm was forming, so had early dinner and waited several hours for storm to pass.  Ate dinner, then napped in sleeping bag/bivy sack in light rain, got wet and cold.  After lightning passed, I crossed Donohue Pass in early evening, then crossed Island Pass in the full moon, then down to Thousand Island Lake.  I did not have a tent on this trip, so I wanted to hike until the rain stopped, which it did around 11:30PM, when I stopped and camped near Thousand Island Lake.  All gear and clothes soaking wet.  Wearing wet clothes in wet sleeping bag first few hours, until I started shivering uncontrollably, so I took off all my wet clothes, then drank a cup of hot water, and made a very hot water bottle to cuddle with, and then I slept like a baby until dawn.
      > Day 4:  I dried out clothes on dark rocks, then hiked from Thousand Island Lake, down JMT into Devil’s Postpile.  Hail and rain in mid-afternoon.  Early dinner at Red’s Meadow restaurant, then hiked out to look at Rainbow Falls at dusk.  Left JMT/PCT, and hiked south on trail to Fish Creek.  Hiked in the moonlight until about 11PM, camped about a mile before the Island Crossing bridge over Fish Creek.
      > Day 5:  I hiked down to Island Crossing, up Fish Creek to Iva Bell Hot Spring, intermittent rain all morning.  Soaked and bathed in wonderful clear warm water.  Continued east up Fish Creek, through the beautiful Cascade Valley:  most beautiful river on entire trip, and saw 1 person in 7 miles.  Back to JMT/PCT at top of Cascade Valley, over Silver Pass at sunset, camped at Silver Pass Lake about 9:30PM.
      > Day 6:  I hiked from Silver Pass Lake, down to Mono Creek bridge, over Bear Ridge, and up Bear Valley.  Over Selden Pass at dusk, past Sallie Keyes Lakes at sunset, down to MTR by 10:30PM.  Crossed river, fell in water, lost in woods on south side of river looking for Blaney Meadows Hot Springs.  After moon rose about 11:30PM, I climbed a hill and could see the meadow in the distance, quickly found hot spring, then soaked in beautiful clear hot spring until midnight, then camped nearby.
      > Day 7:  I took a zero day.  Morning, picked up resupply, worked on packing resupply at MTR, ate tons of food, purchased stuff at MTR store, chatted with lots of other backpackers.  Afternoon, sat in hot spring with about 15 other campers and JMT backpackers.  A really fun day.  In the evening, soaked solo in smaller hot spring, bathed/shaved, then camped nearby.
      > Day 8:  I hiked from MTR up Evolution Valley and Evolution Canyon.  Made plans with 2 trail buddies I’d met at MTR… we would meet in the evening at Saphire Lake, have dinner together, wait for moon to come out, then cross Muir Pass in the moonlight.  We did all that as planned, except about 2AM the weather got cold and windy, and one of them wasn’t doing well, so we slept in the Muir Hut until dawn.
      > Day 9:  I hiked from Muir Pass, down LeConte Canyon.  Lots of smoke from small lightning fire just west of JMT.  Afternoon, up Palisade Creek, dinner at Quail Meadows with some trail buddies, then up Golden Staircase, and camped at dusk between Upper and Lower Palisade Lakes.
      > Day 10:  I hiked over Mather Pass, down Upper Basin, up past Lake Marjorie, over Pinchot Pass (saw small herd of bighorn sheep!), then down Woods Creek several miles.  Made camp around dusk about 2 miles upstream of Woods Creek Bridge.
      > Day 11:  I hiked 2 miles down to Woods Creek Bridge, up through Rae Lakes Basin, over Glen Pass, then took JMT upper connector trail over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley.  Hitched ride down to Independence, took last available room at Mt Williamson Motel.  Resupply box delivered to motel room (long story), then nice dinner at restaurant in town.  Cleaned up… took 4 showers that night.  A wonderfully rejuvenating rest stop, at a wonderful motel.  Highly recommended.
      > Day 12:  I felt great this morning.  Got shuttle up to Onion Valley trailhead (long story).  Hiked over Kearsarge Pass, then down lower JMT connector trail, past Bullfrog Lake and other beautiful lakes and ponds, down to JMT/PCT, then up Bubbs Creek to the third bear box at Center Basin Creek crossing.  Made camp there by early evening, short day.  (This first day out from a resupply, and I had more food than would fit in a BV450, so needed to spend first night at a bear box.  Also, I had made plans 3 days earlier to meet up with MTR trail buddies here, so it was nice to have dinner and camp with them.)
      > Day 13:  I hiked over Forester Pass with trail buddies, then solo again down to Tyndall Creek, Bighorn Plateau, Wallace Creek, etc.  Originally planned to camp at Sandy Meadow, but no water, so continued on to campsite near Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station (north of creek).  Ran into couple of other trail buddies from MTR, so I had dinner and camped with them.
      > Day 14:  Left nearly all my camping gear at Crabtree Meadow campsite.  Took small day pack, hiked with 2 trail buddies to top of Mt. Whitney midday, then said goodbye to them (they were exiting at Whitney Portal), then hiked back to Crabtree Meadow.  The top of Mt. Whitney marked the official end of the John Muir Trail portion of my trip, and the official beginning of my High Sierra Trail (HST) portion of my trip.
      > Day 15:  Hiked HST from Crabtree Meadow, back north to Wallace Creek, then down Wallace Creek into Kern Canyon, then south down Kern Canyon to Kern Hot Spring.  Soaked in warm water, bathed and shaved.  Felt great to be clean.
      > Day 16:  Hiked HST from Kern Hot Spring, up switchbacks through actively smoldering forest fire area, up to Chagoopa Plateau, past Moraine Lake, down into Big Arroyo, over Kaweah Gap, past the amazing Precipice Lake, and then down the amazing trail to Upper Harrison Lake.  Surprisingly, the 5 miles from Kaweah Gap down past Precipice Lake and down to Upper Harrison Lake held the most amazing mountain scenery of the entire trip!  Also, at Harrison Lake, saw first bear of the entire trip… eating berries and ignoring the 8-10 campers at the lake… so wonderful that our Sierra black bears are wild again…  God bless bear canisters!
      > Day 17:  Hiked HST from Upper Harrison Lake, west past Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp, then continued west to the Crescent Meadow Trailhead, about 2PM.  Lots of people on this last part of the trail… lots of nice people, but the camaraderie of the JMT is missing.  Took free shuttle to Giant Forest Museum, then took Sequoia Shuttle down to Visalia.  Cheeseburger for dinner.  Walked to car rental places to rent car to drive home, but all were closed (it was Labor Day!).  Checked into a hotel in downtown Visalia.  Took 4 showers.
      > Day 18:  Walked to car rental place downtown Visalia.  Rented car one-way.  Drove home to Monterey.
      > THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS:
      > This trip was a major departure from ALL the backpacking I’ve done over the past 28 years.  Here are some things I learned:
      > 1.       I went much lighter than I had ever done before.  I’m used to a 35-45 pound pack, but this year I carried a 15 pound base weight, with 18-22 pound total pack weight.  I’m now a believer in lightweight backpacking… carrying a light backpack made the trip MUCH more enjoyable.  I may never be a super ultralight gear head, but having a 20 pound pack is miraculous.  Made the trip so much better.
      > 2.       I didn’t carry a tent.  I’ve camped this way for a long time, since I was 13 or so, and I am very comfortable with it.  My philosophy is that tents are for 3 things:  bugs, rain, and privacy.  On many trips, a tent might be necessary, but in the Sierras in late August during a dry year, I thought a tent wasn’t worth the weight.  It worked great.  Only that one night did I wish I had more weather protection, but I learned to deal with that fine.
      > 3.       I used trekking poles.  A year ago, I would have told you that poles were only for people with bad knees, etc.  Now, I swear by them.  They easily add 10-15% efficiency, especially going up hills, they add a lot of stability on rough ground, and they save your knees going down hills.  Also, some mornings, I was so sore, I needed the poles to stand up… until the Advil kicked in.  Also, I’m a believer in using the wrist straps correctly, as this prevents repetitive motion.  (Also, I have a badly injured right wrist from a motorcycle accident, so proper strap use is essential for me.)
      > 4.       I didn’t carry water.  Actually, I needed to carry water 2 times:  2 quarts from LYV up to Clouds Rest, and 1 quart from Guitar Lake up to Mt. Whitney.  For water treatment, I used a “LifeStraw”, which is a cylindrical filter/straw that you use to suck untreated water out of a water bottle.  It purifies the water as you suck it up.  The LifeStraw really changes the way I think about water, and makes treated water much less precious.  Before, I would spend so much time and effort treating/pumping water, that I was not willing to pour it out.  Consequently, I used to keep the precious treated water, ration it, carry it long distances, often crossing multiple water sources while still carrying that precious bottle of warm stale filtered water.  After thinking about it, it really didn’t make sense to me, so on this trip I had planned, with few exceptions, to only drink at water sources.  If thirsty, I would stop at a stream,
      > take a short break, drink as much water as I wanted, eat a snack, and then move on.
      > 5.       I didn’t use toilet paper (sorry if this is Too Much Information).  I was not willing to carry used toilet paper, so I originally planned to burn the toilet paper in tiny campfires, on a daily basis.  Then, with this summer’s fire bans, I turned to plan B, which I had learned on this Yahoo Group:  after going poo, use a water bottle, and wash yourself with your fingers.  (Squatting down, left hand cupped under butt, right hand pours small amounts of water into cupped hand, washing butt hole repeatedly.)  One quart bottle is enough to wash butt, and one quart bottle (with plenty of soap) is enough to wash hands.  If you are not to squeamish about touching poo, or touching your own butt hole, it works really well.  Make sure you don’t contaminate the bottles, rinse them really well before using them for drinking water again, and wash and sanitize your hands right away.  Works great.  Might sound gross, but probably more
      > sanitary than carrying dirty toilet paper, and you get a much cleaner end result.
      > 6.       I walked an average of 20 miles per day (15 to 25 miles per day).  I don’t consider myself an athlete, so this was a great personal accomplishment, though early in the trip it meant I was hiking until the middle of the night.  I have no regrets about doing this, but I think in the future, I would hike 15 miles per day, as this seemed like pure luxury on the 2 or 3 days that I did it.  For me, 25 miles per day was not enjoyable.
      > 7.       I kept my feet clean and dry, and I did not ignore hot spots.  One thing I learned on this Yahoo Group was the importance of keeping my feet dry and clean.  At least 2 or 3 times per day, while at rest breaks, I would take off my shoes and socks, and let everything dry out.  I had 2 pairs of hiking socks, and I was constantly washing them and I always had a spare pair hanging on the outside of my pack drying in the sun.  In all, I got one blister on my right heel (which I got from ignoring a hot spot while I was in a hurry one day), but this blister was completely healed by the middle of the trip.  For hot spots, I used 3M “Micropore” medical tape, which worked really well (it stuck to the skin well over multiple days, yet the skin could breathe).  I was completely tape free by the last few days of the trip.
      > 8.       I was really happy with the detours I took:  Clouds Rest was incredible, Iva Bell Hot Springs was a wonderful luxury, and the Onion Valley resupply was a relatively easy trail and was necessary to get food for the last 6 days of the trip (I highly recommend a night at the Mt. Williamson Motel).  Originally, the 3 days on the High Sierra Trail was just a convenient strategy to exit on the west side of the Sierras, but in the end it was among my favorite portions of the entire trip.
      > 9.    I hiked solo about 99% of the trip.  For someone who is typically quite social, it was interesting hiking solo for so long.  Really, it was quite nice, I was on my own schedule and could do whatever I wanted.  I was always chatting with people along the way, and met some really nice folks, but I was always free to move on at my own pace and my own timing.  Really quite nice, actually.
      >  
      > Thanks to everyone for the great info and advice they’ve shared on the JMT Yahoo Group.  I hope this trip report helps folks plan their upcoming trips!
      >  
      > Chris Hauser.
      >
    • forgetwho
      That s a wonderful report, and I m dripping with envy at your abilities and guts. Thanks. Gail --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com,
      Message 2 of 5 , Sep 12, 2013
      • 0 Attachment

        That's a wonderful report, and I'm dripping with envy at your abilities and guts.  Thanks.


        Gail



        --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

        Hello everyone:
        Since November, I had been planning a 300-mile solo trip on the John Muir Trail southbound and the High Sierra Trail westbound.  I’ve learned so much from this Yahoo Group, that I wanted to post this trip report as a way to pay it forward.
        SCHEDULE:
        Saturday, August 16 through Tuesday, September 3.
        Day 1:  I hiked few hours from Happy Isles, up Mist Trail a half mile with my wife and two small children.  Said goodbye, then continued up Mist Trail to Little Yosemite Valley backpacker campground.  My permit required first night at LYV… so I had lots of time to kill.  I swam/bathed in river, then hiked 2 miles up the valley into LYV (toward Merced Lake).  The scenery becomes really nice after about 2 miles, it really looks like a small version of Yosemite Valley, wish I had hiked further up the canyon.
        Day 2:  I hiked LYV to Tuolumne Meadows, via Clouds Rest/Sunrise Lakes.  I didn’t hike up Half Dome, but I did hike over Clouds Rest (amazing views!), then up to Sunrise Lakes, took a swim/bath in first lake, then back to the JMT at the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.  Afternoon lightning storm at Long Meadow, so I sat under trees and ate early dinner, then hiked over Cathedral Pass, and down to backpacker camp at the Tuolumne Meadows around dusk.  I had been dreaming of a juicy cheeseburger, but the TM grill closed at 6PM, store still open until 8PM, so I loaded up on ice cream and Gatoraide.  Incredible sunset at TM… didn’t know it at the time, but the incredible sunset was probably caused by smoke from the first few days of the Rim Fire.
        Day 3:  I bought a hot breakfast at TM grill, then ice cream from the store, and thus got a late start leaving Tuolumne Meadows 10AM.  Got to the base of Donohue Pass just as afternoon lightning storm was forming, so had early dinner and waited several hours for storm to pass.  Ate dinner, then napped in sleeping bag/bivy sack in light rain, got wet and cold.  After lightning passed, I crossed Donohue Pass in early evening, then crossed Island Pass in the full moon, then down to Thousand Island Lake.  I did not have a tent on this trip, so I wanted to hike until the rain stopped, which it did around 11:30PM, when I stopped and camped near Thousand Island Lake.  All gear and clothes soaking wet.  Wearing wet clothes in wet sleeping bag first few hours, until I started shivering uncontrollably, so I took off all my wet clothes, then drank a cup of hot water, and made a very hot water bottle to cuddle with, and then I slept like a baby until dawn.
        Day 4:  I dried out clothes on dark rocks, then hiked from Thousand Island Lake, down JMT into Devil’s Postpile.  Hail and rain in mid-afternoon.  Early dinner at Red’s Meadow restaurant, then hiked out to look at Rainbow Falls at dusk.  Left JMT/PCT, and hiked south on trail to Fish Creek.  Hiked in the moonlight until about 11PM, camped about a mile before the Island Crossing bridge over Fish Creek.
        Day 5:  I hiked down to Island Crossing, up Fish Creek to Iva Bell Hot Spring, intermittent rain all morning.  Soaked and bathed in wonderful clear warm water.  Continued east up Fish Creek, through the beautiful Cascade Valley:  most beautiful river on entire trip, and saw 1 person in 7 miles.  Back to JMT/PCT at top of Cascade Valley, over Silver Pass at sunset, camped at Silver Pass Lake about 9:30PM.
        Day 6:  I hiked from Silver Pass Lake, down to Mono Creek bridge, over Bear Ridge, and up Bear Valley.  Over Selden Pass at dusk, past Sallie Keyes Lakes at sunset, down to MTR by 10:30PM.  Crossed river, fell in water, lost in woods on south side of river looking for Blaney Meadows Hot Springs.  After moon rose about 11:30PM, I climbed a hill and could see the meadow in the distance, quickly found hot spring, then soaked in beautiful clear hot spring until midnight, then camped nearby.
        Day 7:  I took a zero day.  Morning, picked up resupply, worked on packing resupply at MTR, ate tons of food, purchased stuff at MTR store, chatted with lots of other backpackers.  Afternoon, sat in hot spring with about 15 other campers and JMT backpackers.  A really fun day.  In the evening, soaked solo in smaller hot spring, bathed/shaved, then camped nearby.
        Day 8:  I hiked from MTR up Evolution Valley and Evolution Canyon.  Made plans with 2 trail buddies I’d met at MTR… we would meet in the evening at Saphire Lake, have dinner together, wait for moon to come out, then cross Muir Pass in the moonlight.  We did all that as planned, except about 2AM the weather got cold and windy, and one of them wasn’t doing well, so we slept in the Muir Hut until dawn.
        Day 9:  I hiked from Muir Pass, down LeConte Canyon.  Lots of smoke from small lightning fire just west of JMT.  Afternoon, up Palisade Creek, dinner at Quail Meadows with some trail buddies, then up Golden Staircase, and camped at dusk between Upper and Lower Palisade Lakes.
        Day 10:  I hiked over Mather Pass, down Upper Basin, up past Lake Marjorie, over Pinchot Pass (saw small herd of bighorn sheep!), then down Woods Creek several miles.  Made camp around dusk about 2 miles upstream of Woods Creek Bridge.
        Day 11:  I hiked 2 miles down to Woods Creek Bridge, up through Rae Lakes Basin, over Glen Pass, then took JMT upper connector trail over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley.  Hitched ride down to Independence, took last available room at Mt Williamson Motel.  Resupply box delivered to motel room (long story), then nice dinner at restaurant in town.  Cleaned up… took 4 showers that night.  A wonderfully rejuvenating rest stop, at a wonderful motel.  Highly recommended.
        Day 12:  I felt great this morning.  Got shuttle up to Onion Valley trailhead (long story).  Hiked over Kearsarge Pass, then down lower JMT connector trail, past Bullfrog Lake and other beautiful lakes and ponds, down to JMT/PCT, then up Bubbs Creek to the third bear box at Center Basin Creek crossing.  Made camp there by early evening, short day.  (This first day out from a resupply, and I had more food than would fit in a BV450, so needed to spend first night at a bear box.  Also, I had made plans 3 days earlier to meet up with MTR trail buddies here, so it was nice to have dinner and camp with them.)
        Day 13:  I hiked over Forester Pass with trail buddies, then solo again down to Tyndall Creek, Bighorn Plateau, Wallace Creek, etc.  Originally planned to camp at Sandy Meadow, but no water, so continued on to campsite near Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station (north of creek).  Ran into couple of other trail buddies from MTR, so I had dinner and camped with them.
        Day 14:  Left nearly all my camping gear at Crabtree Meadow campsite.  Took small day pack, hiked with 2 trail buddies to top of Mt. Whitney midday, then said goodbye to them (they were exiting at Whitney Portal), then hiked back to Crabtree Meadow.  The top of Mt. Whitney marked the official end of the John Muir Trail portion of my trip, and the official beginning of my High Sierra Trail (HST) portion of my trip.
        Day 15:  Hiked HST from Crabtree Meadow, back north to Wallace Creek, then down Wallace Creek into Kern Canyon, then south down Kern Canyon to Kern Hot Spring.  Soaked in warm water, bathed and shaved.  Felt great to be clean.
        Day 16:  Hiked HST from Kern Hot Spring, up switchbacks through actively smoldering forest fire area, up to Chagoopa Plateau, past Moraine Lake, down into Big Arroyo, over Kaweah Gap, past the amazing Precipice Lake, and then down the amazing trail to Upper Harrison Lake.  Surprisingly, the 5 miles from Kaweah Gap down past Precipice Lake and down to Upper Harrison Lake held the most amazing mountain scenery of the entire trip!  Also, at Harrison Lake, saw first bear of the entire trip… eating berries and ignoring the 8-10 campers at the lake… so wonderful that our Sierra black bears are wild again…  God bless bear canisters!
        Day 17:  Hiked HST from Upper Harrison Lake, west past Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp, then continued west to the Crescent Meadow Trailhead, about 2PM.  Lots of people on this last part of the trail… lots of nice people, but the camaraderie of the JMT is missing.  Took free shuttle to Giant Forest Museum, then took Sequoia Shuttle down to Visalia.  Cheeseburger for dinner.  Walked to car rental places to rent car to drive home, but all were closed (it was Labor Day!).  Checked into a hotel in downtown Visalia.  Took 4 showers.
        Day 18:  Walked to car rental place downtown Visalia.  Rented car one-way.  Drove home to Monterey.
        THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS:
        This trip was a major departure from ALL the backpacking I’ve done over the past 28 years.  Here are some things I learned:
        1.       I went much lighter than I had ever done before.  I’m used to a 35-45 pound pack, but this year I carried a 15 pound base weight, with 18-22 pound total pack weight.  I’m now a believer in lightweight backpacking… carrying a light backpack made the trip MUCH more enjoyable.  I may never be a super ultralight gear head, but having a 20 pound pack is miraculous.  Made the trip so much better.
        2.       I didn’t carry a tent.  I’ve camped this way for a long time, since I was 13 or so, and I am very comfortable with it.  My philosophy is that tents are for 3 things:  bugs, rain, and privacy.  On many trips, a tent might be necessary, but in the Sierras in late August during a dry year, I thought a tent wasn’t worth the weight.  It worked great.  Only that one night did I wish I had more weather protection, but I learned to deal with that fine.
        3.       I used trekking poles.  A year ago, I would have told you that poles were only for people with bad knees, etc.  Now, I swear by them.  They easily add 10-15% efficiency, especially going up hills, they add a lot of stability on rough ground, and they save your knees going down hills.  Also, some mornings, I was so sore, I needed the poles to stand up… until the Advil kicked in.  Also, I’m a believer in using the wrist straps correctly, as this prevents repetitive motion.  (Also, I have a badly injured right wrist from a motorcycle accident, so proper strap use is essential for me.)
        4.       I didn’t carry water.  Actually, I needed to carry water 2 times:  2 quarts from LYV up to Clouds Rest, and 1 quart from Guitar Lake up to Mt. Whitney.  For water treatment, I used a “LifeStraw”, which is a cylindrical filter/straw that you use to suck untreated water out of a water bottle.  It purifies the water as you suck it up.  The LifeStraw really changes the way I think about water, and makes treated water much less precious.  Before, I would spend so much time and effort treating/pumping water, that I was not willing to pour it out.  Consequently, I used to keep the precious treated water, ration it, carry it long distances, often crossing multiple water sources while still carrying that precious bottle of warm stale filtered water.  After thinking about it, it really didn’t make sense to me, so on this trip I had planned, with few exceptions, to only drink at water sources.  If thirsty, I would stop at a stream, take a short break, drink as much water as I wanted, eat a snack, and then move on.
        5.       I didn’t use toilet paper (sorry if this is Too Much Information).  I was not willing to carry used toilet paper, so I originally planned to burn the toilet paper in tiny campfires, on a daily basis.  Then, with this summer’s fire bans, I turned to plan B, which I had learned on this Yahoo Group:  after going poo, use a water bottle, and wash yourself with your fingers.  (Squatting down, left hand cupped under butt, right hand pours small amounts of water into cupped hand, washing butt hole repeatedly.)  One quart bottle is enough to wash butt, and one quart bottle (with plenty of soap) is enough to wash hands.  If you are not to squeamish about touching poo, or touching your own butt hole, it works really well.  Make sure you don’t contaminate the bottles, rinse them really well before using them for drinking water again, and wash and sanitize your hands right away.  Works great.  Might sound gross, but probably more sanitary than carrying dirty toilet paper, and you get a much cleaner end result.
        6.       I walked an average of 20 miles per day (15 to 25 miles per day).  I don’t consider myself an athlete, so this was a great personal accomplishment, though early in the trip it meant I was hiking until the middle of the night.  I have no regrets about doing this, but I think in the future, I would hike 15 miles per day, as this seemed like pure luxury on the 2 or 3 days that I did it.  For me, 25 miles per day was not enjoyable.
        7.       I kept my feet clean and dry, and I did not ignore hot spots.  One thing I learned on this Yahoo Group was the importance of keeping my feet dry and clean.  At least 2 or 3 times per day, while at rest breaks, I would take off my shoes and socks, and let everything dry out.  I had 2 pairs of hiking socks, and I was constantly washing them and I always had a spare pair hanging on the outside of my pack drying in the sun.  In all, I got one blister on my right heel (which I got from ignoring a hot spot while I was in a hurry one day), but this blister was completely healed by the middle of the trip.  For hot spots, I used 3M “Micropore” medical tape, which worked really well (it stuck to the skin well over multiple days, yet the skin could breathe).  I was completely tape free by the last few days of the trip.
        8.       I was really happy with the detours I took:  Clouds Rest was incredible, Iva Bell Hot Springs was a wonderful luxury, and the Onion Valley resupply was a relatively easy trail and was necessary to get food for the last 6 days of the trip (I highly recommend a night at the Mt. Williamson Motel).  Originally, the 3 days on the High Sierra Trail was just a convenient strategy to exit on the west side of the Sierras, but in the end it was among my favorite portions of the entire trip.
        9.    I hiked solo about 99% of the trip.  For someone who is typically quite social, it was interesting hiking solo for so long.  Really, it was quite nice, I was on my own schedule and could do whatever I wanted.  I was always chatting with people along the way, and met some really nice folks, but I was always free to move on at my own pace and my own timing.  Really quite nice, actually.
         
        Thanks to everyone for the great info and advice they’ve shared on the JMT Yahoo Group.  I hope this trip report helps folks plan their upcoming trips!
         
        Chris Hauser.
      • wildtowner
        ... Hi Chris, My husband and I chatted with you not far from the McClure Ranger Station the day after you left MTR; we were going in the opposite direction,
        Message 3 of 5 , Sep 12, 2013
        • 0 Attachment
          --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chris Hauser <cehauser1@...> wrote:
          >
          > Hello everyone:
          > Since November, I had been planning a 300-mile solo trip on the John Muir Trail southbound and the High Sierra Trail westbound.  I’ve learned so much from this Yahoo Group, that I wanted to post this trip report as a way to pay it forward.
          > SCHEDULE:
          > Saturday, August 16 through Tuesday, September 3.
          > Day 1:  I hiked few hours from Happy Isles, up Mist Trail a half mile with my wife and two small children.  Said goodbye, then continued up Mist Trail to Little Yosemite Valley backpacker campground.  My permit required first night at LYV… so I had lots of time to kill.  I swam/bathed in river, then hiked 2 miles up the valley into LYV (toward Merced Lake).  The scenery becomes really nice after about 2 miles, it really looks like a small version of Yosemite Valley, wish I had hiked further up the canyon.
          > Day 2:  I hiked LYV to Tuolumne Meadows, via Clouds Rest/Sunrise Lakes.  I didn’t hike up Half Dome, but I did hike over Clouds Rest (amazing views!), then up to Sunrise Lakes, took a swim/bath in first lake, then back to the JMT at the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.  Afternoon lightning storm at Long Meadow, so I sat under trees and ate early dinner, then hiked over Cathedral Pass, and down to backpacker camp at the Tuolumne Meadows around dusk.  I had been dreaming of a juicy cheeseburger, but the TM grill closed at 6PM, store still open until 8PM, so I loaded up on ice cream and Gatoraide.  Incredible sunset at TM… didn’t know it at the time, but the incredible sunset was probably caused by smoke from the first few days of the Rim Fire.
          > Day 3:  I bought a hot breakfast at TM grill, then ice cream from the store, and thus got a late start leaving Tuolumne Meadows 10AM.  Got to the base of Donohue Pass just as afternoon lightning storm was forming, so had early dinner and waited several hours for storm to pass.  Ate dinner, then napped in sleeping bag/bivy sack in light rain, got wet and cold.  After lightning passed, I crossed Donohue Pass in early evening, then crossed Island Pass in the full moon, then down to Thousand Island Lake.  I did not have a tent on this trip, so I wanted to hike until the rain stopped, which it did around 11:30PM, when I stopped and camped near Thousand Island Lake.  All gear and clothes soaking wet.  Wearing wet clothes in wet sleeping bag first few hours, until I started shivering uncontrollably, so I took off all my wet clothes, then drank a cup of hot water, and made a very hot water bottle to cuddle with, and then I slept like a baby until dawn.
          > Day 4:  I dried out clothes on dark rocks, then hiked from Thousand Island Lake, down JMT into Devil’s Postpile.  Hail and rain in mid-afternoon.  Early dinner at Red’s Meadow restaurant, then hiked out to look at Rainbow Falls at dusk.  Left JMT/PCT, and hiked south on trail to Fish Creek.  Hiked in the moonlight until about 11PM, camped about a mile before the Island Crossing bridge over Fish Creek.
          > Day 5:  I hiked down to Island Crossing, up Fish Creek to Iva Bell Hot Spring, intermittent rain all morning.  Soaked and bathed in wonderful clear warm water.  Continued east up Fish Creek, through the beautiful Cascade Valley:  most beautiful river on entire trip, and saw 1 person in 7 miles.  Back to JMT/PCT at top of Cascade Valley, over Silver Pass at sunset, camped at Silver Pass Lake about 9:30PM.
          > Day 6:  I hiked from Silver Pass Lake, down to Mono Creek bridge, over Bear Ridge, and up Bear Valley.  Over Selden Pass at dusk, past Sallie Keyes Lakes at sunset, down to MTR by 10:30PM.  Crossed river, fell in water, lost in woods on south side of river looking for Blaney Meadows Hot Springs.  After moon rose about 11:30PM, I climbed a hill and could see the meadow in the distance, quickly found hot spring, then soaked in beautiful clear hot spring until midnight, then camped nearby.
          > Day 7:  I took a zero day.  Morning, picked up resupply, worked on packing resupply at MTR, ate tons of food, purchased stuff at MTR store, chatted with lots of other backpackers.  Afternoon, sat in hot spring with about 15 other campers and JMT backpackers.  A really fun day.  In the evening, soaked solo in smaller hot spring, bathed/shaved, then camped nearby.
          > Day 8:  I hiked from MTR up Evolution Valley and Evolution Canyon.  Made plans with 2 trail buddies I’d met at MTR… we would meet in the evening at Saphire Lake, have dinner together, wait for moon to come out, then cross Muir Pass in the moonlight.  We did all that as planned, except about 2AM the weather got cold and windy, and one of them wasn’t doing well, so we slept in the Muir Hut until dawn.
          > Day 9:  I hiked from Muir Pass, down LeConte Canyon.  Lots of smoke from small lightning fire just west of JMT.  Afternoon, up Palisade Creek, dinner at Quail Meadows with some trail buddies, then up Golden Staircase, and camped at dusk between Upper and Lower Palisade Lakes.
          > Day 10:  I hiked over Mather Pass, down Upper Basin, up past Lake Marjorie, over Pinchot Pass (saw small herd of bighorn sheep!), then down Woods Creek several miles.  Made camp around dusk about 2 miles upstream of Woods Creek Bridge.
          > Day 11:  I hiked 2 miles down to Woods Creek Bridge, up through Rae Lakes Basin, over Glen Pass, then took JMT upper connector trail over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley.  Hitched ride down to Independence, took last available room at Mt Williamson Motel.  Resupply box delivered to motel room (long story), then nice dinner at restaurant in town.  Cleaned up… took 4 showers that night.  A wonderfully rejuvenating rest stop, at a wonderful motel.  Highly recommended.
          > Day 12:  I felt great this morning.  Got shuttle up to Onion Valley trailhead (long story).  Hiked over Kearsarge Pass, then down lower JMT connector trail, past Bullfrog Lake and other beautiful lakes and ponds, down to JMT/PCT, then up Bubbs Creek to the third bear box at Center Basin Creek crossing.  Made camp there by early evening, short day.  (This first day out from a resupply, and I had more food than would fit in a BV450, so needed to spend first night at a bear box.  Also, I had made plans 3 days earlier to meet up with MTR trail buddies here, so it was nice to have dinner and camp with them.)
          > Day 13:  I hiked over Forester Pass with trail buddies, then solo again down to Tyndall Creek, Bighorn Plateau, Wallace Creek, etc.  Originally planned to camp at Sandy Meadow, but no water, so continued on to campsite near Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station (north of creek).  Ran into couple of other trail buddies from MTR, so I had dinner and camped with them.
          > Day 14:  Left nearly all my camping gear at Crabtree Meadow campsite.  Took small day pack, hiked with 2 trail buddies to top of Mt. Whitney midday, then said goodbye to them (they were exiting at Whitney Portal), then hiked back to Crabtree Meadow.  The top of Mt. Whitney marked the official end of the John Muir Trail portion of my trip, and the official beginning of my High Sierra Trail (HST) portion of my trip.
          > Day 15:  Hiked HST from Crabtree Meadow, back north to Wallace Creek, then down Wallace Creek into Kern Canyon, then south down Kern Canyon to Kern Hot Spring.  Soaked in warm water, bathed and shaved.  Felt great to be clean.
          > Day 16:  Hiked HST from Kern Hot Spring, up switchbacks through actively smoldering forest fire area, up to Chagoopa Plateau, past Moraine Lake, down into Big Arroyo, over Kaweah Gap, past the amazing Precipice Lake, and then down the amazing trail to Upper Harrison Lake.  Surprisingly, the 5 miles from Kaweah Gap down past Precipice Lake and down to Upper Harrison Lake held the most amazing mountain scenery of the entire trip!  Also, at Harrison Lake, saw first bear of the entire trip… eating berries and ignoring the 8-10 campers at the lake… so wonderful that our Sierra black bears are wild again…  God bless bear canisters!
          > Day 17:  Hiked HST from Upper Harrison Lake, west past Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp, then continued west to the Crescent Meadow Trailhead, about 2PM.  Lots of people on this last part of the trail… lots of nice people, but the camaraderie of the JMT is missing.  Took free shuttle to Giant Forest Museum, then took Sequoia Shuttle down to Visalia.  Cheeseburger for dinner.  Walked to car rental places to rent car to drive home, but all were closed (it was Labor Day!).  Checked into a hotel in downtown Visalia.  Took 4 showers.
          > Day 18:  Walked to car rental place downtown Visalia.  Rented car one-way.  Drove home to Monterey.
          > THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS:
          > This trip was a major departure from ALL the backpacking I’ve done over the past 28 years.  Here are some things I learned:
          > 1.       I went much lighter than I had ever done before.  I’m used to a 35-45 pound pack, but this year I carried a 15 pound base weight, with 18-22 pound total pack weight.  I’m now a believer in lightweight backpacking… carrying a light backpack made the trip MUCH more enjoyable.  I may never be a super ultralight gear head, but having a 20 pound pack is miraculous.  Made the trip so much better.
          > 2.       I didn’t carry a tent.  I’ve camped this way for a long time, since I was 13 or so, and I am very comfortable with it.  My philosophy is that tents are for 3 things:  bugs, rain, and privacy.  On many trips, a tent might be necessary, but in the Sierras in late August during a dry year, I thought a tent wasn’t worth the weight.  It worked great.  Only that one night did I wish I had more weather protection, but I learned to deal with that fine.
          > 3.       I used trekking poles.  A year ago, I would have told you that poles were only for people with bad knees, etc.  Now, I swear by them.  They easily add 10-15% efficiency, especially going up hills, they add a lot of stability on rough ground, and they save your knees going down hills.  Also, some mornings, I was so sore, I needed the poles to stand up… until the Advil kicked in.  Also, I’m a believer in using the wrist straps correctly, as this prevents repetitive motion.  (Also, I have a badly injured right wrist from a motorcycle accident, so proper strap use is essential for me.)
          > 4.       I didn’t carry water.  Actually, I needed to carry water 2 times:  2 quarts from LYV up to Clouds Rest, and 1 quart from Guitar Lake up to Mt. Whitney.  For water treatment, I used a “LifeStraw”, which is a cylindrical filter/straw that you use to suck untreated water out of a water bottle.  It purifies the water as you suck it up.  The LifeStraw really changes the way I think about water, and makes treated water much less precious.  Before, I would spend so much time and effort treating/pumping water, that I was not willing to pour it out.  Consequently, I used to keep the precious treated water, ration it, carry it long distances, often crossing multiple water sources while still carrying that precious bottle of warm stale filtered water.  After thinking about it, it really didn’t make sense to me, so on this trip I had planned, with few exceptions, to only drink at water sources.  If thirsty, I would stop at a stream,
          > take a short break, drink as much water as I wanted, eat a snack, and then move on.
          > 5.       I didn’t use toilet paper (sorry if this is Too Much Information).  I was not willing to carry used toilet paper, so I originally planned to burn the toilet paper in tiny campfires, on a daily basis.  Then, with this summer’s fire bans, I turned to plan B, which I had learned on this Yahoo Group:  after going poo, use a water bottle, and wash yourself with your fingers.  (Squatting down, left hand cupped under butt, right hand pours small amounts of water into cupped hand, washing butt hole repeatedly.)  One quart bottle is enough to wash butt, and one quart bottle (with plenty of soap) is enough to wash hands.  If you are not to squeamish about touching poo, or touching your own butt hole, it works really well.  Make sure you don’t contaminate the bottles, rinse them really well before using them for drinking water again, and wash and sanitize your hands right away.  Works great.  Might sound gross, but probably more
          > sanitary than carrying dirty toilet paper, and you get a much cleaner end result.
          > 6.       I walked an average of 20 miles per day (15 to 25 miles per day).  I don’t consider myself an athlete, so this was a great personal accomplishment, though early in the trip it meant I was hiking until the middle of the night.  I have no regrets about doing this, but I think in the future, I would hike 15 miles per day, as this seemed like pure luxury on the 2 or 3 days that I did it.  For me, 25 miles per day was not enjoyable.
          > 7.       I kept my feet clean and dry, and I did not ignore hot spots.  One thing I learned on this Yahoo Group was the importance of keeping my feet dry and clean.  At least 2 or 3 times per day, while at rest breaks, I would take off my shoes and socks, and let everything dry out.  I had 2 pairs of hiking socks, and I was constantly washing them and I always had a spare pair hanging on the outside of my pack drying in the sun.  In all, I got one blister on my right heel (which I got from ignoring a hot spot while I was in a hurry one day), but this blister was completely healed by the middle of the trip.  For hot spots, I used 3M “Micropore” medical tape, which worked really well (it stuck to the skin well over multiple days, yet the skin could breathe).  I was completely tape free by the last few days of the trip.
          > 8.       I was really happy with the detours I took:  Clouds Rest was incredible, Iva Bell Hot Springs was a wonderful luxury, and the Onion Valley resupply was a relatively easy trail and was necessary to get food for the last 6 days of the trip (I highly recommend a night at the Mt. Williamson Motel).  Originally, the 3 days on the High Sierra Trail was just a convenient strategy to exit on the west side of the Sierras, but in the end it was among my favorite portions of the entire trip.
          > 9.    I hiked solo about 99% of the trip.  For someone who is typically quite social, it was interesting hiking solo for so long.  Really, it was quite nice, I was on my own schedule and could do whatever I wanted.  I was always chatting with people along the way, and met some really nice folks, but I was always free to move on at my own pace and my own timing.  Really quite nice, actually.
          >  
          > Thanks to everyone for the great info and advice they’ve shared on the JMT Yahoo Group.  I hope this trip report helps folks plan their upcoming trips!
          >  
          > Chris Hauser.
          >
          Hi Chris,
          My husband and I chatted with you not far from the McClure Ranger Station the day after you left MTR; we were going in the opposite direction, doing South Lake-North Lake. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the rest of your hike and that you got home safely. We enjoyed our experience so much that we're planning a JMT thru-hike next August! We have vowed to lighten up (but we WILL take a tent and full rain gear after experiencing the rain/hail this year.
          You certainly looked/sounded happy out there!
        • krishna9012
          ... Hi Chris, My husband and I chatted with you not far from the McClure Ranger Station the day after you left MTR; we were going in the opposite direction,
          Message 4 of 5 , Sep 23, 2013
          • 0 Attachment

            Chris:

            Thanks for a great report and congrats on a successful solo trip!  Yes, the best part of the solo is you start and end a days hike on your own limits and need not worry or concern about some one else's!  I did my solo JMT in August and loved it!  In addition to what you did,  I timed exactly each one hour during my hike, took my backpack off, ate all the food I allocated each day and felt really good! Additionally I took flat packs of wetones and cleaned my feet twice a day and cleaned my whole body in the night and had sound sleep most of the days!

            Krishna



            --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <wildtownbags@...> wrote:

            --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chris Hauser <cehauser1@...> wrote:
            >
            > Hello everyone:
            > Since November, I had been planning a 300-mile solo trip on the John Muir Trail southbound and the High Sierra Trail westbound.  I’ve learned so much from this Yahoo Group, that I wanted to post this trip report as a way to pay it forward.
            > SCHEDULE:
            > Saturday, August 16 through Tuesday, September 3.
            > Day 1:  I hiked few hours from Happy Isles, up Mist Trail a half mile with my wife and two small children.  Said goodbye, then continued up Mist Trail to Little Yosemite Valley backpacker campground.  My permit required first night at LYV… so I had lots of time to kill.  I swam/bathed in river, then hiked 2 miles up the valley into LYV (toward Merced Lake).  The scenery becomes really nice after about 2 miles, it really looks like a small version of Yosemite Valley, wish I had hiked further up the canyon.
            > Day 2:  I hiked LYV to Tuolumne Meadows, via Clouds Rest/Sunrise Lakes.  I didn’t hike up Half Dome, but I did hike over Clouds Rest (amazing views!), then up to Sunrise Lakes, took a swim/bath in first lake, then back to the JMT at the Sunrise High Sierra Camp.  Afternoon lightning storm at Long Meadow, so I sat under trees and ate early dinner, then hiked over Cathedral Pass, and down to backpacker camp at the Tuolumne Meadows around dusk.  I had been dreaming of a juicy cheeseburger, but the TM grill closed at 6PM, store still open until 8PM, so I loaded up on ice cream and Gatoraide.  Incredible sunset at TM… didn’t know it at the time, but the incredible sunset was probably caused by smoke from the first few days of the Rim Fire.
            > Day 3:  I bought a hot breakfast at TM grill, then ice cream from the store, and thus got a late start leaving Tuolumne Meadows 10AM.  Got to the base of Donohue Pass just as afternoon lightning storm was forming, so had early dinner and waited several hours for storm to pass.  Ate dinner, then napped in sleeping bag/bivy sack in light rain, got wet and cold.  After lightning passed, I crossed Donohue Pass in early evening, then crossed Island Pass in the full moon, then down to Thousand Island Lake.  I did not have a tent on this trip, so I wanted to hike until the rain stopped, which it did around 11:30PM, when I stopped and camped near Thousand Island Lake.  All gear and clothes soaking wet.  Wearing wet clothes in wet sleeping bag first few hours, until I started shivering uncontrollably, so I took off all my wet clothes, then drank a cup of hot water, and made a very hot water bottle to cuddle with, and then I slept like a baby until dawn.
            > Day 4:  I dried out clothes on dark rocks, then hiked from Thousand Island Lake, down JMT into Devil’s Postpile.  Hail and rain in mid-afternoon.  Early dinner at Red’s Meadow restaurant, then hiked out to look at Rainbow Falls at dusk.  Left JMT/PCT, and hiked south on trail to Fish Creek.  Hiked in the moonlight until about 11PM, camped about a mile before the Island Crossing bridge over Fish Creek.
            > Day 5:  I hiked down to Island Crossing, up Fish Creek to Iva Bell Hot Spring, intermittent rain all morning.  Soaked and bathed in wonderful clear warm water.  Continued east up Fish Creek, through the beautiful Cascade Valley:  most beautiful river on entire trip, and saw 1 person in 7 miles.  Back to JMT/PCT at top of Cascade Valley, over Silver Pass at sunset, camped at Silver Pass Lake about 9:30PM.
            > Day 6:  I hiked from Silver Pass Lake, down to Mono Creek bridge, over Bear Ridge, and up Bear Valley.  Over Selden Pass at dusk, past Sallie Keyes Lakes at sunset, down to MTR by 10:30PM.  Crossed river, fell in water, lost in woods on south side of river looking for Blaney Meadows Hot Springs.  After moon rose about 11:30PM, I climbed a hill and could see the meadow in the distance, quickly found hot spring, then soaked in beautiful clear hot spring until midnight, then camped nearby.
            > Day 7:  I took a zero day.  Morning, picked up resupply, worked on packing resupply at MTR, ate tons of food, purchased stuff at MTR store, chatted with lots of other backpackers.  Afternoon, sat in hot spring with about 15 other campers and JMT backpackers.  A really fun day.  In the evening, soaked solo in smaller hot spring, bathed/shaved, then camped nearby.
            > Day 8:  I hiked from MTR up Evolution Valley and Evolution Canyon.  Made plans with 2 trail buddies I’d met at MTR… we would meet in the evening at Saphire Lake, have dinner together, wait for moon to come out, then cross Muir Pass in the moonlight.  We did all that as planned, except about 2AM the weather got cold and windy, and one of them wasn’t doing well, so we slept in the Muir Hut until dawn.
            > Day 9:  I hiked from Muir Pass, down LeConte Canyon.  Lots of smoke from small lightning fire just west of JMT.  Afternoon, up Palisade Creek, dinner at Quail Meadows with some trail buddies, then up Golden Staircase, and camped at dusk between Upper and Lower Palisade Lakes.
            > Day 10:  I hiked over Mather Pass, down Upper Basin, up past Lake Marjorie, over Pinchot Pass (saw small herd of bighorn sheep!), then down Woods Creek several miles.  Made camp around dusk about 2 miles upstream of Woods Creek Bridge.
            > Day 11:  I hiked 2 miles down to Woods Creek Bridge, up through Rae Lakes Basin, over Glen Pass, then took JMT upper connector trail over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley.  Hitched ride down to Independence, took last available room at Mt Williamson Motel.  Resupply box delivered to motel room (long story), then nice dinner at restaurant in town.  Cleaned up… took 4 showers that night.  A wonderfully rejuvenating rest stop, at a wonderful motel.  Highly recommended.
            > Day 12:  I felt great this morning.  Got shuttle up to Onion Valley trailhead (long story).  Hiked over Kearsarge Pass, then down lower JMT connector trail, past Bullfrog Lake and other beautiful lakes and ponds, down to JMT/PCT, then up Bubbs Creek to the third bear box at Center Basin Creek crossing.  Made camp there by early evening, short day.  (This first day out from a resupply, and I had more food than would fit in a BV450, so needed to spend first night at a bear box.  Also, I had made plans 3 days earlier to meet up with MTR trail buddies here, so it was nice to have dinner and camp with them.)
            > Day 13:  I hiked over Forester Pass with trail buddies, then solo again down to Tyndall Creek, Bighorn Plateau, Wallace Creek, etc.  Originally planned to camp at Sandy Meadow, but no water, so continued on to campsite near Crabtree Meadow Ranger Station (north of creek).  Ran into couple of other trail buddies from MTR, so I had dinner and camped with them.
            > Day 14:  Left nearly all my camping gear at Crabtree Meadow campsite.  Took small day pack, hiked with 2 trail buddies to top of Mt. Whitney midday, then said goodbye to them (they were exiting at Whitney Portal), then hiked back to Crabtree Meadow.  The top of Mt. Whitney marked the official end of the John Muir Trail portion of my trip, and the official beginning of my High Sierra Trail (HST) portion of my trip.
            > Day 15:  Hiked HST from Crabtree Meadow, back north to Wallace Creek, then down Wallace Creek into Kern Canyon, then south down Kern Canyon to Kern Hot Spring.  Soaked in warm water, bathed and shaved.  Felt great to be clean.
            > Day 16:  Hiked HST from Kern Hot Spring, up switchbacks through actively smoldering forest fire area, up to Chagoopa Plateau, past Moraine Lake, down into Big Arroyo, over Kaweah Gap, past the amazing Precipice Lake, and then down the amazing trail to Upper Harrison Lake.  Surprisingly, the 5 miles from Kaweah Gap down past Precipice Lake and down to Upper Harrison Lake held the most amazing mountain scenery of the entire trip!  Also, at Harrison Lake, saw first bear of the entire trip… eating berries and ignoring the 8-10 campers at the lake… so wonderful that our Sierra black bears are wild again…  God bless bear canisters!
            > Day 17:  Hiked HST from Upper Harrison Lake, west past Bearpaw Meadow High Sierra Camp, then continued west to the Crescent Meadow Trailhead, about 2PM.  Lots of people on this last part of the trail… lots of nice people, but the camaraderie of the JMT is missing.  Took free shuttle to Giant Forest Museum, then took Sequoia Shuttle down to Visalia.  Cheeseburger for dinner.  Walked to car rental places to rent car to drive home, but all were closed (it was Labor Day!).  Checked into a hotel in downtown Visalia.  Took 4 showers.
            > Day 18:  Walked to car rental place downtown Visalia.  Rented car one-way.  Drove home to Monterey.
            > THOUGHTS & OBSERVATIONS:
            > This trip was a major departure from ALL the backpacking I’ve done over the past 28 years.  Here are some things I learned:
            > 1.       I went much lighter than I had ever done before.  I’m used to a 35-45 pound pack, but this year I carried a 15 pound base weight, with 18-22 pound total pack weight.  I’m now a believer in lightweight backpacking… carrying a light backpack made the trip MUCH more enjoyable.  I may never be a super ultralight gear head, but having a 20 pound pack is miraculous.  Made the trip so much better.
            > 2.       I didn’t carry a tent.  I’ve camped this way for a long time, since I was 13 or so, and I am very comfortable with it.  My philosophy is that tents are for 3 things:  bugs, rain, and privacy.  On many trips, a tent might be necessary, but in the Sierras in late August during a dry year, I thought a tent wasn’t worth the weight.  It worked great.  Only that one night did I wish I had more weather protection, but I learned to deal with that fine.
            > 3.       I used trekking poles.  A year ago, I would have told you that poles were only for people with bad knees, etc.  Now, I swear by them.  They easily add 10-15% efficiency, especially going up hills, they add a lot of stability on rough ground, and they save your knees going down hills.  Also, some mornings, I was so sore, I needed the poles to stand up… until the Advil kicked in.  Also, I’m a believer in using the wrist straps correctly, as this prevents repetitive motion.  (Also, I have a badly injured right wrist from a motorcycle accident, so proper strap use is essential for me.)
            > 4.       I didn’t carry water.  Actually, I needed to carry water 2 times:  2 quarts from LYV up to Clouds Rest, and 1 quart from Guitar Lake up to Mt. Whitney.  For water treatment, I used a “LifeStraw”, which is a cylindrical filter/straw that you use to suck untreated water out of a water bottle.  It purifies the water as you suck it up.  The LifeStraw really changes the way I think about water, and makes treated water much less precious.  Before, I would spend so much time and effort treating/pumping water, that I was not willing to pour it out.  Consequently, I used to keep the precious treated water, ration it, carry it long distances, often crossing multiple water sources while still carrying that precious bottle of warm stale filtered water.  After thinking about it, it really didn’t make sense to me, so on this trip I had planned, with few exceptions, to only drink at water sources.  If thirsty, I would stop at a stream,
            > take a short break, drink as much water as I wanted, eat a snack, and then move on.
            > 5.       I didn’t use toilet paper (sorry if this is Too Much Information).  I was not willing to carry used toilet paper, so I originally planned to burn the toilet paper in tiny campfires, on a daily basis.  Then, with this summer’s fire bans, I turned to plan B, which I had learned on this Yahoo Group:  after going poo, use a water bottle, and wash yourself with your fingers.  (Squatting down, left hand cupped under butt, right hand pours small amounts of water into cupped hand, washing butt hole repeatedly.)  One quart bottle is enough to wash butt, and one quart bottle (with plenty of soap) is enough to wash hands.  If you are not to squeamish about touching poo, or touching your own butt hole, it works really well.  Make sure you don’t contaminate the bottles, rinse them really well before using them for drinking water again, and wash and sanitize your hands right away.  Works great.  Might sound gross, but probably more
            > sanitary than carrying dirty toilet paper, and you get a much cleaner end result.
            > 6.       I walked an average of 20 miles per day (15 to 25 miles per day).  I don’t consider myself an athlete, so this was a great personal accomplishment, though early in the trip it meant I was hiking until the middle of the night.  I have no regrets about doing this, but I think in the future, I would hike 15 miles per day, as this seemed like pure luxury on the 2 or 3 days that I did it.  For me, 25 miles per day was not enjoyable.
            > 7.       I kept my feet clean and dry, and I did not ignore hot spots.  One thing I learned on this Yahoo Group was the importance of keeping my feet dry and clean.  At least 2 or 3 times per day, while at rest breaks, I would take off my shoes and socks, and let everything dry out.  I had 2 pairs of hiking socks, and I was constantly washing them and I always had a spare pair hanging on the outside of my pack drying in the sun.  In all, I got one blister on my right heel (which I got from ignoring a hot spot while I was in a hurry one day), but this blister was completely healed by the middle of the trip.  For hot spots, I used 3M “Micropore” medical tape, which worked really well (it stuck to the skin well over multiple days, yet the skin could breathe).  I was completely tape free by the last few days of the trip.
            > 8.       I was really happy with the detours I took:  Clouds Rest was incredible, Iva Bell Hot Springs was a wonderful luxury, and the Onion Valley resupply was a relatively easy trail and was necessary to get food for the last 6 days of the trip (I highly recommend a night at the Mt. Williamson Motel).  Originally, the 3 days on the High Sierra Trail was just a convenient strategy to exit on the west side of the Sierras, but in the end it was among my favorite portions of the entire trip.
            > 9.    I hiked solo about 99% of the trip.  For someone who is typically quite social, it was interesting hiking solo for so long.  Really, it was quite nice, I was on my own schedule and could do whatever I wanted.  I was always chatting with people along the way, and met some really nice folks, but I was always free to move on at my own pace and my own timing.  Really quite nice, actually.
            >  
            > Thanks to everyone for the great info and advice they’ve shared on the JMT Yahoo Group.  I hope this trip report helps folks plan their upcoming trips!
            >  
            > Chris Hauser.
            >
            Hi Chris,
            My husband and I chatted with you not far from the McClure Ranger Station the day after you left MTR; we were going in the opposite direction, doing South Lake-North Lake. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the rest of your hike and that you got home safely. We enjoyed our experience so much that we're planning a JMT thru-hike next August! We have vowed to lighten up (but we WILL take a tent and full rain gear after experiencing the rain/hail this year.
            You certainly looked/sounded happy out there!
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.