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Ten Biggest Lessons Learned - Tuesday Blog Post

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  • Ray Rippel
    Good morning, It has been seven years since I started hiking again in a big way, and I have learned a ton. That’s good, because I am no longer young enough
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
      Good morning,

      It has been seven years since I started hiking again in a big way, and I have learned a ton. That’s good, because I am no longer young enough to just “power through” my mistakes. Thinking-my-way along the trail is a far better approach.

      Here are my top ten lessons. If you learned most of these in your first six months, I guess that gives you some insight into the way my mind works—or doesn’t.

      Good hiking, Ray

       

      Ray Rippel

      Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail

      http://jmtbook.com/

      Follow me at: www.twitter.com/JMTBook

    • Roleigh Martin
      Excellent advice Ray. The one I think is most ignored by newbie JMT hikers, where their past experience is day hiking or an occasional multi-day hike is this
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
        Excellent advice Ray.  The one I think is most ignored by newbie JMT hikers, where their past experience is day hiking or an occasional multi-day hike is this one:

        3. Take long and more frequent breaks.

        I typically hike for 2 hours before my first break but after that I go by the clock, every 90 minutes after the prior break I break.  I always have about 14 oz of water ready for that break so I don't depend on water being available to do that break.  I typically break for about 15-20 minutes but want to break longer 1-2 times day to take the shoes and socks off, soak the feet, and let the socks dry. 

        So many people are focused on a destination, and getting to their "nesting place" so they setup their nest. I have found many fast and strong hikers burn out though by the time they get to Bishop Pass Junction.

        Aside from trail runners wanting to break records, I find the successful JMT hiker focuses on enjoying the journey rather than focusing on getting to their daily destination.




        -------------------------------------------------
        Visit my Google Profile (lots of very interesting research links)
        _



        On Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 8:49 AM, Ray Rippel ray.rippel@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
         

        Good morning,

        It has been seven years since I started hiking again in a big way, and I have learned a ton. That’s good, because I am no longer young enough to just “power through” my mistakes. Thinking-my-way along the trail is a far better approach.

        Here are my top ten lessons. If you learned most of these in your first six months, I guess that gives you some insight into the way my mind works—or doesn’t.

        Good hiking, Ray

         

        Ray Rippel

        Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail

        http://jmtbook.com/

        Follow me at: www.twitter.com/JMTBook


      • Ray Rippel
        Thanks, Roleigh. I think I learned this after my first trip. I would show my wife photos of spots along the trail and she would ask, Did you stop there for a
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
          Thanks, Roleigh. I think I learned this after my first trip. I would show my wife photos of spots along the trail and she would ask, "Did you stop there for a while?" I'd answer, "No", all the while cringing at my foolishness. 

        • Kim Fishburn
          I m under the firm belief that by going slower you ll go further by the end of the day. On Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Ray Rippel ray.rippel@gmail.com
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
            I'm under the firm belief that by going slower you'll go further by the end of the day.


            On Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 11:08 AM, Ray Rippel ray.rippel@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
             

            Thanks, Roleigh. I think I learned this after my first trip. I would show my wife photos of spots along the trail and she would ask, "Did you stop there for a while?" I'd answer, "No", all the while cringing at my foolishness. 


          • faridwatson
            Hello JMTers, Some general comments about Ray s 10 lessons, which I very much agree with. Thanks, Ray! 1) There are two trails. The John Muir Trail and the
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
              Hello JMTers,
              Some general comments about Ray's 10 lessons, which I very much agree with.  Thanks, Ray!

              1)  There are two trails.  The John Muir Trail and the John Muir Speedway.  Kudos to those who take on the physical challenge to do the JMS in few days ... great accomplishment!  But I'm old (67.5) and slow.  When you wear headlamps and hike at night, what do you see besides gravel and tree roots?

              1a)  Even if you hike the JM Trail, a lot of people suffer from what I call "exit-itis."  Of course, sometimes you are limited by number of vacation days and other schedules, but sometimes not.  It takes so much work to get there, why be in a hurry to exit?  "It's only 18 miles to the car!  We can make it out in one day!"  Exhausting and no fun.

              1b)  I like to say, "Rest until you are tired of resting!"  I tend to take a lot of short breaks when I can find a "sitting down rock" whose perfect declination will take all the weight off me and I have a deep relaxation... even if for a few breaths (without the labor of taking the pack off) or until the breath is calm and unlabored.  Ah!  The heart works by beating, then resting.  You need to sit a few moments to really notice what's around you!  (Camera time)  This way, I can do a long hike day without a lot of stress.  My adage:  "Hiking is the art of deep relaxation and boiling water."

              2)  Trekking poles eliminate what I used to call, "the deep knee bends of truth."  They're perfect climbing and very helpful on some steep rocky downhill (especially with my bad knee), BUT they will break your rhythm in semi-flat terraine and a very hard lesson is learning when to pick them up and carry them.  (Almost 1/4 of the time).

              3)  Weight matters, but for an extra 2 lbs you can have an extra day in the mountains, or 2 half days of hiking.  Actually, I just downshift into second gear and go slow and rest when I can, and the weight is not so bad.  (I carried 12 days up Trail Crest in July, preferring the weight and the extra time to lightness and speed.)  Miles are not the correct unit to measure distance with, because not all miles are created equal.  A 6-mile day and a 14-mile day can be equal!  I don't do miles, and I don't do time, I only do where the sun and moon are (though that's time, technically).  I much prefer the "raga" or "hora" of the solar arcs to a watch (don't take one): it's a totally different natural tuning.  Love it.

              3a) Going solo is so much better for logistics, but you do carry a bit more weight.  Rhythm is important -- your rhythm -- but not everyone can coordinate the same pace naturally.  Solo, you can stop early, go longer, whatever.  You don't have to catch up or wait.  And there's plenty of nice conversation on the trail, so you don't feel isolated at all.  So much better, more meditative, really nice.

              4)  Yes, you are taking care of your body, but don't forget your mind.  A book is good, but I'm enjoying taking crosswords ... they're much lighter to carry and very entertaining.  Usually I take the lightest book in my library, several xwords, and some photocopied chess puzzles which are also the paper for my notes. I only did the xwords this JMT, though, and will probably eliminate the book in the future.


              Thanks for reading, and I'm sure not everyone will agree with my approach -- but I welcome your acrimonious and opinionated rebuttals <chuckle>.

              What I learned this year:  John Muir was the first one to take the mountaineer's route to the top of Whitney.  whoa.

              -- Farid
            • dj_ayers
              Hmm. My number 1 item (by far) is: get in appropriate physical condition for the endeavor.
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
                Hmm.  My number 1 item (by far) is:  get in appropriate physical condition for the endeavor.
              • Ned Tibbits
                As in many things, it all depends on why you’re out hiking in the first place. For me, from the beginning to the end of my day, I am constantly taking
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
                  As in many things, it all depends on why you’re out hiking in the first place.
                   
                  For me, from the beginning to the end of my day, I am constantly taking everything in. If I see a place with a good view or an area that I like, I stop to take the pack off, grab a bite to eat, maybe explore a little, take a few pictures, and otherwise find a way to savor the moment. That is why I am out there.
                   
                  I don’t know if I will ever be back, so I take as much time as I can to hear what the mountains are telling me....
                   
                   
                  Ned Tibbits, Director
                  Mountain Education, Inc.
                  www.mountaineducation.org
                  ned@...


                  Mission:
                  "To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."
                   
                  Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 8:49 AM
                  Subject: [John Muir Trail] Ten Biggest Lessons Learned - Tuesday Blog Post
                   
                   

                  Good morning,
                   
                  It has been seven years since I started hiking again in a big way, and I have learned a ton. That’s good, because I am no longer young enough to just “power through” my mistakes. Thinking-my-way along the trail is a far better approach.
                   
                  Here are my top ten lessons. If you learned most of these in your first six months, I guess that gives you some insight into the way my mind works—or doesn’t.
                   

                  Good hiking, Ray

                   

                  Ray Rippel

                  Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail

                  http://jmtbook.com/

                  Follow me at: www.twitter.com/JMTBook

                • Arla Hile
                  I have a hard time really enjoying the scenery when I m moving, so stopping is important to me. Most days I like to start early, before breakfast (you ve
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 19, 2014
                    I have a hard time really enjoying the scenery when I'm moving, so stopping is important to me.

                    Most days I like to start early, before breakfast (you've written about this before, Ray, don't recall where I saw that), plan to amble along all day, and those long breaks just fall into place
                    - breakfast (nothing like morning coffee on top of a pass!)
                    - foot soak
                    - laundry stop (damp clothes when you've still got a lot of hiking time left - no problem!)
                    - lunch
                    - another foot soak or maybe even a swim - don't forget to change those socks!
                    - bathing (at least the important bits)
                    - dinner
                    - slow down and study possible camping spots, so many choices!

                    Of course this year and all the rain sort of made the foot soaking, laundry-doing and swimming mostly a no-go.

                    Cheers,
                    Arla



                    On Tuesday, August 19, 2014 2:14 PM, "'Ned Tibbits' ned@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                     


                     
                    As in many things, it all depends on why you’re out hiking in the first place.
                     
                    For me, from the beginning to the end of my day, I am constantly taking everything in. If I see a place with a good view or an area that I like, I stop to take the pack off, grab a bite to eat, maybe explore a little, take a few pictures, and otherwise find a way to savor the moment. That is why I am out there.
                     
                    I don’t know if I will ever be back, so I take as much time as I can to hear what the mountains are telling me....
                     
                     
                    Ned Tibbits, Director
                    Mountain Education, Inc.
                    www.mountaineducation.org
                    ned@...


                    Mission:
                    "To minimize wilderness accidents, injury, and illness in order to maximize wilderness enjoyment, safety, and personal growth, all through experiential education and risk awareness training."
                     
                    Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2014 8:49 AM
                    Subject: [John Muir Trail] Ten Biggest Lessons Learned - Tuesday Blog Post
                     
                     
                    Good morning,
                     
                    It has been seven years since I started hiking again in a big way, and I have learned a ton. That’s good, because I am no longer young enough to just “power through” my mistakes. Thinking-my-way along the trail is a far better approach.
                     
                    Here are my top ten lessons. If you learned most of these in your first six months, I guess that gives you some insight into the way my mind works—or doesn’t.
                     
                    Good hiking, Ray
                     
                    Ray Rippel
                    Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail


                  • marcjmt@yahoo.com
                    Hey Farid: l camped with you after going over Donahue pass in 2012. Enjoy your comments! Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 21, 2014

                      Hey Farid: l camped with you after going over Donahue pass in 2012. Enjoy your comments!

                      Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android



                      From: faridwatson01@... [johnmuirtrail] <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com>;
                      To: <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com>;
                      Subject: [John Muir Trail] Re: Ten Biggest Lessons Learned - Commentary!
                      Sent: Tue, Aug 19, 2014 7:00:08 PM

                       

                      Hello JMTers,

                      Some general comments about Ray's 10 lessons, which I very much agree with.  Thanks, Ray!

                      1)  There are two trails.  The John Muir Trail and the John Muir Speedway.  Kudos to those who take on the physical challenge to do the JMS in few days ... great accomplishment!  But I'm old (67.5) and slow.  When you wear headlamps and hike at night, what do you see besides gravel and tree roots?

                      1a)  Even if you hike the JM Trail, a lot of people suffer from what I call "exit-itis."  Of course, sometimes you are limited by number of vacation days and other schedules, but sometimes not.  It takes so much work to get there, why be in a hurry to exit?  "It's only 18 miles to the car!  We can make it out in one day!"  Exhausting and no fun.

                      1b)  I like to say, "Rest until you are tired of resting!"  I tend to take a lot of short breaks when I can find a "sitting down rock" whose perfect declination will take all the weight off me and I have a deep relaxation... even if for a few breaths (without the labor of taking the pack off) or until the breath is calm and unlabored.  Ah!  The heart works by beating, then resting.  You need to sit a few moments to really notice what's around you!  (Camera time)  This way, I can do a long hike day without a lot of stress.  My adage:  "Hiking is the art of deep relaxation and boiling water."

                      2)  Trekking poles eliminate what I used to call, "the deep knee bends of truth."  They're perfect climbing and very helpful on some steep rocky downhill (especially with my bad knee), BUT they will break your rhythm in semi-flat terraine and a very hard lesson is learning when to pick them up and carry them.  (Almost 1/4 of the time).

                      3)  Weight matters, but for an extra 2 lbs you can have an extra day in the mountains, or 2 half days of hiking.  Actually, I just downshift into second gear and go slow and rest when I can, and the weight is not so bad.  (I carried 12 days up Trail Crest in July, preferring the weight and the extra time to lightness and speed.)  Miles are not the correct unit to measure distance with, because not all miles are created equal.  A 6-mile day and a 14-mile day can be equal!  I don't do miles, and I don't do time, I only do where the sun and moon are (though that's time, technically).  I much prefer the "raga" or "hora" of the solar arcs to a watch (don't take one): it's a totally different natural tuning.  Love it.

                      3a) Going solo is so much better for logistics, but you do carry a bit more weight.  Rhythm is important -- your rhythm -- but not everyone can coordinate the same pace naturally.  Solo, you can stop early, go longer, whatever.  You don't have to catch up or wait.  And there's plenty of nice conversation on the trail, so you don't feel isolated at all.  So much better, more meditative, really nice.

                      4)  Yes, you are taking care of your body, but don't forget your mind.  A book is good, but I'm enjoying taking crosswords ... they're much lighter to carry and very entertaining.  Usually I take the lightest book in my library, several xwords, and some photocopied chess puzzles which are also the paper for my notes. I only did the xwords this JMT, though, and will probably eliminate the book in the future.


                      Thanks for reading, and I'm sure not everyone will agree with my approach -- but I welcome your acrimonious and opinionated rebuttals <chuckle>.

                      What I learned this year:  John Muir was the first one to take the mountaineer's route to the top of Whitney.  whoa.

                      -- Farid
                    • faridwatson
                      Hi, Marc! Yes I remember. (Thanks for the pictures, too!) A tent pole at the foot of my solo Divine Light finally broke at the tip despite the duct-tape. I
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 22, 2014
                        Hi, Marc!
                        Yes I remember.  (Thanks for the pictures, too!)

                        A tent pole at the foot of my solo Divine Light finally broke at the tip despite the duct-tape.  I bailed at Bishop Pass (whoa, that's a real pass) due to the deluge of August 2012 and not having adequate rain tent -- especially going into the southern regions.  If you talked to rangers, you might have heard about a "vortex" over the Colorado Plateau, but when I got home someone sent me a NASA link of footage of the north pole from Aug 1 to Sept 15 or so ... you could see the ice receding in that period.  Anyway, we got slammed with eastern storms and that season convinced me of climate change in the Sierras.

                        We had a light snow/winter for 2014, so I thought maybe I could sneak a JMT in July before the monsoons hit.  Wrong.  I completed JMT NoBo last month, and JMT SoBo from HI in 2013.  Everybody on the trail asked which direction I liked better, so maybe I'll post.

                        Did you get a lot of nice Sierra pictures?

                        Peace out,
                        Farid
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