Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where we Plan to Sleep

We have chosen sleeping locations as described below, but we don't expect that we'll actually stay at each of these. We may decide to hike more or less any day and also have to consider weather. If we have time, we'll post the elevation profile with the campsites on the same graph.

There are two days planned to be exceptionally short. One at the start to assist in acclimating to the altitude and the second during our off-trail adventure with following the Sierra High Route to give an opportunity to enjoy the solitude of the off-trail environment.

1: Cottonwood Lakes w/ Alexa
2: ? Rock Creek or Cottonwood Lakes
3: Rock Creek
4: Guitar Lake (right below Mt. Whitney)
5: Crabtree Meadow or Bighorn Plateau (We climb Mt. Whitney today!)
6: Bighorn or Tyndall Creek Frog Ponds
7: Upper Vidette Meadow
8: Onion Valley (where we meet 'Bob' to pick up our resupply box) or just before Kearsarge Pass
9: 60 Lakes (near Rae Lakes)
10: Sawmill Pass Junction (cross a huge suspension bridge)
11: Upper Basin after King's River Crossing
12: Big Pete Meadow or Starrs Camp (Amazing views)
13: Evolution Meadow?
14: Muir Trail Ranch (pick up resupply bucket)
15: Bear Ridge Trail Junction
16: Vermillion Valley Resort (a shower! laundry!)
17: Leave JMT to do a portion of the Sierra High Route. Stay at Laurel Lake Trail Junction
18: Bighorn Lake
19: Izaak Walton Lake
20: Deer Lake
21: Red's Meadow (resupply, have a meal at their 'restaurant')
22: Garnet Lake
23: Donohue Pass/Lyell Canyon
24: Cathedral Lake
25: Sunrise Lake (climb Cloud's Rest)
26: Curry Village (go climb Half Dome?)
28: Go Home!


In Bear Valley this past weekend, I decided the crampons were definitely a good idea. At 8000 feet, there was still quite a bit of snow. Amy and I had a great hike: some trail, cross country, snow crossings, bouldering...all with incredible views of the Sierras. Imagine being able to leave your front door and walk out to all of this.

Shorts in the snow? Yep. It was warm up there! Why does my pack look so small and lightweight in this picture?

And then there was less...

Since this whole trip seems to focus on minimizing (weight, size, number), we decided to minimize our need for personal care. Ryan was thrilled to assist with this plan. He arrived with his clippers and the idea that a mohawk would be the perfect style. We all had a good chuckle at Dave's expense and Ryan eventually decided that a #3 all the way around would also be acceptable.

As for my minimizing, my hairdresser was happy to shorten my hair. Rinsing it in a lake will be simple. The downside? It seems to be the perfect length to create quite a display without the assistance of a straightener and blow dryer. Picture this:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Something Fishy

Macy thought she saw Dave tonight. It was just a bird with a story to tell. A man matching Dave's description was seen consuming copious amounts of raw fish. Perhaps this is how he prepares his stomach for the backcountry diet?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Weekend

Yes, that's my current altitude being shown by my new toy. You probably can't see the current temperature, tide or moon phase, but they're displayed as well. Add to that the barometer, compass and solar charging capability and who could pass it up? Plus, at twice the size of my wrist, it's a bit of a workout to wear; I'm quite sure it's helped to prepare me for the rigorous days ahead.

I'm enjoying time with a good friend in Bear Valley for my final preparation. A little elevation change, definitely some hiking (my pack and boots are in the truck), a run and good company. Perfect.

How is Dave preparing this weekend?He'll also be at a higher elevation and carrying something on his back. But, not his backpack. Maybe he'll post a photo?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Solar Charger Finished

I've been using my homemade solar battery chargers on backpacking trips for 5 or 6 years. This year's solar panel (bottom left) is flexible, lighter, and more efficient. It's working with Beth's lithium camera batteries (for her Canon SLR), and there's also a USB port for, well, for, umm, say, an iPod.

The $35 panel is rated to deliver 200mA at 7.2V. In the backyard it pumps 60-90mA into the battery, which has a capacity of 1400 mAh. The sun's intensity at altitude is significantly higher. We'll carry 2 batteries--One in the camera and the other in the charger while we hike, then switch the next day. Since camera memory is cheap (we'll have 10 GBytes), and since we'll have unlimited solar power, we'll be able to take photos like crazy. And if it's cloudy and rainy the whole trip, who wants to take pictures anyway?

The panel is secured to that part of my pack which fits on top of the main pack. Tuck the battery in the pack, flip the switch, and let the chemical reactions begin.

Check Your Underwear

Walked out into the garage and noticed this, Latrodectus hesperus, hanging out on the washing machine.

There's a basket of my (clean) underwear and socks next to the washer. Maybe that's where she was headed. Creepy. Maybe her family has already made a home in one of my socks. I think I'll wash that load again. Extra hot water.

This web site contains info about what to do if bitten by a Black Widow.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What You Know...

...may terrify you. While this very informative book gave us a plethora of creative ideas, it is possible that we may diagnose a sore muscle as a sure sign of a rare mountain borne illness.

Dave learned that treatment of any or all of the following would be most uncomfortable:

Compound fracture
Dislocated shoulder
Root canal infection (he did that in Bhutan)
Arrow extraction
Frostbite (rapid rewarming is preferable)
Riding out on a mule with a broken ankle

So, we will avoid anything that might hurt.

Safety first.

Our Packs

I've just finished the packing list and have a good idea of our pack weights. The spreadsheet includes the weight of each item, quantity and which pack it will be placed in. I then packed my orange pack. It's full. And, it still needs to have the bear can full of food placed inside! Have ideas for better space efficiency. Guess I need to put those into practice.

We weighed everything; a total of 97 items. Here are some of the items and weights:

Necessary for Survival:
  • EPiRB: 5 ounces
  • 1 Litre H20: 2.13 pounds (we'll carry 2-3 each)
  • Stove w/ wind screen: 9.75 ounces
  • Headlamp: 2.75 ounces
Luxury Items:
  • Solar Panel (practical more than luxurious: camera battery charging): 4 ounces
  • Stuff Sack with Fleece Liner that can be made into a pillow (also practical, we need stuff sacks to organize things in our packs): 2.25 ounces
  • Quick Dry Towel: 2 ounces
  • Rubber Tips for Trekking Poles (Safety Item for climbing over granite): 0.75 ounces
  • Cup: 2.5 ounces
  • Pot (1 Litre, Titanium): 7.75 ounces
  • Tent: 5 pounds
  • Large Black Garbage Bag (pack rain cover): 1.75 ounces
Organization in the pack and in camp is important. So, I've chosen stuff sacks wisely (and minimally -- at 2.25 ounces each, I don't want too many!). Black is for BRR and therefore houses all things to keep me warm. The Red stuff sack holds Rain gear. You get the idea. Maybe Dave will post his camp clean-up checklist.

Now it's time to pack the last resupply box. This one is mailed to the Vermillion Valley Resort (click here) We thought about skipping this resupply location to save some time and then came to our senses. We'll take a ferry to the 'Resort', enjoy the first shower of the trip, do laundry and have a meal that is not freeze dried. It will be less than 24 hours, but worth more than every minute of it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Google Earth

If you use Google Earth you'll be able to see our planned route with an amazing level of detail using this link.

The John Muir Trail is highlighted in yellow. The trips we have planned off-trail are in orange. You must play around by tilting the view, and spin around in 3D--you can often see the trail and you can see almost every tree. You can fly the entire hike as if you were in a hang glider. There's a marker in that file called 'Cottonwood Lake Trailhead', that's where we'll be going in. From there you can follow the path all the way to Yosemite Valley.

If you have a fast connection, in Tools/Options slide the Terrain Quality to the highest level. Right below the Terrain Quality slider is the Elevation Exaggeration field. Type in 2 or 2.5 so it looks more dramatic.

If you don't use Google Earth, you should give it a try. Go here and download the desktop application. Incredible. Really.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

26 Pounds & 6 Days

That's 26 pounds of food for two people for 6 days. Here's the menu:

Logan Bread
Logan Bread
Cold Granola w/ dried fruit
Cold Granola w/ dried fruit
Oatmeal w/ Apple Gorp
Oatmeal w/ Apple Gorp

Tortilla Fajitas
Tortilla Fajitas
Tortilla Fajitas
Tortilla w/ cheese
Tortilla w/ cheese
Crackers w/ tuna
Crackers w/ tuna

DINNER Dave (6)
Lasagna w/ meat sauce Lasagna w/ meat sauce
Hearty beef stew 800 cal
Mexican Style Rice and chicken
Kung Pao Chicken
Louisiana Red Beans & Rice
Mac and cheese

DINNER Beth(6) Lasagna w/ meat sauce Lasagna w/ meat sauce
Hearty beef stew 800 cal
Jamaica BBQ Chicken
Lentil Soup
Louisiana Red Beans & Rice
Mac and cheese

And now, a short explanation of some foods named above:

Logan Bread:
Dave has used this 'solid' home-made bread to play a tune on his golf club. One inch thick, lots of whole wheat flour, dried fruit and nuts. Calorie packed. Did I mention density? It took two of us to lift the pan out of the oven!

Quesadilla: Whole Wheat Tortillas with cheese (we found some that doesn't have to be refrigerated...we think)

Tortilla Fajitas: I know, you're wondering how we're going to keep bears away when our fajitas are sizzling over an open fire. Well, imagine this: Pieces of delicious, flavorful Beef Jerky wrapped in a tortilla. Full stop. No sizzling, bell peppers, onions, salsa (or bears).

Snacks: There are many and they're not listed above. Nuts, dried fruit, Clif bars etc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


More insurance. We hope we end up carrying these things around in our packs, never coming across the situation where we need to strap these on. But if there's a little icy snow over the pass... It will be less slippery just knowing we have these toothy guys ready to go.

Monday, June 15, 2009

We're Taking This

Dave is making some improvements.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dried Everything

Here's an idea of the food prep for the resupply packages. Dried fruits, instant rice, dried veggies, freeze dried lasagna, macaroni and cheese, lentil soup, beef stroganoff, kung pao chicken, Kathmandu curry, Mexican style chicken and rice, tequila chicken, granola, granola, granola, endless granola, gorp (granola with a shorter name), cliff bars (packaged granola), breakfast cereal (granola). Nuts everywhere (like in the granola), ginger candies (1/day).

Boiled, salted, dried flank steak. We made it. That's not a white balance problem - it really is that color. Gray.

Let us know and we'll send you some to taste. It's supposed to last 10 weeks. We could even send you some of the leftovers after we get back. Indestructible, that's what they say about that boiled beef. Other uses: tent repair, blister treatment, chewing gum, who knows?

Beef jerky, 2 flavors. One Moroccan spice, the other BBQ. At least the color makes it look more like food.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The first 'resupply' package has to be mailed by Friday. This box is going to Independence, CA. We hope that a man named Bill (or one of his trustworthy in-laws) will pick up our box and meet us near the trail.

We'll re-fill our bear can (click here), hike the 9 miles back to the trail and continue North on the JMT. This resupply box will have 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 6 dinners.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Carrots and Safety

Something went wrong with the carrots. They were not expecting to be left in the oven all night, but that's what happened. It wasn't anybody's fault. Well, maybe Beth forgot them...

In case something goes terribly wrong on our hike, if we desperately need help and we can't get out of the wilderness ourselves, we'll have one of these with us:

This Personal Location Beacon, when activated, will transmit our GPS coordinates to a satellite network used for search and rescue.

I don't mean to make light of the safety issue. It will be comforting to know that if we're off the main trail and something goes wrong we'll be able to call for help.

These devices have recently been getting smaller and lighter--the one we bought was released a couple of months ago. Only 5 1/2 oz.

More detail here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Route Planning

The Elevation Profile is above the whiteboard with our first idea of where we'll sleep each night. Click the image above for more detail.

Some might remember the time I discovered that I had a nickname at college...what can I say? Whiteboards are amazing. I use them to make lists and color is important. In college, I found it such an effective study tool that my frequent use of the whiteboard resulted in a nickname. Perhaps I shouldn't have carried it to the library and class? Or maybe it was that time I took it to dinner?

When I walked into Dave's house for the first time and saw a large whiteboard on the wall with many colors of markers available (I shouldn't leave out the effective eraser), there was nothing else I needed to know...

The Maps