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JMT Pre Hike FAQs - Trail to Summit

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April 9, 2014 / Comments (1)

JMT Pre Hike FAQs

I get asked a lot of questions about hiking the John Muir Trail. A lot. Fortunately I love talking about hiking and could do so for hours! This post will include many of the questions I am asked as I prepare for the JMT. Being on the East Coast I encounter a lot of people (hikers included) that don’t know anything about the JMT. I’ve been asked some really wonderful questions and others that make my laugh for various reasons. Being a female, I get asked many questions that make me want to bash my head against a wall, but I will address those questions in a separate post.

Have a question I didn’t discuss? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to this post!

Where are you hiking?

In short, I am hiking the John Muir Trail, a 211 mile footpath located in California. Parts of the trail overlap with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) that runs from Mexico to Canada. Some of the more well known (and gorgeous) areas the trail runs through include Yosemite, John Muir Wilderness, Ansel Adams Wilderness, and ends atop the highest peak in the continental United States, Mount Whitney.

What about bears? 

I always know what people mean by this, but I think it’s funny that people always ask the question this way. In short, there are bears. I am not worried about them as I will store my food and other smelly items like toothpaste in a bear canister. I will avoid camping in areas known to attract bears and will give them space if I see one.

And mountain lions?

Same as above. There have been no reported deaths on the JMT. There are Bobcats sightings in the White Mountains, but no one has freaked out about those…yet. 

Are you carrying a gun?

If I were to carry a gun relative to my pack weight, it would have to be one of those toy water guns you buy at the dollar store. I don’t own a gun in the real world and I’m not sure what I’d do with it on a trail! I will also not be carrying pepper spray, bear spray, large knives (I’ll have a small swiss army knife) or a bow and arrow in case anyone is wondering.

What will you eat?

I am in the process of dehydrating my own meals for dinners. I will eat mainly oatmeal or granola in the morning and lots of small meals throughout the day to stay properly nourished. I will be adding more of my meal prep, but here’s my first meal: dehydrated chili

What are you doing about water?

Drinking a ton of it! There is so much water along the JMT that I won’t have an issue. I made an inline filtering system using a Sawyer Mini to make quenching my thirst even easier.

How much toilet paper are you bringing?

None! There are a number of reasons for this including having to pack out toilet paper (didn’t think about that part, did you?) I will be using a pee rag and most likely wet wipes for poop. I will say the word poop. My reasoning? Just read the book Everybody Poops and you’ll understand. Now that you’ve read the word poop four times, I think we can move on 🙂 I will be writing more about hygiene and female related questions on a separate post.

You’re going by yourself? Why??

Yes. I really enjoy hiking with others, but really like hiking solo as well. I can choose to hike with others when the opportunity arises on the trail, but I can have the freedom of hiking by myself as much as I want. I can start as early as I want, take 40 minutes to take one decent photo, hike further or set up camp early, and no one has a say but me.

Finding a partner with enough experience, the right gear, vacation time, and get the same permit is tough. I also would have to find someone who hikes at the same pace as me as well as someone I could stand for over two weeks. It’s a lot to think about. I think I’ll be able to put up with myself for that time.

Made by another hiker. Pretty accurate!


So you’re not hiking with your fiancé?

I will be! We will be flying into California the week before my hike and we will head to some beautiful parts of California, including some trails! He will then see me off at the trailhead and catch his flight home. It’s my dream to hike the John Muir Trail and I’m not forcing it on anyone else. He isn’t as obsessed as I am about hiking and I would still like to get married after all!

How many miles are you hiking each day?

I will have some variety, but I will average 14 miles per day. I have a couple 10/11 mile days and a couple 17/18 mile days which is based on the terrain, altitude gain, and pack weight. Check out my proposed itinerary here.

Will you see anyone else?

Definitely. There is a permit system to limit the amount of hikers in certain areas and I will be hiking in wilderness areas, but there are plenty of people who will be hiking the trail. It is hard to say for certain, but I may see dozens of people one day, but not a soul the next. Hiking North to South, which is the more popular route, I would most likely run into someone if I stopped long enough. 

What if you get hurt?

I am trained in Wilderness First Aid and have been hiking long enough to take care of the small issues. I will have a small first aid kit with me and know what to do in situations that could be dangerous such as thunderstorms. If I encounter a more serious situation, I will be carrying a Spot GPS messenger which I can use to send an SOS for emergency rescue.

What about men?

Being a woman, many people automatically think I should be worried about men on the trail. I’m more worried about Marmots stealing my food. I’ve heard many times hiking in the Whites, “There are no assholes above 4000 feet.” While I have seen the rare miserable person being dragged up a mountain, once you get away from the trailheads and hordes to people, you’ll be fine. No one is going to get a permit to hike the JMT, kill you, put in a whole lot of effort to get rid of the body, and then hike back into town. Alleys are way easier.

Where will you sleep?

I have a Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis tarp I will be sleeping in every night on the trail. I may occasionally sleep under the stars!

Why the JMT?

I have always wanted to hike a long distance trail and as of now a 2000+ mile journey is not in the picture. I was contemplating this trail or the Long Trail in Vermont. Having time this summer I decided I would make the trek to California because Vermont is so close to me that I could always section hike the Long Trail. I looked at hundreds of photos of the JMT as well as watched documentaries including Mile…Mile and a Half which was my final push to do it!

Photo credit: The Muir Project

Last modified: November 28, 2014

One Response to :
JMT Pre Hike FAQs

  1. Rachel N. says:

    That’s my witty sister! Love it!

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