Dave and Carol Vallett completed the John Muir Trail in August 2014. This blog is our way of giving something back to help others plan and complete their journey in a safe and thoroughly enjoyable fashion, with respect for the unique landscape and those who steward it. We are both engineers and educators and thus tend to be thorough planners (sometimes maybe over-thinking things just a bit …) who enjoy sharing our knowledge. Dave is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist and running coach.
Our JMT hike was magical – an experience we’ll remember with pride, fondness, exhilaration, and a sense of accomplishment the rest of our lives. For the most part, our planning and training worked out quite well. We finished on schedule with no lasting injuries. Prior to this trek we’d traveled the world, done triathlons, run marathons up Swiss mountains, hiked and backpacked throughout the US West, East, and the European Alps and Carpathians. The JMT eclipses them all. We miss being out there almost every day.
The famous runner and cardiologist George Sheehan said “We are each an experiment of one.” Our bodies react in often unique ways to physical and physiological stress. Training for and completing a hike like the JMT certainly classifies as that type of stress. While everyone is different we obviously share similarities. Here are some details about us and our hike that will add context to the information throughout this blog:
- Our age (during the hike): almost 58.
- Training: running, biking, swimming, strength training, day hikes with weighted packs in Vermont (details here).
- Most difficult backpacking experience prior to JMT: longest treks – 6-7 days/45-50 miles; elevations – 4000 – 13000 ft.; locations – US Rockies & Wind River Range, WY.
- JMT dates and duration: July 29 through August 25, 2014; 28 days.
- Starting point: Happy Isles, Yosemite NP.
- 2014 was a very low-snow year. We crossed no snow fields, had only one creek crossing without boots, and encountered few mosquitoes.
- From the start to just past Red’s Meadow we had a good deal of smoke from the El Portal fire.
- In the second week we encountered almost daily thunderstorms with lightning, hail, and rain.
- Resupplies (4): Tuolumne Meadows, Red’s Meadow, Muir Trail Ranch, Onion Valley.
- Pack weight: ~ 35 lbs +/- depending on distance from most-recent resupply.