With declaring a large goal, the first thing you want to do is ensure you follow through. The second thing that happens (to me at least!) is pure, adrenaline pumping anxiety and manic thoughts; what do I need to do? How do I need to do it? How do I make sure it’s right? Can I do this? Can WE do this?
Of course those questions keep you (aka: me) awake, literally all night long. Since I’ve posted about our desire and our plan to hike the entire John Muir Trail in 2 summers from now, I have been wide awake until nearly 4am every morning obsessively researching, watching YouTube videos and interrogating Instagram/Facebook friends and strangers that have completed it in it’s whole or who have done sections.
Thoughts I’ve established over the last week:
We have ultimately come to the realization we will have to start at Mount Whitney and head Northbound to Yosemite Valley. That’s great and all, but starting a month long, strenuous hike at the highest point in the lower 48 means acclimating to the elevation, knocking out the absolute most difficult sections in the first 4 days of our trip. Do I even have that in me? Climbing uphill with little oxygen when I can barely climb uphill with all the oxygen? Is this a joke?
I’ll tell you what the joke is. Obtaining a JMT permit from Yosemite. How is there not a better system!? I understand the desire and the growing fascination with backcountry hiking. I fell into it as well. I also understand protecting the integrity of the trail and not sending 70,000 people one way at a time. But my goodness. Planning for this trip is hard enough, but not being guaranteed a spot when you have to practically fight to take off work is horrifying.
Then comes buying better gear. Do I have backpacking gear? Oh, please. I’m a hoarder about it. Do I have a baseweight of 12 pounds? LOLNO. So now comes the purchase of some better UL gear; a new tent we can easily carry for 25 days (I’m really leaning towards Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2), a new sleeping bag and probably pad for ME (suggestions please!) as B (the human space heater) should be fine with his heavier REI Trail Pod 29, and the investment in appropriate jackets.
We also need 2 bear canisters, decent trekking poles and to begin a pretty lengthy strength and distance training regimen. (The upside is, now I can happily donate my used things to Gear Forward!) Gear is one thing, a months worth of food for 2 people is another. We will have to resupply at least twice, if not three times along the trail. I am choosing to send a few buckets out, not caring of the shipping cost (also a potential for it to get lost en route so I’ve read/watched…) and having them brought in to us on trail so we don’t have to leave and hitch into towns.
We also need to save the money to get us out there and back, have enough socked away to ensure all of our bills are paid for the month we’ll be gone, set up care for our two dogs, and try not to kill each other as we take on what will most likely be the most challenging thing we’ve ever set ourselves up for.
Does all of this stress me out? IMMENSELY. Does it also fill me with extreme excitement and pride knowing that I WILL follow through with this, no matter how scary and daunting and awful the preparation will surely be? So much. This is the trip of a lifetime. It’s an opportunity anyone should take if they are able. I am petrified.
Brace yourselves over the next 2 years for me to be just as annoying as I usually am about these things, but with a dose of extra annoying because HOLY CRAP. JMT!
In the meantime, today I will be cleaning my house and packing as we leave for Yosemite and beyond on Wednesday! We will be trying something new and vlogging this trip, as well as making the usual post-trip entry here but that will likely be less detailed since we are going to share a LOT on YouTube. I can’t wait to get out to California and spend the next week on the road to Rainier!