Yosemite

“I’m the meanest, roughest, toughest, hombre that’s ever crossed the Rio Grande – and I ain’t no namby-bamby.”  Yosemite Sam

Yosemite.  That word has captured my imagination ever since I could say the word.  It spoke of an iconic place, a special place, a beautiful place and it was a long way away.  Yosemite Sam only added to it’s wild and untamed allure.  It took me 65 years to finally get there.  The picture above is Doris and I crossing Donohue Pass into the Yosemite Wilderness.

This is the itinerary of our final leg of our JMT hike in Sept 2019.  See previous posts for the first 2 sections. Continue reading Yosemite

Into The Wild

“That’s what was great about him.  He tried.  Not many do.” 

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

Perhaps some people think that a couple of 65 year old people hiking the John Muir Trail are out of their mind, and if not successful, would criticize all of the decisions that were made, just like many critics of Chris McCandless in the book Into the Wild.

We were those 65 year old people and while we think we make rational decisions and plan our way carefully you never know all the variables that can confront you when you are all alone in the wilderness.

The first leg of our journey (see previous post) didn’t seem like we were too far removed from civilization and we’ve done lot’s of 5 to 8 day backpack trips before.  Plus, our son accompanied us on the first leg so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary.  Heading into the second and third leg of our journey was a lot more sobering … it seemed that we were in fact going “into the wild” … a longer stretch, more remote than anything we had ever done before.

Here’s our itinerary for the second leg.

Continue reading Into The Wild

Never Say Never

“I don’t think we’ll ever be back.”  Victor Doerksen (age 65), September 26, 2019

We completed our John Muir Trail hike on Sept 26, 2019 at Tuolumne Meadows.  We had been on the trail for 19 hiking days and had finished the journey we had set out to accomplish.  It all hits when you stop: muscles begin to seize up; you feel dirty, ugly, smelly and unkempt; tiredness gets the best of you; you just want out.  We were done … we had done it … we were completely satisfied … we had been on a journey that very few people on earth get to make … we were both 65 … it’s not likely that we will ever do this trail again … there are lots of other places on earth to see.

Never Say Never:  It’s now 6 months since we completed our hike and I think I would like to hike the JMT again … crazy eh?  It would be especially fun to see it through another first timers eyes and experience it all over again.

In the meantime …. this post, and the next two, are mainly about our itinerary.   I found it very helpful to read about other hikers experiences and plans and I studied their itineraries in detail as I planned our own.  There are far fewer itinerary’s for those going south to north … so, maybe this will help you.

Our Basic Plan:

  • South to North.
  • Cottonwood Meadows, via Cottonwood Pass to Tuolumne Meadows.
  • Mount Whitney was not in our plans.
  • Sept 7, 2019 to Sept 26, 2019.
  • 2 Resupply points.

Continue reading Never Say Never

Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine

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“How old do you think I am?” he said
I said, well, I don’t know
He said, “I turned 65 about 11 months ago.”
I was sittin’ in Miami pourin’ blended whiskey down
When this old gray black gentleman was cleanin’ up the lounge
There wasn’t anyone around ‘cept this old man and me
The guy who ran the bar was watchin’ “Ironsides” on TV
Uninvited, he sat down and opened up his mind
On old dogs and children and watermelon wine.

Tom T Hall

I turned 65 about 10 months ago, and uninvited, I share my mind on old hikers, the John Muir Trail, and visiting Lone Pine. Continue reading Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine

Why?

The “rocks” were just out of town in the coulee.  I spent hours as a young boy on the “rocks” carving initials in the sandstone,  then wandering around the coulee eventually making my way down to Kneehill Creek to investigate the goings on of its meanderings.  Perhaps this is where my love of hiking and backpacking began.

Why do I spend multiple days at a time in a tent, sleeping on the ground, walking along trails that have no purpose? It’s a good question.

Continue reading Why?

These Boots Were Made For Walking

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest … and moss will grow on your boots, and you will go nowhere fast.”  Proverbs 6:10 (Victors paraphrase) 

According to the West Coast Trail preparation guide: “High quality hiking boots with good ankle support and arch support are required”.  With treachery a potential in every step this is good advice for hiking the West Coast Trail … and I followed this advice on my first 7 West Coast Trail hikes.  WCT hike numbers 8 and 9 are a different story.   Continue reading These Boots Were Made For Walking

Anticipation

“You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so … get on your way!”  Dr. Suess

It doesn’t get old … in less than 2 weeks I will be heading out on my 9th West Coast Trail backpacking trip.  As I wait in anticipation and the days to hike draw ever closer a kind of inertia sets in.  I will myself to complete the tasks at work and clear up the last minute items on the to-do list so that I will not be missed or leave anyone in the lurch … but my heart just isn’t there … it’s already on the trail. Continue reading Anticipation

Strawberry Cienaga

Strawberry Cienaga sounds like an exotic dessert with strawberries bathed by scrumptious creamy whipped topping, perhaps with sprinkles of chocolate, completed by a touch of Cointreau … except, it isn’t.

We passed through or by Strawberry Cienaga on our latest Section hike on the PCT.  From the hot, windy desert floor to the snow obliterated trail on the high reaches of the PCT on Mt. San Jacinto we climbed.  We found neither strawberries, nor a cienaga.   Continue reading Strawberry Cienaga

Not a Bucket List

I don’t have a bucket list … in fact I think it’s a dumb concept.  It reminds me of tourists who jump out of cars or descend from their tour bus and take a picture of a mountain, a famous building, a statute, or something else of renown and 5 minutes later are on to their next destination.  Only to check it off a list?  Pitiful.

It’s actually a pet peeve of mine with some who hike the West Coast Trail.  They come to conquer the trail, to knock it off in 3, 4 or 5 days, to report with pride that they’ve completed the famous West Coast Trail.  They’ll speak of cable cars, stream crossings, mud bogs, ladders that reach to the sky, walking across log bridges, and boulders that are as big as houses … and they cross it off their list.

It’s not a trail only to conquer, impressive as that is; it’s an experience, a memory, an adventure. Continue reading Not a Bucket List