Friday, June 14, 2013

Tom Fassbender's JMT hike

I'm completely loving Tom Fassbender's awesome series of articles about his three week epic hike on the John Muir Trail in June, 2012.

His writing style is great; I love the links to gear, locations, and background information, and the pictures are a lot of fun, too!

Here are the articles in his "2012 John Muir Trail Adventure" series:

  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day One
    I talked briefly to a group of hikers headed toward Yosemite. They were complaining of the mosquitoes, which I didn’t think were that bad. (But they were going to get a lot worse before this hike was over).
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Two
    I thought for a moment that maybe it was a bear until it heard me and looked up. It was just a mule deer. The deer along the trail, especially the does, proved to be almost totally unafraid of humans. It was kind of like being in a petting zoo.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Three
    A bit about trail names.

    There are rules to these things.

    1. You can’t name yourself.
    2. You can’t decline a trail name.
    3. It should have some meaning and/or describe you, be it a good thing, a bad thing, or just a humorous thing.
    4. Once you have one, you’re stuck with it for life and it follows you from trail to trail
    Not all who have trail names abide by these rules, but everyone I talked to who used a trail name earned them by these rules.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Four
    As I crossed a bridge into the heart of the monument, I ran into a day hiker from the nearby campsite. He was the first person I’d seen in about 24 hours. It had been a strange kind of solitude that I didn’t even think about until I saw this guy.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Five
    After a relentless climb and countless downed trees, I made it to as series of lakes named for what white people thought of as traditional roles for the Native American people.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Six
    I talked with other hikers. We talked trail conditions, the gear we used, crazy things we’d seen, other hikers we’d met. This is when I learned about Tuna Helper‘s bid to set a PCT speed record. There was also talk of a hiker who wore different wedding dresses along the trail. He’d wear an old wedding dress for a certain amount of distance depending on how much you paid him. You’d get a picture of course. Somehow we missed each other on the trail. I would have enjoyed seeing that.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Seven
    I skipped my usual lunch, instead enjoying Fritos and Peanut M&Ms. This is the point when the meals started blending together, and I’d switch it up (like soup for breakfast and oatmeal for dinner) to keep things from getting too boring.

    A bit about Fritos

    One of the greatest hiking foods of all time! Per bag, 1,760 calories, 990 of that from fat. Plus a good amount of sodium. These things keep your motor running! And they’re great kindling.

  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Eight (I've hiked parts of this section myself!)
    Seriously. I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful this place is. And I’m not a good enough photographer (I’m sure you’ve realized that by now) to capture it in photos. But this place was majestic, easily the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day Nine
    It’s hard to get here, about two (if you’re fast) or three days worth of hiking from any sort of civilization. Most people won’t ever see this with their own eyes.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day 10
    Ah yes, the Golden Staircase. This was the last section of the John Muir Trail to be finished, and it wasn’t complete until 1938, some 23 years after construction of the trail had officially begun.

    I don’t know why it’s called the Golden Staircase. It’s not golden, and it’s not really a staircase. Instead, it’s a arduous stretch of rocky trail that switchbacks its way up to the Palisade Lakes.

  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day 11
    He asked where I was going. I told him. He asked if I knew where the pass was. I told him not exactly, but it was up there somewhere. I pointed to the ridge way up ahead and high above us.

    He nodded. Yeah, see than snow field? Yep. That dark line across it, that’s footprints in the snow that lead right up to the pass.

  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day 12
    At Wright Creek, I ran into a group of about five really stoned hikers. Some of them were in their underwear. They quickly pointed out to me that it was Hike Naked Day (it is also Hike Naked Day when this post was published). I didn’t know there was a thing, and I’m glad they weren’t totally naked, but I’m glad they told me about it. I realized then that I had no idea what had happened for the past week, and even then, the news was sporadic at best. The world could have been overrun by zombies and I wouldn’t have known.
  • John Muir Trail Adventure Journal: Day 13
    And then it was over. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon. I got to the Whitney Portal Store, ordered myself a giant hamburger with fries and drank a 22-ounce bottle of Stone Smoked Porter.

What a wonderful report; thank you so much, Tom!

I can't wait to read more of your "trail adventures" in the future.

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