This hike over July 4th was our last training hike before our planned 10 day hike of the end of the John Muir Trail(to Whitney Portal)
I was able to get my backpack down to 35 to 43lbs depending on how much water I was carrying, and 7lbs for the fanny pack, while Jennifer's backpack was down to 20-25lbs depending on the water. Those were reasonable weights considering that they included a bulky bear vault 400 and an ursack with aluminum liner (we'll need those two to carry enough food for 10 days on our next hike)
Like the previous hikes, I brought the Garmin Vista Cx and the Forerunner 305 as a way to get a real recorded track (see previous comments about the Vista Cx recording crap trails in many cases).
After doing some power math, I decided that my previous solar panel was woefully inadequate, and that the lack of battery to store the solar panel energy for later use, was disqualifying. Instead I brought my flexible solar panels from my ScotteVest and the accompanying lithium ion battery back. But because I'm a moron, I forgot to bring the USB power adapter connector I made, and I had to build one out of a couple of tie wraps and a battery USB charger I had happened to bring (thanks to Jennifer for reminding me that tie wraps were also electrical wires :) )
Unfortunately, some random failure (never figured out what), actually caused my forerunner to go dead after the first night, hence a second day track that isn't as good since it was only recorded on the Vista Cx (fortunately, we mostly were within good reach of GPS signals that second day, so the track isn't too bad). The third day, I was able to run the Forerunner after it miraculously came back to life and I was able to give it enough charge with 4 AAAs to run the 3rd day.
Here are the trip results (I gave the calorie information from the forerunner, but it's way off, I've already told Garmin that they need to rework their algorithm. It's likely off by at least a factor of 2, and their tech support said they only take speed into account, not even heart rate, altitude, or ascents. How lame...)
||Avg Heart Rate
Anyway, for the trip, we flew the previous evening to Mammoth, which took a little less than 2H instead of maybe 6H of driving (you can
see the other pictures of the flight
We got up pretty early the next morning to get the first 07:00 shuttle to Tuolumne Maedows from the far base of Mammoth Mountain (adventure center) and we were at the Devils Postpile just before 08:00. Unfortunately, due to me being a moron, I left my camera in the shuttle and had to run after it for a bit more than a mile. Even without the backpack, running at 7500ft was a good way to get in shape :). Luckily, I did get my camera back and we started on the trail around 09:00.
Since we were there, we first went to check out the Devil Postpile national monument, and it is indeed pretty impressive. Seeing the almost perfect hexagonal shapes on top is pretty nice
After that nice beginning was time to head out for our actual hike to Tuolumne Maedows, and cover the 14+ miles and 3000ft elevation gain ahead of us. While we lost a bit of time due to a clogged water filter problem, and a late departure with my camera issue, we did decent time. We were originally hoping to make it to Thousand Island Lake on the first night, but that was just a bit out of reach. We did however reach Garnett Lake, which was still a good distance (finding a campsite was also a bit hard due to most lakes having lots of rules about where you can't camp).
The starry sky by the water at Garnett Lake was quite nice.
Thankfully we didn't have any problems with the rangers because we didn't have our actual permit with us. After calling 3 times and getting briefings over the phone and 3 people who confirmed our permit would be in the overnight pick up mailbox, it wasn't there we we got there that evening, and we just didn't have the time to wait the next morning for them to open and find out what happened to our permit: we'd have been more than 2 hours behind schedule and would never have made it to anywhere close to Garnett lake. This is kind of sad considering we played by the rules and did everything we could to be legal. At least we had our reservation confirmation with us.
Don't camp here, keep walking...
Oh, there comes my transport team, please carry my bag ;)
That's virtually the only snow left we were able to touch on the trail. It had fast melted
Garnett Lake, our destination for night 1
The red path is portion of what we did on the first day (blue is day 2)
Day 2 was also a good hike. We covered a good amount of terrain. The Highlight of the day was crossing Donahue Pass a bit above 11,000ft. Jennifer had a bit of a hard time part of the day likely due to dehydration and a bit of altitude sickness. I had mild symptoms (light headache) but was ok otherwise. I was hydrating a lot though, so that probably helped.
It was nice to see people on the trail (mostly going the other way), including the insane people who do the whole PCT (Pacific Coast Trail, or 4-5 months of walking 3000 miles).
Once we were past the pass, it was a long and nice downhill to Lyell fork, which we pretty much followed the entire way to Tuolumne Maedows.
We did however stop exactly at our planned stop for the night, along Lyell just down a quite steep 600ft vertical descent a mere 30mn before sunset. That was however probably pushing a bit more than necessary as Jennifer was having some boot/blister issues, and was also fatigued, which is not the best combination when you're fast descending pretty rugged terrain with loose gravel and big steps soon before sunset. We got lucky though and made it down to the forest down to where the water joins the trail again just in time to set camp before sunset. This also gave us a campsite with fewer mosquitoes than the foot bridge area higher up where we could also have camped.
Admittedly, we were a bit close to the water, but we just didn't have the time to go any further and Jennifer was too exhausted to go any further anyway. Regardless, we kept a clean camp site, so it shouldn't matter either way.
Their camp site was not even lose to being legal, but finding the legal ones wasn't easy either
Thousand Island Lake
A long gradual climb to Donahue pass
And here's the other side, finally...
luckily we did this piece going down to the river, it was nice that way :)
Day 3 was smooth sailing. While Jennifer unfortunately had issues with blistered skin going raw right on her ankle, making walking quite painful, moleskin and super glue took care of that. We did some pretty good time still, with 2.6mph moving time and 2.0mph average speed.
By 14:00, we had reached Tuolumne Maedows.
The problem at that point was getting back to Mammoth, and after about 1H of asking, we got lucky and had a nice couple who drove us east on 120 back to 395/Lee Vining.
From there we got a cab back to Mammoth. I opted not to fly back out that day due to some very ugly looking clouds over the Sierras, which made it potentially dicy to fly home, and the fact that by the time the weather improved, I was feeling tired, so we just spend the night at the nice Shilo Inn in Mammoth.
The flight back home the next morning was uneventful.
We learned a few things on this hike. My feet faired much better with sock liners, foot powder, and proper tightening. Jennifer's boots were so so though and she opted to get new ones.
While we covered some good distances at altitude with the weight we were carrying, we also found out that now that I lost some additional weight, I actually do need to eat my daily share of calories, or I get hungry (something that wasn't the case before). We also figured that taking diamox would probably be a good idea for our next trip since we'll be climbing higher and longer. No need to add altitude sickness to the list of challenges if it can be mostly avoided.
For the rest, you can look at all the
pictures of this hike from Devil's Postpile to Tuolumne Maedows
, and you can also
download a garmin gps track along with route and waypoints
Google Earth kml version