July 27, 2010

JMT: The road to Yosemite

This is the first part of the JMT trip report. Before you start a 222+ mile through hike in California, there are some logistics to take care of. Primarily: 1) getting to California, 2) dropping a car at the end of the trail, and 3) getting to the start of the trail. It took us 4 solid days to accomplish all these tasks.

We started off from SLC the evening of July 9th with the intention of camping and climbing Mt. Nebo the next morning. We camped, but during the night I realized that my air pad had a hole in it, so we abandoned the Nebo plans the next morning in search of an REI. Luckily we were headed towards Las Vegas to stay with my aunt, so the REI in Vegas was able to swap out a new pad for me.

Neither Andrea or I had ever been to Las Vegas before, so despite the 115 degree temperatures, we decided to walk the strip and check out the sights. We ended up walking right into a taping for Shaquille O'Neals reality show; he was squaring off against Joey Chestnut in a hot dog eating contest. Only in Vegas, I guess. We each gambled $1 and decided that Vegas wasn't the place for us.

After a great night of visiting with my Aunt Kristy and her family (and delicious Chinese food), we drove across Death Valley to Lone Pine, CA. Andrea checked into the hostel with our backpacks while I drove the car 12 miles up to Whitney Portal (the end of the trail), then ran back to Lone Pine. We spend the night in the small eastern CA town (Subway for dinner), and took the 6am bus to Mammoth Lakes CA the following morning.

The bus schedules in the eastern sierra region don't quite line up right, so we spent the entire day of July 12th in Mammoth Lakes, which is a beautiful town. We went for a real nice run, then sent some time walking around the village and the lakes nearby. Pizza and ice cream were devoured for dinner (our last real meal before reaching Yosemite).

On Tuesday July 13th we took the YARTS bus up to Yosemite, arriving in the valley around 11am. We immediately went to the wilderness office and tried to get a permit to leave that afternoon, but the ranger couldn't get us anything until the following day. So, we got our backcountry permit to depart Happy Isles on July 13th, then proceeded to spend the rest of the day milling about Yosemite, checking out the waterfalls and beautiful vistas. We setup camp in the backpacker's campground, anxious to get started the next day.

Over these few days, despite the incredible amount of training Andrea and I had done over the past 5-6 weeks, we both started to doubt our ability to carry heavy backpacks for 20 miles a day. Our shoulders hurt just walking from the bus stop in Mammoth Lakes to the Motel 6 (about a half mile!). We agreed that the first day would probably be the hardest, and that we'd aim for a conservative goal of 15-17 miles for the first day on the trail.

We had no idea how the adrenaline and excitement of the next day would change that plan. We also didn't quite realize just how good of aerobic shape we really were in.

Last meal before we hit the road: FUN MUNCH!

We stopped for a run in St. George. It was incredibly hot, so afterwards we bought a 12-pack of Mike & Ike popsicles, gave half of them to a family in the grocery store, and then ate the other half ourselves.

I can't believe we were in Vegas

And there is Shaq!

Shaq and Joey Chestnut getting ready for the hot dog duel

Andrea and I near Treasure Island

Enchanted Unicorn? Thats worth wasting a dollar!

Her turn to spend a buck

Andrea, Fluffers the puppy, and my cousin Savannah

Savannah lifting a 37 lb pack!

With my Aunt Kristy and Savannah

The drive through Death Valley

It reached about 120 degrees while we were driving

Lone Pine, CA

The Whitney Portal hostel that we stayed at

Hanging out in Mammoth Lakes

Enjoying an easy day in Mammoth

Look at the size of those pine cones!

Pizza time!!!

I have become a fan of the McDonalds $1 sundae

Waiting for the bus to Yosemite

Here it is!

At the Yosemite wilderness office; Andrea's pack weighed in at 27 lbs, mine weighed in at 37 lbs

The Royal Arches

Half Dome

Yosemite Falls

Another shot of Half Dome

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