- John Muir Trail Date Set, Permit Reserved
- John Muir Trail Planning
- John Muir Trail Packing List
- John Muir Trail Journal
- John Muir Trail Day 1: Yosemite Valley to Clouds Rest Junction
- John Muir Trail Day 2: Clouds Rest Junction to Half Dome to Sunrise Creek Crossing
- John Muir Trail Day 3: Sunrise Creek Crossing to Lower Cathedral Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 4: Lower Cathedral Lake to Tuolumne Meadows
- John Muir Trail Day 5: Tuolumne Meadows to Donohue Pass
- John Muir Trail Day 6: Donohue Pass to Thousand Island Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 7: Thousand Island Lake to Rosalie Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 8: Rosalie Lake to Reds Meadow
- John Muir Trail Day 9: Reds Meadow to Deer Creek
- John Muir Trail Day 10: Deer Creek to Cascade Valley Junction
- John Muir Trail Day 11: Cascade Valley Junction to Silver Pass to Vermilion Valley Resort
- John Muir Trail Day 12: Vermilion Valley Resort
- John Muir Trail Day 13: Vermilion Valley Resort to Marie Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 14: Marie Lake to Selden Pass to Muir Trail Ranch
- John Muir Trail Day 15: Muir Trail Ranch to McClure Meadow
- John Muir Trail Day 16: McClure Meadow to Muir Pass to Lake West of Helen Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 17: Lake West of Helen Lake to Deer Meadow
- John Muir Trail Day 18: Deer Meadow to Mather Pass to Main South Fork Kings Crossing
- John Muir Trail Day 19: Main South Fork Kings Crossing to Pinchot Pass to Woods Creek
- John Muir Trail Day 20: Woods Creek to Glen Pass to Vidette Meadow
- John Muir Trail Day 21: Vidette Meadow to Forester Pass to Bighorn Plateau
- John Muir Trail Day 22: Bighorn Plateau to Guitar Lake
- John Muir Trail Day 23: Guitar Lake to Mount Whitney to Whitney Portal
- John Muir Trail: Post Trip Thoughts
Journal entry for September 8, 2009
Approximate distance hiked: 16.8 miles, 27.0 km
The last day of an amazing journey. I was expecting a cold night camping at this high altitude but it wasn’t that bad. It got really windy around 1-2am and I thought a storm was coming. I had the the alarm to 5am but woke up a bit before that.
It was still dark outside. I looked around and the views were stunning. I was surrounded by huge peaks with hundreds of stars as backdrop. I packed everything up, filtered 2 liters of water, took out the last of my Snickers and Cliff bars to put them in the backpack’s side pocket and started the hike up to Whitney. It was imperative that I didn’t waste time and make sure I finished the 17 miles for the day around 3-4pm to allow me enough time to find a ride to Lone Pine.
Looking up the trail, I saw a single flashlight followed by two other ones. I later found out they were Peter, Ross and Marty. I caught up to them shortly before Trail Junction. As the sun came up, it revealed dramatic sights everywhere, especially the reflections on Hitchcock Lakes.
At Trail Junction, most people decide to leave their backpacks here instead of taking them up to Mount Whitney. I decided to carry mine since I didn’t have a daypack and had no convenient way to carry water, camera, snacks and the SPOT Satellite Messenger. Also by this point, having consumed almost all of my 10-day food supply, the backpack was feeling pretty light. We saw a good number of people coming up the opposite way, from Whitney Portal. They must have started pretty early to be at Trail Junction by this time.
After the short break, I started the final ascent to Mount Whitney. The way they carved out the trail on the steep rocky walls on the mountain is really a piece of engineering.
I was feeling great physically and the 2 miles to the top felt pretty easy. After weeks being above 10,000 feet, my body was well acclimatized. I made sure to savor the last few hundred feet before the summit.
After 23 days and about 220 miles, I had finally reached Mount Whitney (14,505 ft, 4,421 m), which is where the JMT officially ends. There is a registry for hikers to sign and I got the pleasure to start a new page in it. I signed: “9/8/09 – Kevin Yang – Diamond Bar, CA – Just finished the JMT. A trip of a lifetime”. A very emotional moment.
There were about 15 people already on the summit. There’s a lot to see in all 360 degrees. Lone Pine and the road to it can be seen to the east. Guitar Lake to the west.
After spending a good hour and a half on top, I started making my way down around 10:30am. There was still 12.5 miles to go with a 6,000 foot descent. By now, hordes of people were coming up, most of them doing a brutal 1-day up and down hike from Whitney Portal. It seems torturous to me and I don’t know if I’d want to, or be able to do it. One gentleman going up asked me to relay a message to his girlfriend who was behind, telling her that he was going up to the summit and couldn’t wait for her any longer or else none of them were going to make it to the top. He wanted her to wait for him at Trail Junction. I later found her coming up the “99 Switchbacks”.
My JMT wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Czechs one last time. We run into each other right before I got down to Trail Junction, as they were going up. Having fallen behind earlier in their hike, they were now more than on schedule to catch their flight back to Europe. We exchanged emails and said goodbye one last time.
Just when I thought there were no more uphill climbs, there was one last short one right after Trail Junction up to Trail Crest (13,650 ft, 4,461 m). It was short but exhausting.
I made my way down the famous (and dreaded) 99 Switchbacks. Going down was easy, but climbing up must be brutal. It was already around 1pm and there were still lots of people going up. Unfortunately, I think most of them were not going to be able to make it to the summit and back to Whitney Portal before dark.
With about 4 miles to go I got really hungry. People kept telling me about the wonderful cheeseburgers at Whitney Portal and I was trying to hurry and make it there as quickly as possible. I decided to stop an eat the last of my food because I wasn’t enjoying the hike anymore, and I really wanted to enjoy the last few miles of this amazing journey.
I run into Marty and Ross and hiked the last mile with them. I was experiencing the same mixed feeling I got the previous night. I was happy and satisfied to be finishing the JMT, but at the same time I was sad it was coming to an end.
I arrived at Whitney Portal around 4pm with a big smile on my face. I weighted my backpack at the scale. With 9 days of trash, my backpack weighted 17 lbs (7.7 kg).
Once at the store, I got a cheeseburger, fries, and 2 beers and shared a table with Peter, Marty, Ross, Carla and Gavin. Having eaten only 2 hours before, I wasn’t really that hungry. After stuffing myself, it was time to look for a ride to Lone Pine. I went to the parking lot exit and on my first try, a very nice family of four stopped and picked me up. The father had just hiked up to Mt. Whitney and down all in one day. He was impressed by what I did but I really think going up and down 20+ miles, 6000 feet in elevation in one day and all by 4pm is a more impressive feat. They were very pleasant and we had a nice chat on the way to Lone Pine. I feel really bad for not remembering their names.
Once in Lone Pine, I got a room at Trails Motel for $85 the night. I took a shower right away and must have washed off 1 pound of dirt from my body. Looking in the mirror, I realized that I had lost a lot of upper body muscle. I weighted myself at home the following day and found out I had lost 10 lbs.
Peter, Marty, Ross, Carla and Gavin and I met up at the Pizza Factory for one more meal. Again, I wasn’t that hungry but ate anyways. Afterward, I went to the drugstore and got me a bunch of sweets, which is what I was really craving for. Back at the motel, I washed my clothes so that I can at least look (and smell) civilized the following day on my trip home. I stayed up until 1am watching crap on TV.
One would think that I would sleep soundly in a comfortable bed after being in the backcountry for 23 days, but I kept waking up all night. I think my body had gotten used to and was missing the sleeping bag and mat.
For the last couple of days I slowly read through your adventure. It was like a good book; soon after I went off to do something else, I wanted to get back and see what was next. The pictures and videos added a lot to the story. This is one I hike I plan on doing someday when I can find the time. Very inspiring!
Rick, thanks for the kind words. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this.
I appreciated reading your trail tales, I had completed the last leg of your journey, guitar lake to Mt whitney peak back in summer of 2005….the great pics brought some grueling albeit great memories…
That last leg is indeed brutal.
Queria saber si cunado se hace la JMuir es necesario el solictar el permios de subida a monte Withey, soy de las ISlas Canarias, Spain y me estoy palnteando realizar un viaje para hacer esta ruta en el 2011/2012 ya que soy monta?ero y me atrae esta ruta, espero que me pueda enviar su repsuesta…
Hola Jose. Depende de por donde empiezes. Si empiezas por el norte, solamente necesitas un permiso para empezar por Yosemite Valley. El permiso tiene que ser para “Happy Isles–>Sunrise/Merced Lake (pass through)”. Cuando retiras el permiso, te van a preguntar por donde vas a terminar el viaje. Ahi le dices “Whitney Portal” y listo.
Si empiezas por el sur, ahi si tienes que conseguir permiso para Mt Whitney. Por lo que tengo entendido, es por loteria y mucho mas dificil de conseguir.
Si tienes mas preguntas, estoy aqui para ayudarte.
Echoing what Rick said in the first comment, I really enjoyed the narrative of your expedition. Hiking the JMT is on my ‘bucket list’ of things to do. I’ve recently read quite a few blogs in which people have chronicled their full trip. Yours is the best one I’ve seen.
Brian, thank you very much for your kind words, and I’m glad you enjoyed this journal.
Just spent my entire day at work reading through your story. I plan on hiking the JMT in Sept 2012 and wish that time was already here!!! Great job and I plan to write a very similar story!
Hahahaha. I’m glad my blog is contributing to workplace productivity. Have fun on the JMT and please come back here afterwards and post a link to your journal.
Kevin, thank you so much for documenting your time on the JMT! My husband and I are planning to take a road trip across the US, hiking in various national parks and the JMT is about halfway through the trip. We intend to hike the entire JMT. I’m nervous because I have never done anything like this but I have been preparing for months now so hopefully it won’t be too much of a shock. I like the pace you took and it seems doable for me. Any anxiety I had about hiking the JMT was washed away by the words you used to describe your experience and the incredible pictures you posted. Thank you again, this was extremely helpful to me. Happy and safe travels in the future!
Jessi, thank you for your kind words.
I was almost a newbie when I tackled the JMT back in 2009. It is really a very enjoyable trail that is very well constructed and maintained. It’s long, but never too hard. Whoever designed it knew what they were doing. Take your time to do it (especially at the beginning) and you’ll have an amazing time.
Hey Kevin, great travelogue. My friend Tim and I hiked the JMT about four weeks before you, and had many similar experiences. I see from your photos that we camped at some of the exact same campsites as you did. Thanks for taking the time and effort to chronicle your journey; it brought back many memories for me.
One of those memories is the incredible food cravings that develop. I had very carefully planned all our meals, wanting a nice mix of carbs, fats, and proteins. I have found that not much fat is necessary on a long hiking trip, as your body will access your stored fat if you have enough carbs to burn it. That explains your crazy sweet tooth–your body needs a slow trickle of carbs to keep the fat burning going. Since I had found this out on previous long trips, I packed us plenty of carbs, but found I was craving meat and fresh greens like crazy. After our trip was over, I think I ate KFC coleslaw everyday for a week, and craved eggs for breakfast for about a month. BTW, I lost 7 pounds on my trip.
Thanks again for the memories.
Hi Patrick. Thanks for the comment. Since the JMT I have gotten better at planning my food for long hikes. I’d probably guess that 70% of my trail food is sweets now. By the way, that extreme sweet tooth that I developed hasn’t gone away. I still have it to this day.
Kevin, WOW great blog!! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
Me (soon to be 50) and my son ( soon to be 16) will both be doing this amazing trip Aug of 2014.
Its so funny on planning this. A year away and i find my self waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts running through my head. Im going to need this or that. will I have enough food to get from here to there?
I can`t wait for this trip to come. Like you said there is so many beautiful sites to see.
We are going to try and do our best to do it in 21 days. We will see.
Hi Guy. Yes, planning for it is half of the fun. 21 days I think is the perfect amount of time, but if you can take have even more days, that’d be even better. You could always do a few side trips with the extra time. One thing you don’t want to do is to always feel that you are in a hurry to move on because of limited time. Sometimes you find a spot you really enjoy and just want to stay there for a couple of hours to take it all in. Good luck on the hike!
I’m planning on a horse trip to Guitar Lake in August of 2014 with a full day to hike up and back from there. Can you tell me the distance and difficulty of this roundtrip? Thanks. I also appreciated your writeup and the beautiful photos.
Hi Tom, thanks for your kind words. The round trip from Guitar Lake to Mt. Whitney is 7-8 miles. Depending on your physical condition and acclimatization, it could be from moderate to difficult. It’s 3,000 feet up, from around 11,500 to 14,500 ft, so it does require some effort.