Well, it is now two weeks before I start my hike on the John Muir Trail and I’ve still done little in terms of my physical conditioning. I say that, but I’m actually getting heavier by the day, so perhaps my physical conditioning is making some progress, albeit it in the wrong direction.
Despite that little planning wrinkle, I’m paying close attention to building my kit to reflect the difference between the Appalachian Trail and the JMT. I bought a sheet of Tyvek. This is normally used to wrap and protect houses as they are being built. I’ll be using mine as a ground sheet under my tent. On the A.T. I pitched my tent directly on the ground, causing a few punctures that have now been repaired. The Tyvek sheet will help keep me dry from below and it is hardy enough to minimize those punctures.
I also had to buy a bear canister. These are mandatory on the JMT for, I presume, fairly obvious reasons. The days of hanging my food bag in a tree are over. The box that the canister arrived in had spooky-looking pictures of confused bears trying to find their way into the canister. The lid of this one doubles as a cookpot, so that saves me some additional weight.
I was intending to buy a waterproof and shockproof case for my phone after the debacle of my iPhone on the A.T. However, the cost of $80 seemed a little excessive so I passed. Literally less than an hour later, I saw the case offered by Groupon for half price, so that has now been added to my kit. I’m guessing that Facebook “saw” what I was looking for online and provided me with the means to buy it cheaper. This may be a little bit too much Big Brother for most people but, if it saves me $40, then happy days.
One major plus has been a loaned gadget from a friend. This is a Spot Gen3, which will ease Diane’s mind about where exactly her husband is every night.
The device is a GPS tracker that plots a precise location through satellites. Every night, as I reach camp, I will turn on the tracker and, once it syncs with a satellite, it will send an email with a pre-written message. This says something like, “Going well, missing you. xxxx” The email will also contain my co-ordinates and Diane will be able to link to a map that shows exactly where I am. I’ll probably send one in the morning as well, if only to prove that I survived the night. Then there is a custom message that says “Delayed a little, we’re fine. Xxxx” Finally, the last message is “Had a few problems, nothing to worry about. I’ll tell you about it when I can get to a phone. Xxxx” As you’d imagine, if I pressed the button for that one, Diane would come out to California and track me down. I can almost guarantee that I won’t be pressing that button. Last, there is an alarm button that sends my location to the emergency services. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen either, though I’d be more inclined to press that one than the previous one.
There is apparently quite a bit of snow through the high passes on the John Muir Trail this year, so I took the extra precaution of getting some snow chains for my boots. They are a bit like the snow chains you fit to your car, giving the necessary traction I’ll need to get through those passes.
Some of the clothes I used on the A.T. are adequate for this hike—apart from the slightly musty odor—so I didn’t need to buy too much else, other than a pair of hiking pants and a couple of pairs of wicking underpants. I’ll be using my two Family Partnership Center shirts from our 5K runs, so the blue theme will continue as I reassume the mantle of Mighty Blue. That transition will take place in a week or so, as I choose between the shiny bald look or the less scary buzz cut. I think I’ll start with the buzz cut to see how that looks before finally committing myself.
Keep on, keeping on.