Monday, March 17, 2014

Planning Our Itinerary

JMT is different from any longer distance backpacking/trekking we have done so far. Unlike our previous trips where we had reservation for a particular camp or hut each night, here we only have the first night arranged in Little Yosemite Valley Camp. From there on it will be up to us to decide how far we want to walk each day and where we crush for the night.  It certainly is good to have this freedom; however there are hundreds of amazing camping possibilities along the trail, and choosing the 19 that appeal to us most was nearly impossible task.

There are many planning tools available for the JMT. I used information provided in guide book by Elizabeth Wenk: John Muir Trail - The Essential Fuide to Hiking America's Most Famous Trail as a base for a spreadsheet of all available campsites and their elevation data. 

On the same spreadsheet I marked the mountain passes we will cross and side trips we might consider taking. This breakdown of the trail made it relatively easy to come up with reasonable daily mileage and elevation gain.

Once I knew where on the trail we think we might be in the evening of each day, I compared all the sites near to that point and chose the one that best described ideal camping place =  close to a water source, and of course having views. The more views, the better. In short, this is what we're hoping for.

08/03/2014 Day 1 - 4.4 miles (+ Half Dome climb)
08/04/2014 Day 2 - 13.4 miles
08/05/2014 Day 3 - 14.8 miles
08/06/2014 Day 4 - 12.9 miles
08/07/2014 Day 5 - 13.2 miles
08/08/2014 Day 6 - 11.4 miles
08/09/2013 Day 7 - 10.5 miles
08/10/2014 Day 8 - 8.5 miles (+ 1.5 miles to VVR)
08/11/2014 Day 9 - Rest day
08/12/2014 Day 10 - 9.9 miles (+ 1.5 miles from VVR)
08/13/2014 Day 11 - 11.3 miles
08/14/2014 Day 12 - 9 miles
08/15/2014 Day 13 - 13.2 miles
08/16/2014 Day 14 - 12.1 miles
08/17/2014 Day 15 - 11.8 miles
08/18/2014 Day 16 - 10.1 miles
08/19/2014 Day 17 - 9.6 miles
08/20/2014 Day 18 - 9.5 miles
08/21/2014 Day 19 - 13.4 miles
08/22/2014 Day 20 - 6.8 miles (if weather is questionable or 10.7 miles if camping atop Whitney)
08/23/2014 Day 21 - 7.8 miles (or 11.7 miles depending on previous day camping spot)
08/24/2014 Day 22 - Hitchhike to Lone Pine

But while I am a planner, I am also a realist. I know we might not be able to stick with our itinerary. Blisters, for example, could greatly slow us progress. So could we get delayed by a raging storm over a mountain pass. Or the site I hope for might be already claimed. Or hundreds of other things can cross our plans. This is when flexibility becomes truly valuable. It will be alright if somewhere en route we end up changing our plans. After all  it is the uncertainty that makes long distance hiking appealing. 

Only 138 days to go....

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