Category: Hiking

The Blues Beckon

The first written press about the Blue Mountains Trail came out! Check out this great article in the Baker City Herald:

Four Hikers Complete The New, 566-Mile Blue Mountains Trail

The Blues Beckon

By JAYSON JACOBY Baker City Herald

Renee Patrick started her epic walk through the Blue Mountains in the sweaty heat of July, and she finished it amid the nostril-freezing chill of an alpine autumn.
Along the 566 miles of hiking in between, Patrick was at turns challenged, enlightened and even awed by the eclectic landscapes of Northeast Oregon.

She also made history.

And now, a few months after she finished her trek, Patrick is helping to promote the Blue Mountains Trail, a route she and other proponents hope will join the ranks of America’s other long-distance wilderness paths.

“It’s fun to be at the beginning of an effort like this that people are excited about,” Patrick said in a Jan. 14 phone interview. “It’s exciting for the eastern half of the state to have more recreational opp..

The first written press about the Blue Mountains Trail came out! Check out this great article in the Baker City Herald:

Four Hikers Complete The New, 566-Mile Blue Mountains Trail

The Blues Beckon

  • By JAYSON JACOBY Baker City Herald

Renee Patrick started her epic walk through the Blue Mountains in the sweaty heat of July, and she finished it amid the nostril-freezing chill of an alpine autumn.
Along the 566 miles of hiking in between, Patrick was at turns challenged, enlightened and even awed by the eclectic landscapes of Northeast Oregon.

She also made history.

And now, a few months after she finished her trek, Patrick is helping to promote the Blue Mountains Trail, a route she and other proponents hope will join the ranks of America’s other long-distance wilderness paths.

“It’s fun to be at the beginning of an effort like this that people are excited about,” Patrick said in a Jan. 14 phone interview. “It’s exciting for the eastern half of the state to have more recreational opportunities. Northeast Oregon is not well-known, even by a lot of Oregonians.”

Read the rest here.

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NH 4K: North and South Kinsman via Mount Kinsman Trail (Winter)

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Liam and I wanted to get some more gridding in, and as of late night hikes have been our go to. We commenced our journey from the Mount Kinsman trailhead a little after 3 pm.

It appeared as if there were other people hiking the Kinsmans today. The snow was about an inch deep but packed down. As we climbed higher, we noticed a large family with no traction coming down the trail. We questioned whether they had made it to the top based on their inadequate footwear.

It turns out that they had just gone up to Bald Peak, which was in the clouds anyway. There was a fresh coating of 2 or so inches of trail heading up to the Kinsmans. Shortly after this, Liam switched over to snowshoes but I kept my microspikes on. It wasn't deep enough for me to justify switching at the time.

The snow got a little deeper as we climbed up to the junction with the Kinsman Ridge, but Liam was able to pack nearl..

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Liam and I wanted to get some more gridding in, and as of late night hikes have been our go to. We commenced our journey from the Mount Kinsman trailhead a little after 3 pm.

It appeared as if there were other people hiking the Kinsmans today. The snow was about an inch deep but packed down. As we climbed higher, we noticed a large family with no traction coming down the trail. We questioned whether they had made it to the top based on their inadequate footwear.



It turns out that they had just gone up to Bald Peak, which was in the clouds anyway. There was a fresh coating of 2 or so inches of trail heading up to the Kinsmans. Shortly after this, Liam switched over to snowshoes but I kept my microspikes on. It wasn't deep enough for me to justify switching at the time.


The snow got a little deeper as we climbed up to the junction with the Kinsman Ridge, but Liam was able to pack nearly all of it down for the next people. It's still a little loose but microspikes should suffice for most of the hike.


However, the trail became deeper and deeper with deep snowdrifts just before the summit of South Kinsman. You probably should have snowshoes for this section, but Liam was able to pack down some of it.

It was likely in the low teens, but I never felt too cold. It made for a perfect night adventure!

Total Time: 4 hrs 54 Total Distance: ~9.6 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)Total Elevation Gain: ~4080 vertical gain

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How to Make Backpacking Dinners in Batches – Gluten and Dairy Free

Because ya can’t go walking around hungry. ~Asher, my grandson

Food preparation for backpacking trips can be daunting. I have found that making all my dinners at one time at the beginning of the hiking season or for a long distance trail takes away some of the stress and is actually fun. The requirements for this system:

-nutritious
-delicious
-filling
-wide variety of flavors
-no cooking, just boiled water
gluten and dairy free
-compact and easy to carry
-lightweight

Here is what I do before I hit the trail.

The post How to Make Backpacking Dinners in Batches – Gluten and Dairy Free appeared first on Lady on a Rock.

Because ya can’t go walking around hungry. ~Asher, my grandson

Food preparation for backpacking trips can be daunting. I have found that making all my dinners at one time at the beginning of the hiking season or for a long distance trail takes away some of the stress and is actually fun. The requirements for this system:

-nutritious
-delicious
-filling
-wide variety of flavors
-no cooking, just boiled water
gluten and dairy free
-compact and easy to carry
-lightweight

Here is what I do before I hit the trail.

The post How to Make Backpacking Dinners in Batches – Gluten and Dairy Free appeared first on Lady on a Rock.

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Low Aziscohos Mountain via Aziscohos North Trail (Maine)

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On an arctic day with wind chills in the negatives, Lauren and I decided to do a short hike in the Rangeley area. It took quite a while to find one because they are few and far between. Or at least, they're hard to locate online. But we really hit a homerun on Aziscohos.

The trailhead can be found on Route 16 and there is ample room for roadside parking. There is no sign, however, but the trail is easy enough to locate if you have a map of the Rangeley Area or plug in the trailhead into Google Maps.

The trail is steep from the get-go, but at only 3.4 miles round trip, you need to get some elevation in before you're rewarded.

The trail conditions were better than those we had the day before, with packed snow (and a little bit of ice underneath, but nothing crazy).

Eventually the trail becomes a little messier and icier as it climbed up higher.

But after the steepest sections th..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
On an arctic day with wind chills in the negatives, Lauren and I decided to do a short hike in the Rangeley area. It took quite a while to find one because they are few and far between. Or at least, they're hard to locate online. But we really hit a homerun on Aziscohos.

The trailhead can be found on Route 16 and there is ample room for roadside parking. There is no sign, however, but the trail is easy enough to locate if you have a map of the Rangeley Area or plug in the trailhead into Google Maps.

The trail is steep from the get-go, but at only 3.4 miles round trip, you need to get some elevation in before you're rewarded.


The trail conditions were better than those we had the day before, with packed snow (and a little bit of ice underneath, but nothing crazy).


Eventually the trail becomes a little messier and icier as it climbed up higher.

But after the steepest sections the snow started to fill in a bit.


The summit views were outstanding. 360 degree views on a mostly cloudless day. The only negative is we didn't get to see the White Mountains because they were shrouded in some clouds.



Aside from the somewhat uneventful trail to get there, Low Aziscohos is an excellent short peak with stunning views that I hope to come back to some day.

Total Time: 2 hrs 14Total Distance: ~3.37 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~1561 vertical gain

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How to Use Essential Oils for Hiking

Updated 10.27.20

My pack always includes sample sizes of Lavender, Peppermint, and Melaleuca essential oils.

I want to begin this post by saying I am no expert on Essential Oils. Just Google essential oils and thousands of articles giving facts, properties, uses, and cautions are available at your fingertips.

BUT I do want to share the positive impact using just a few basic oils have made on my family. This is especially true on hiking trips.

My daughter introduced me to the benefits of essential oils. Since then I have added Lavender, Peppermint, and Melaleuca oils to my basic hiking first-aid kit replacing: Sudafed, antibiotic ointment, and reducing the number of Ibuprofen tablets I carry. By using the oils daily on trips, I have less congestion, breathe easier at high altitudes, sleep better, and have fewer headaches. Also, everyday cuts/scrapes/bruises/blisters/muscle & joints throb less and heal faster. On top of all that, I am now getting benefits of using natural remedies an..

Updated 10.27.20

My backpack always includes a small kit of Lavender, Peppermint, and Melaleuca oils.

My pack always includes sample sizes of Lavender, Peppermint, and Melaleuca essential oils.

I want to begin this post by saying I am no expert on Essential Oils. Just Google essential oils and thousands of articles giving facts, properties, uses, and cautions are available at your fingertips.

BUT I do want to share the positive impact using just a few basic oils have made on my family. This is especially true on hiking trips.

My daughter introduced me to the benefits of essential oils. Since then I have added Lavender, Peppermint, and Melaleuca oils to my basic hiking first-aid kit replacing: Sudafed, antibiotic ointment, and reducing the number of Ibuprofen tablets I carry. By using the oils daily on trips, I have less congestion, breathe easier at high altitudes, sleep better, and have fewer headaches. Also, everyday cuts/scrapes/bruises/blisters/muscle & joints throb less and heal faster. On top of all that, I am now getting benefits of using natural remedies and not putting unnecessary chemicals in my body.

Some of you have even emailed me after viewing my BACKPACKING GEAR LIST asking about the oils. This post is long overdue.

One of the first mistakes I made when starting to use essential oils was buying inexpensive, poor quality oils found at drug stores or Whole Foods. I found they do not work as well. If this interests you, I urge you to do your research and buy quality oils. The oil companies I have experience with and have worked well for me are doterra, Young Living, Mountain Herbs, and Spark Naturals.

To get you started, I have a special discount coupon code “ladyonarock” for 10% off any Spark Naturals essential oils order.

How to Hike with Essential Oils

First and foremost, I wanted the trio to be lightweight and sealed. This took some trial and error. After a few experiments, here is how I carry the oils.

    1. Add each oil to a 5/8 dram bottle designed just for carrying the oils. I tried other options, but oils leaked. I love these and they come in a 5 pack. Tap once on the bottom of the bottle to dispense a half a drop.
    2. Apply round sticky 1/2″ label on the lid, then label with a sharpie. This stays on better than applying the sticker directly on the bottle. Also you can order pre-printed labels.
    3. Seal bottles in a small zip lock baggies and add to your first-aid kit. I like snack size baggies, pill pouches, or small free zip locks that come with small products.
    4. Entire tiny kit weights less than an ounce and will last a month or more on a long distance trip.

Common Sense Cautions

Essential oils are very strong. One drop is usually plenty. More is not better.Do not get into your eyes by rubbing, applying too close, or dropping directly into the eye. Use caution when using on children by diluting oils with a carrier oil, lotion, or salve.

My Favorite Uses

I created a handy printable of my basic uses for backpacking and hiking to add to your first-aid kit. Head on over to my Freebie webpage to download the printable.

Extra Tips
My nightly essential oil routine non-bear areas.
Apply Lavender to any cuts or scrapes and a couple drops to the bottom of my feet to help me sleep restfully. Apply Peppermint to sides of nose and chest to keep sinuses clear in the night. If I have any muscle pains I might add a drop of Peppermint to a bit of salve and apply to a tender area. I always carry a small pot of Fragrance-Free Neutrogena Hand Cream.

Discount coupon code “ladyonarock” for 10% off any Spark Naturals essential oils order

Do you use essential oils in the outdoors? Please comment and share what works for you.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Lady on a Rock have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment when indicated, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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The Ten Worst Winter 4000 Footers in New Hampshire

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For many winter hikers in the White Mountains, this list may look familiar. But not everyone knows which hikes require long road walks when the snow hits the ground. For your convenience, I have compiled this list to give you some insight of which peaks are the biggest pain to access in the winter. Some of these hikes would make it into my top 20 in any other season, so don't assume these are bad hikes. Also unlike my 10 Worst 4000 Footers list, this one I have actually ranked 10-1, 1 being the worst.

10. Mount Carrigain

Carrigain isn't in my top ten 4000 footers (it was during my first 48 finish), but it easily cracks the top 20. Not in winter. I find Signal Ridge to be a charming place and the summit views from the tower are among the most sweeping in the Whites. But in the winter, it's a 14 mile slog because Sawyer River Road is closed. Don't let that take away from ..

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For many winter hikers in the White Mountains, this list may look familiar. But not everyone knows which hikes require long road walks when the snow hits the ground. For your convenience, I have compiled this list to give you some insight of which peaks are the biggest pain to access in the winter. Some of these hikes would make it into my top 20 in any other season, so don't assume these are bad hikes. Also unlike my 10 Worst 4000 Footers list, this one I have actually ranked 10-1, 1 being the worst.

10. Mount Carrigain

Carrigain isn't in my top ten 4000 footers (it was during my first 48 finish), but it easily cracks the top 20. Not in winter. I find Signal Ridge to be a charming place and the summit views from the tower are among the most sweeping in the Whites. But in the winter, it's a 14 mile slog because Sawyer River Road is closed. Don't let that take away from the beauty of this peak, but it's a real hassle in winter.
9. Mount Cabot

Cabot doesn't make this list for any particular reason other than the fact that it's just a long hike in the winter clocking in around 9.5 miles from York Pond Road. I have no qualms against long hikes, but because the Berlin Fish Hatchery gate technically closes at 4, it shortens your hours to finish the hike unless you want to chance it and hope they don't lock you out
8. North Twin and 7.South Twin

Haystack Road is closed in winter, so the Twins become much more difficult to access. As a result, many park at the end of Little River Road but there are currently some issues with the neighbors that have changed the herd path to the trailhead. More info can be found on that if you peruse the net, but for all intents and purposes, it's not as easy as driving to a trailhead in the winter.
6. Mount Isolation

The only reason Isolation isn't lower on the list is because what makes this hike in winter a headache is also a benefit. I enjoy the summit of Isolation, and if you do it from Glen Boulder the views are wonderful on the way there. But the standard route in winter is quite long on the Rocky Branch Trail (ordinarily 12 miles). The only saving grace is the Engine Hill Bushwhack, which is often broken out after a snowstorm. It saves a few miles round trip but can be difficult to follow without a GPS track or a perfect snow pack.
5. Owl's Head

It only made sense to put Owl's Head next on the list because like Isolation, the standard approach uses a bushwhack (two, actually). The first is the Black Pond bushwhack, and the second is the Brutus bushwhack. The former dodges river crossings and the latter dodges the steep and often icy Owl's Head slide. These hassles are also benefits because they save you some mileage round trip. But Owl's Head is still one of the longest hikes in the Whites, and with no summit views this peak easily makes the top ten.
4. Mount Hale

Were it not for the classic Fire Warden's Trail, Mount Hale would probably be the worst of the winter peaks. It cuts off significant distance and sees a lot of skiing traffic. Otherwise, you are walking the majority of the 3.7 mile Zealand Road to access the trailhead proper.
3. South Carter

No love for South Carter. I just don't like the mountain that much. The approach is long, the views aren't my favorite, and the trails to get there are so-so. It's a long winter hike no matter which way you go.
2. Zealand Mountain

Zealand just barely missed my original bottom 10 list, and it easily makes the bottom in winter. Zealand Road is closed, and it makes this hike around 19 miles round trip. Many opt to do a Zealand-Bonds Traverse for this reason because it's only a few more miles for 4 4k peaks. The only reason I don't have this as number one is because a Zealand-Bonds Traverse is a classic journey.
1. Galehead Mountain

Galehead should have made my original bottom ten. But alas, it deservedly makes the number one spot on this list. Gale River Road is closed in winter, so your options are to walk the road or follow some XC ski trails from the Beaver Brook Picnic Area. The minimum distance is 12.5 miles. Moreover, Galehead is just a slog in the winter for decent, but not great views. I never think of Galehead as a destination peak, and this notion is even more prevalent in winter.

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Acadia National Park: The Triad via Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path, Triad Trail, Carriage Roads

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It's taken me months to get this post up, but it's a great hike and I felt the need to share! Lauren and I went for a night jaunt up The Triad, a less popular peak in the park but one with interesting terrain and decent views.

We started at the Jordan Pond House, although realized in hindsight there was a roadside pull-off for the Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path off the main park road.

We followed the signs up to the Triad/Triad Pass along pleasant but eroded terrain.

Eventually we got into our normal well maintained areas and gained a little more elevation up to the top.

There were some nice views along the way toward the summit proper.

We continued on from the summit, where we got some views, and completed the loop by heading back down to the carriage roads and walking some of the road back to our car at the Jordan Pond House.

Total Time: 1 hr 8 minsTotal Distance: ~3.15 miles..

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It's taken me months to get this post up, but it's a great hike and I felt the need to share! Lauren and I went for a night jaunt up The Triad, a less popular peak in the park but one with interesting terrain and decent views.

We started at the Jordan Pond House, although realized in hindsight there was a roadside pull-off for the Bubble and Jordan Ponds Path off the main park road.


We followed the signs up to the Triad/Triad Pass along pleasant but eroded terrain.



Eventually we got into our normal well maintained areas and gained a little more elevation up to the top.


There were some nice views along the way toward the summit proper.






We continued on from the summit, where we got some views, and completed the loop by heading back down to the carriage roads and walking some of the road back to our car at the Jordan Pond House.




Total Time: 1 hr 8 minsTotal Distance: ~3.15 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~587 vertical gain

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Panther Rock via Upper Mine Hole Trail, Long Path (Minnewaska State Park, New York)

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Back in November, Lauren and I climbed in the Shawangunks for a day, and wanted to see what the hiking opportunities were like in the park. Because of the entrance fee and the absolutely insane hiking crowds, we opted to find a hike off the beaten path. Panther Rock is located on the Long Path, which is a long distance hiking trail that crosses through Minnewaska Preserve. We chose to do the seven mile out and back from a parking area across the bridge off Port Bend Road because the trailhead proper was closed due to Covid.

The Long Path is a 350+ trail that spans much of the state of New York, beginning in New York City and ending near Albany. It continues along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail into the Adirondacks from here. We did a short 3.5 mile section up to Panther Rock, a scenic overlook quite reminiscent of the terrain in the Shawangunk climbing area.

It was a decent uphill with s..

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
Back in November, Lauren and I climbed in the Shawangunks for a day, and wanted to see what the hiking opportunities were like in the park. Because of the entrance fee and the absolutely insane hiking crowds, we opted to find a hike off the beaten path. Panther Rock is located on the Long Path, which is a long distance hiking trail that crosses through Minnewaska Preserve. We chose to do the seven mile out and back from a parking area across the bridge off Port Bend Road because the trailhead proper was closed due to Covid.




The Long Path is a 350+ trail that spans much of the state of New York, beginning in New York City and ending near Albany. It continues along the Northville-Lake Placid Trail into the Adirondacks from here. We did a short 3.5 mile section up to Panther Rock, a scenic overlook quite reminiscent of the terrain in the Shawangunk climbing area.

It was a decent uphill with some ledgy sections. While the terrain was leaf covered, we were still able to make good timing up to Panther Rock.



There were almost no views up until we got to Panther Rock proper, but it was a lovely vista of the Catskills.



We alternated between running and hiking down, enjoying our day out while only seeing a handful of people on the trail.

Total Time: 2 hrs 30Total Distance: ~7 milesTotal Elevation Gain: ~1512 vertical gain

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John Muir Trail Northbound Planning & Packing Guide

Diamond Mesa ~ JMT 2020
Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you, you must travel it for yourself. ~Walt Whitman

John Muir Trail Northbound Overview
It is prime time to be planning for next summer’s hikes and backpacking trips in the Sierra. If you are hiking, plan on hiking or just dreaming about hiking the John Muir Trail this guide is for you. Especially, if you would like to hike the trail in a personal and unique way, northbound.

The John Muir Trail is traditionally hiked southbound and stretches 222 miles from Yosemite Valley to Whitney Portal. It passes through 3 national parks, climbs over 9 major passes, rises up to the highest peak in the lower 48, and leads the hiker up and down extreme changes in elevation. It has what backpackers say is the finest mountain scenery. Out of all of the trails and routes I have hiked, the JMT is like a good friend and always beckons me back.

I have hiked the entire JMT four times in very different conditions. In 2020, I hiked fro..

John Muir Trail
Diamond Mesa ~ JMT 2020

Not I, not anyone else can travel that road for you, you must travel it for yourself. ~Walt Whitman

John Muir Trail Northbound Overview

It is prime time to be planning for next summer’s hikes and backpacking trips in the Sierra. If you are hiking, plan on hiking or just dreaming about hiking the John Muir Trail this guide is for you. Especially, if you would like to hike the trail in a personal and unique way, northbound.

The John Muir Trail is traditionally hiked southbound and stretches 222 miles from Yosemite Valley to Whitney Portal. It passes through 3 national parks, climbs over 9 major passes, rises up to the highest peak in the lower 48, and leads the hiker up and down extreme changes in elevation. It has what backpackers say is the finest mountain scenery. Out of all of the trails and routes I have hiked, the JMT is like a good friend and always beckons me back.

I have hiked the entire JMT four times in very different conditions. In 2020, I hiked from Cottonwood Pass to Bishop pass. The first time, I hiked the most popular direction, southbound. Since then I have hiked northbound. The trip starts at Horseshoe Meadow accessing the Pacific Crest Trail via Cottonwood Pass or Old Army Pass. In just a few miles the PCT joins with the JMT. I have found that hiking northbound follows a natural flow and enhances the experience of hiking the JMT.

JMT Details

DAYS NEEDED 15 to 21 days (depending on your experience and fitness, this is a tough trail with a lot of elevation gain and loss)
DISTANCE Northbound mileage from Horseshoe Meadow Trailhead to Happy Isle in Yosemite is 237 miles. This includes climbing Mount Whitney.
ELEVATION GAIN/LOSS 38,000 ft. / 44,000 ft., south to north
TRAILHEAD Cottonwood Pass or Cottonwood Lakes
DIFFICULTY Difficult, strenuous
NAVIGATION Trail is well maintained and marked, maps and GPS are helpful, early season trips with snow GPS and/or maps are required
BEST TIME TO HIKE July to early October
WATER Abundant natural sources
PERMITS Northbound permits online up to 6 months in advance at Inyo National Forest Wilderness (Cottonwood Pass or Cottonwood Lakes trailheads)

My John Muir Trail Experience

John Muir Trail 2008 – July 2008 I hiked southbound with my family in a low snow year. It was warm, buggy and beautiful. We started from Tuolumne Meadows and ended at Whitney Portal.

JMT – July/August 2008

John Muir Trail 2011 – The next trip in June of 2011 was a different adventure due to a record high snow year. My husband, son, and I hiked northbound through deep streams, icy passes, and trekked through endless miles of snow. I would describe it more as an expedition rather than a backpacking trip. The trip required courage and teamwork. It was a life changing trip. We accessed the JMT at Kearsage Pass and ended at Red’s Meadow.

JMT – June 2011

John Muir Trail 2012 – In contrast, in 2012 the Sierras recorded a record low snow year. This year I hiked solo. It was great to embrace this range in less threatening conditions with no bugs, no snow, and no life-threatening stream crossings. I hiked from Cottonwood Pass to Yosemite Valley climbing Mount Whitney, Cloud’s Rest, and Half Dome along the way.

JMT – July 2012

John Muir Trail 2017 – In 2017, I hiked the JMT northbound early season with 7 other hikers. The high snow year made this early season trip especially challenging due to engorged and raging creeks from snowmelt. This year flexibility, good gear, and teamwork was essential for safety and moral. Our team hiked from Cottonwood Pass to Yosemite Valley climbing Half Dome along the way.

JMT – July 2017

How to Use this Guide

No matter the conditions or time of year this epic trail is hiked, it is challenging and unpredictable. Threatening weather can surround the hiker in minutes and the steep ascents and descents are tough on snow or on clear trail. As a result, basic planning for this beautiful trek is universal.

There is a plethora of excellent information out there on the Internet. If you are planning hiking the John Muir Trail northbound this guide is for you. I have included some optional alternates to the traditional JMT below that I recommend checking out.

Keep in mind that everyone is different with what is comfortable and safe. The following is a conglomerate of planning and tips for a variety of conditions to hike the John Muir Trail northbound.

Why Hike Northbound?

Advantages

  • Northbound mileage from Horseshoe Meadow Trailhead to Happy Isle in Yosemite is 236.9. This includes climbing Mount Whitney with a daypack vs. a full pack.
  • Start in high elevation with a heavy pack, less climbing at the beginning. If altitude is a problem, plan on spending the night in the campground at Horseshoe Meadow to acclimate. The trailhead is at 10,000 ft.
  • Permits are easier to secure
  • The sun is at your back during the afternoon
  • Hiking in a different direction than most JMTers, gives the hiker a more wilderness experience
  • The original guidebook for the JMT, started at Whitney Portal and went north
  • Ending of this journey is spectacular waterfalls and Yosemite Valley.
  • Public transportation from Yosemite to San Joaquin Valley or back to Lone Pine is available, affordable or free.

How to Secure a Northbound Permit

The permit system is complicated and stressful for hikers starting from Happy Isle in Yosemite. Permits from Cottonwood Pass or can be applied for online 6 months in advance.

These trailheads can be reserved up to 6 months in advance. For reservations in the summer months July through October, you will be looking to make reservations starting in January to April. The online permit system refreshes every Monday.

If you plan to climb Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, you’ll need a separate permit from Yosemite.

Helpful Maps, GPS & Guidebook

Rae Lakes Basin ~ 2020

Resupply Locations

Resupply Options (south to north)

  • Kearsage Pass – Some JMT and PCT travelers exit the wilderness over Kearsarge Pass in order to resupply. From the Onion Valley trailhead, you can travel to Independence or other towns along the Highway 395 corridor. Typically, people hitch-hike into town, have friends provide rides or hire a shuttle. Another alternative to is hire a horse packer to drop resupply at Charlotte Lake or have good friend bring food in. For horse packer information try emailing Sequoia Kings Pack Train at bernerspack@yahoo.com or view a complete list of Sierra pack trains.
  • Muir Trail Ranch – Located very near the trail, Muir Trail Ranch accepts resupply packages for a fee, has a very small gift shop and a recharging station for electronics. Rooms and meals are sometimes available at a package rate. Free camping and hot springs are available nearby. Food is available only to those staying the night. No cell service or laundry available.
  • Vermillion Valley ResortVermillion Valley Resort is located at the west end of Lake Edison. A boat shuttle offers rides across the lake for a fee, or one can walk the 4.5 miles. Trail food can be purchased at the store and hot meals are available at the restaurant. Resupply packages are held for a fee. Typically, camping and your first drink are free for thru-hikers. The resort has wifi, rooms, showers, laundry and recharge station for electronics. It is expensive, be ready to spend some money here.
  • Red’s Meadow Store – Red’s Meadow Resort holds packages for a fee and sell a small assortment of food. The Mule House Cafe at the resort cooks hot meals for hungry hikers. Lodging, camping, and showers are also available. A shuttle leaves from here to Mammoth Ski Resort when the road is open.
  • Mammoth Lakes Post Office – When Red’s Meadows is closed due to snow, Mammoth Lakes is a great option. Mammoth Lakes has a full grocery store, outfitters, restaurants, and motels. The post office is located next to the Motel 6 at 3330 Main Street.

Mail packages to:
(name)
c/o General Delivery
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Arriving by: ETA

  • Tuolumne Meadows Post Office -The well-stocked Tuolumne Meadows Store caters to thru-hikers. It’s open seasonally, sometimes not until after the first hikers pass through. The store can be reached at 209-372-8428. The Tuolumne Meadows Post Office is in the same building as the store and grill. It’s phone number is 209-372-8236.

Mail packages to:
(name)
c/o General Delivery
Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Arriving by: ETA

  • Hired Resupply Services – Horse packers can bring in food resupplies to you. This is commonly done in the LeConte Canyon/Bishop Pass area by Rainbow Pack Outfitters and in the Kearsarge Pass area by emailing Sequoia Kings Pack Train at bernerspack@yahoo.com. Or view a complete list of Sierra pack trains.

Resupply locations for each year hiked

2008 – Red’s Meadow, Vermillion Valley Resort
2011 – Vermillion Valley Resort
2012 – Vermillion Valley Resort, Red’s Meadow, Tuolumne Meadows
2017 – Vermillion Valley Resort (we left with 8 days of food in our packs from Cottonwood Pass Trailhead to resupply at Vermillion Valley Resort), Mammoth Lakes Post Office
Note: Red’s Meadow & Tuolumne Meadows Post Office were closed due to snow damage.

Can I cache food on the JMT

Caching food, the practice of leaving a resupply to be picked up later, is illegal along the JMT. Food drops, whether in the wilderness or in bear lockers, are regularly confiscated by rangers. Please do not leave caches along the JMT.

Resupply Assembly

John Muir Trail Resupply
Dairy and Gluten Free: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Snacks for 2 1/2 Weeks

Preparing and assembling resupply boxes can be daunting and stressful. Here are a few strategies that I use to make this process easier.

Here is a John Muir Trail Resupply Checklist Printable that I use to keep me organized.

John Muir Trail Resupply Checklist Printable

Added Alternates and Options to the Traditional JMT Route

Lower Palisade Lake
  • Climb Mount Whitney from Crabtree Meadows. For an extra treat, start hiking with a daypack from your camp at Crabtree Meadows very early (1:00-2:00 am) for sunrise on top of Mount Whitney.
  • Stop at Blayney Natural Hot Springs near Muir Trail Ranch. Even if you are not resupplying, this a real treat.
  • Vermillion Valley Resort resupply options – to access Vermillion Valley Resort Resupply exit the JMT at Bear Ridge Trail junction. It is 8 miles to the resort. Take the ferry from the resort back to the trail at the opposite end of the lake. This is especially helpful if you cannot make the ferry times or the ferry is not running or you would like to save some cash.
  • After leaving Red’s Meadow, hike to Agnew Meadows, then hike the PCT High Trail to Thousand Island Lake where it joins back with the JMT. The High Trail has stunning views, water from springs, and aspens. The only drawback, the trail can be dusty from frequent use of horse packers.
  • After leaving Tuolumne Meadows detour west off the JMT after Sunrise Camp to climb Clouds Rest, then hike the trail south off the peak to join back with the traditional JMT trail.
  • Climb Half Dome on the way to Yosemite Valley. The access trail branches off of the JMT. Even better, get an early start for sunrise on top of Half Dome. It is a breathtaking experience with less hikers on the trail, cables, and summit. You will need a permit. Get one at the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station or online.

Transportation and Shuttles

Driving

Long term parking is available at both ends of the trail. In Yosemite Valley, use the backpacker’s lot near Curry Village, a half-mile from the Happy Isles trailhead. At the southern end, parking is available at Whitney Portal. Both locations may be full. You might have to wait for a spot to open up. In Lone Pine, long-term parking may be available in the overflow parking lot of the Dow Villa Motel (ask before you park) and at the Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce (for a small fee). At all parking sites near the trail, be sure to remove all food and scented items and conceal anything that would look like food to a bear (e.g., coolers).

If you don’t have a two-car shuttle option, leave your car at your exit trailhead and take public transportation or a private shuttle to your start point.

Visit climber.org for an exhaustive set of driving directions to JMT trailheads.

Bus Service

This can be complicated, but there is a remarkably effective system in place. Visit the bus company websites and ask online if you need help.

  • Along Highway 395, Eastern Sierra Transit runs between Reno, Nevada and Lancaster, CA. It includes stops in Mammoth Lakes, Lone Pine and other JMT trailhead communities.
  • YARTS runs between Merced, CA and Mammoth Lakes through Yosemite National Park. YARTS has a timed connection with Amtrak in Merced, CA. In Yosemite Valley, you may need to transfer to another YARTS bus if you wish to continue further. You can transfer between YARTS an Eastern Sierra Transit in Lee Vinning and Mammoth Lakes.
  • To reach Yosemite from the west side, Amtrak connects to YARTS (and thus Eastern Sierra Transit) through Merced, CA. You can reach the Merced station via Amtrak from lots of places, including San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento and Fresno.
  • Inside of Yosemite, local buses (Valley shuttle; Tuolumne Hiker Bus; Tuolumne shuttle) take hikers to their trailheads in addition to the two YARTS lines (to Merced and to Mammoth).
  • On the west side, Sequoia Shuttle and Big Trees Transit ferry passengers from Visalia and Fresno into Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Flying

  • Reno, Nevada is one of the easiest airports to access the JMT from. The Eastern Sierra Transit bus stops at the airport and will bring you to Lee Vinning, Mammoth Lakes or Lone Pine, CA. From Lee Vinning or Mammoth Lakes, you can transfer to YARTS for your connection to the northern terminus of the JMT.
  • San Francisco, Sacramento, Oakland, Fresno and Las Vegas all provide reasonable access to the John Muir Trail as well. From California, you will take a taxi to Amtrak to YARTS (in Merced) or a taxi to Greyhound or Amtrak and then on to connect with Eastern Sierra Transit (in Reno).
  • Flying into the Mammoth Lakes airport and then hiring a private shuttle or connecting to Eastern Sierra Transit is also a great option for accessing the JMT.

Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking is also an option for some. The stretch of road between Lone Pine and Whitney Portal is commonly hitched. Hitchhiking is definitely not recommended on the west side of the Sierra.

Private Shuttles

On the east side of the Sierra, various private shuttle companies can pick you up or drop you off at JMT access points. Options are few on the west side. For hikers hoping to join or leave the JMT around the mid-point on the trail, Vermillion Valley Resort runs a shuttle between Edison Lake and Fresno, CA. See the Sequoia Shuttle above for another option.

Timing & Pace

John Muir Trail
Glen Pass

Everyone has a different pace and fitness, but my general rule of miles per day with lightweight equipment (not over 28 pounds with extra bear/snow gear, 1 liter of water and food) is 15 miles per day in snow/raging creek conditions and 16 to 22 miles a day on dry trail. I usually start hiking at 6:00 am and finish at 6:00 or 6:30 pm. I also like to add a layover or zero day in my itinerary. This schedule allows the hiker to finish the trail only taking 2 weeks of vacation time from work. Keep in mind that many hikers choose to hike the trail in 20 or so days, which is a beautiful experience.

2012 – 15 days including 1 zero day at Vermillion Valley Resort
2017 – 15 days, averaging 15 miles per day (we did not climb Mount Whitney)

Physical Training for Hiking a Long-Distance Trail

I dislike unnecessary suffering when hiking on the trail. It takes away from the enjoyment of the trip. The following are tips I do in the weeks ahead of an important trip to prepare my body for the rigors of a long trail:

  • Two or three days a week, walk up and down dirt hills on uneven terrain carrying a loaded pack (at least 20 pounds) and wearing the trail shoes and socks you will be using on the trip. This gives you a chance to find out if your shoes/sock combo gives you blisters and if the shoes are going to big enough (I always use a whole size bigger for longer backpacking trips). Also, walking with a pack strengthens ankles, legs and knees, toughens your feet and shoulders, and builds balance.
  • Three or four days a week calisthenics: push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, and toe lifts.

Tips for a Happy Body on the Trail

  • At least once a day (lunch break is a good time) take off your shoes and socks. Take out insoles, empty dirt out of shoes and dry out socks and shoes. This gives your feet a chance to harden up so blisters won’t start and for your shoes to dry the sweat out. This is specially important on the first few days of a trip.
  • If you feel a hot spot or a rock in your shoe, stop and put a band-aid or tape (I like Leukotape) over the spot BEFORE it turns into a blister.
  • If you have trouble with blisters between toes, try Injinji Toe Socks.
  • Wear lighter weight trail runners with soles that grip and have mid-sole support. My favorite choices are the La Sportiva Bushidos or La Sportiva TX3

Cell Service Along the Trail

For the most part, the High Sierra does not have service. I received service at the Mount Whitney windows facing Lone Pine, on Kearsarge Pass, all of Bear Ridge and surrounding area of Edison Lake, Red’s Meadow and surrounding Mammoth area, at the top of Half Dome and in Yosemite Valley.

JMT Videos

JMT Photo Albums on Flickr

My Daily Trail Journals

Get the Gear | John Muir Trail Lightweight Gear List

John Muir Trail Gear List
Bighorn Plateau ~2020

Below is my personal John Muir Trail long-distance backpacking gear kit. This list would also apply to any longer distance hikes in the Sierras. My base weight (all gear without food and water) is around 12 pounds including a bear can. My TOTAL weight with with 1 liter of water and 5 to 8 days of food varies from 21 to 27 pounds. I have also included a men’s clothing list that are favorites of my husband and son.

*Not Included in the list for early season or high snow years: Ice Axe & Microspikes

John Muir Trail Gear

1. Sleeping Bag 23 oz | 2. Sleeping Pad 15 oz | 3. Tent 15.3 oz | 4. Tent Stakes (6) 3 oz | 5. Backpack 26.2 oz | 6. Shoulder Pocket 1.75 oz. | 7. Bottle Pocket 1.35 oz | 8. Pad 2 oz | 9. Bear Can 28 oz | 10. Pot 2.8 oz | 11. Stove 3.98 oz | 12. Utensil .63 oz | 13. Journal 23 g | 14. Knife .8 oz | 15. Sit Pad 1.3 oz | 16. USB Wall Charger .8 oz | 17. Headlamp 1.66 oz. | 18. Trowel .6 oz. | 19. Head Net .7 oz | 20. Stuff Sack .3 oz | 21. Water Filter 3 oz | 22. Water Bottle 1 oz | 23. Lightening Cable .32 oz | 24. Battery Charger 6.35 oz | 25. Tripod 3.2 oz | 26. Satellite Communicator 3.5 oz | 27. Smartphone/Camera 6.63 oz

John Muir Trail Clothing List1. Hooded Sun Shirt | 2. Buff | 3. Skirt | 4. Watch | 5. Shorts | 6. Sports Bra | 7. Hiking Poles 11.2 oz | 8. Hat | 9. Sun Gloves | 10. Sunglasses | 11. Socks | 12. Gaiters | 13. Shoes 17 oz | 14. Down Puffy 7.8 oz | 15. Wind Jacket 3.4 oz | 16. Socks 1 oz | 17. Gloves 2 oz | 18. Rain Jacket 3.8 oz | 19. Legging 5 oz | 20. Sleep Shirt 3.1 oz | 21. Sleep Socks 3 oz

John Muir Trail Men's clothing List

1. Hooded Sun Shirt | 2. Buff | 3. Pants | 4. Watch | 5. Briefs | 6. Hiking Poles 11.2 oz | 7. Hat | 8. Sun Gloves | 9. Sunglasses | 10. Socks | 11. Gaiters | 12. Shoes 17 oz | 13. Down Puffy 8.3 oz | 14. Wind Jacket 3.4 oz | 15. Socks 1 oz | 16. Gloves 2 oz | 17. Rain Jacket 3.8 oz | 18. Sleep Bottoms 5 oz | 19. Sleep Shirt 3.1 oz | 20. Sleep Socks 3 oz| 21. Beanie 2 oz

1. Ziplocks | 2. Micro Dropper Bottles | 3. Mini Dropper Bottles | 4. Small Pots with Lid | 5. Small Pouches | 6. Pack Liner | 7. Odor Proof Bag | 8. Insect Spray for Clothes | 9. Band-aids | 10. Leukotape P | 11. Sanitizer | 12. Wipes | 13. Sunscreen | 14. Deodorant | 15. Lip Balm | 16. Dental Floss | 17. Tooth Powder | 18. Toothbrush | 19. Bandana | 20. DCF Tape | 21. Lighter |22. Eye Mask | 23. Camp Shoe | 24. Soap | 25. Insect Spray | 26. Brush | 27. Salve

If you hike the John Muir Trail, tag @christyrosander on Instagram and use the hashtag #ladyonarock so I can take a look!

The post John Muir Trail Northbound Planning & Packing Guide appeared first on Lady on a Rock.

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NH 4K: Mount Cabot via York Pond, Bunnell Notch Trail (Winter)

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I don't make it up to Mount Cabot often due to the sheer distance from home. Over 3 hrs and 30 minutes is a long slog. But Liam and I decided to get an evening hike in with a finish in the dark.

We spotted a car at the Fish Hatchery gate in case it was locked on the way back, and drove to the trailhead proper. Conditions were prime, the snow was hard packed, and we made great timing up to the summit. There were a few bare spots and icy spots, but nothing major.

We stopped for a short snack at the cabin and as soon as we started back up again it was pitch black. We reached the top just after 5 pm.

The journey down was swift as well, and we finished the hike in the exact time I finished it the last time I did it in winter–3 hrs 45 mins round trip.

Total Time: 3 hrs 45 minsTotal Distance: ~9.4 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)Total Elevation Gain: ~3149 vertical gain

Buy my new novel Take to the Unscathed Road now!Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!
I don't make it up to Mount Cabot often due to the sheer distance from home. Over 3 hrs and 30 minutes is a long slog. But Liam and I decided to get an evening hike in with a finish in the dark.

We spotted a car at the Fish Hatchery gate in case it was locked on the way back, and drove to the trailhead proper. Conditions were prime, the snow was hard packed, and we made great timing up to the summit. There were a few bare spots and icy spots, but nothing major.





We stopped for a short snack at the cabin and as soon as we started back up again it was pitch black. We reached the top just after 5 pm.


The journey down was swift as well, and we finished the hike in the exact time I finished it the last time I did it in winter–3 hrs 45 mins round trip.

Total Time: 3 hrs 45 minsTotal Distance: ~9.4 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)Total Elevation Gain: ~3149 vertical gain

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