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  #1  
Old 09-11-2002, 06:53 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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How I infiltrated the Sierra Club- 25 days on the John Muir Trail

In my search to find ever cheaper ways to get around on my road trip I have finally taken up backpacking. All of my camping gear was backpacking oriented, so all that was left to do was to buy a backpack and start walking.

I started out with several 2 and 3 day trips in Yosemite National Park in my quest to escape the summer crowds that make the place seem more like the city than the outdoors. I quickly discovered that the wilderness permit to allow backcountry camping is free... parking is free... This is my kind of trip! All I pay for is food, and I probably would have been eating anyways. So the first trips go really well but they were short out-and-back trips. I get more adventurous and ride the shuttle bus from Touolomne Meadows to Yosemite Valley to walk back. I gave myself 4 days to walk the 26 miles, including a side trip to Half Dome.



I join the teeming masses of the summit, then finish the rest of the walk back to Touolomne Meadows in my alotted time. All the while I am thinking about the John Muir Trail, which I am using the first leg of to make my little 26 mile hike. After Touolomne Meadows, the JMT continues on for another 200 miles through several wilderness areas until it reaches the summit of Mount Whitney. I think to myself, "self, you may not ever have another chance to spend close to a month just walking, and you are well conditioned to the high elevation of the hike due to spending the last 2 months in the mountains and carrying a heavy pack for the past 2 weeks and this is the best time of the year doing this particular trail, so what the heck is stopping you?" Well, the wilderness permit for one thing. So I walk over to the wilderness permit office, conveniently located in Touolomne meadows and ask for a permit.

{to be continued, I'm getting kicked out of the Mammoth Lakes library because they are closing }

snip... at the interntet cafe

So the ranger says, "well I can't give you a permit for today... how about tomarrow?"

So I am on my way, 8 days worth of food in my pack to (hopefully) get me to my resupply point at Lake Edison, where I mailed another 12 days of food to (hopefully) get me through the last 140 miles of trail. Soon after leaving the dayhike crowd behind in Yosemite, I find a more peaceful, barrenly beautiful alpine world.



A land populated by strange and interesting creatures... and people.





With strange sights...


Sometimes, all I had was a cold, rocky place to put my tent at the end of the day...


Othertimes, the accomodations were already there.


But the scenery (and the elevation) always left me breathless.

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  #2  
Old 09-11-2002, 07:30 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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I got the opportunity to see nature at work, up close...


...and personal. This storm was the remnants of a Mexican hurricane and left me cold and wet for the last 50 miles of my journey.


But 25 days after leaving warm and sunny Yosemite Valley, I found myself at the end of the trail... at the top of 14,400 foot Mount Whitney during a storm that blew a constant 40mph wind that was cold enough to freeze the water in my CamelBak.



But, as you can see, I wasn't the only dummy to venture up there during such lousy weather. But on that day, I was the only one to walk 200 miles for the privelige!

After making the 6000 foot descent to civilization at the road end in Whitney Portal my next adventure began. How to get back to my Jeep in Yosemite, which I haven't seen in over 3 weeks? Hitchhiking! It worked, within 1/2 hour I was laying down in the bed of a truck for the ride to Mammoth Lakes, where a bus was waiting to take me the rest of the way back to Yosemite.

On this journey I discovered that I could in fact walk long distances while carrying everything I need for survival on my back. I discovered that there is a whole world out beyond the end of even the most remote 4x4 trails, all I need to do was walk. I also discovered that there are other wackos that do this very same thing. This trip opened up a whole world of possibilities for me. I guess it is also appropriate that I post this on 9/11 because that event, on top of everything else happening in my life at the time, made me decide to take fate into my own hands and live out my dreams today, because I never know if I will live to tomarrow to wait for them to come.

The rest of the pictures are here.
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Old 09-11-2002, 07:56 PM
Tumbleweed Tumbleweed is offline
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I am somewhat at a loss for words, but WOW comes to mind.
What an experience! And great pix along with the memories.
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  #4  
Old 09-11-2002, 07:59 PM
Jes
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I know you probably won't see this Alex, but great pictures and I'm glad you made it back to civilization okay!
Hope to see you in Moab.


Jes
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  #5  
Old 09-11-2002, 08:01 PM
derf derf is offline
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Man, I'm jealous.

Tied down to a job and a house.

The most I'm going to do is a road trip from Texas to Maine in Oct '03 for a Jeep Jamboree. I want to hit all 50 states before I turn 35. Most of the ones I don't have are in New England.

What's next on your agenda?
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  #6  
Old 09-11-2002, 08:02 PM
Wind_Danzer Wind_Danzer is offline
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Wow... that's awesome

I did a road trip this summer and it opened up a whole new world for me. I met many people who were walking the Pacific Coast Trail, biking the coastline of California down to San Diego (they started in Washington) and walking the John Muir Trail. All were very friendly and doing exactly what they wanted to do, living out a dream.

On my trip the highlights in California were the National Parks of Lassen, Yosemite and Death Valley. The coast was cool too.

I'm glad you had a chance to do what you wanted to do and live your dream. It's a wonderful thing to look back on, especally with the great pictures you have taken.
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Old 09-11-2002, 08:43 PM
Jerry Bransford Jerry Bransford is offline
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Gorgeous photos, thanks for posting them and this great thread.

I've backpacked that area and did the Edson Lake thing up to Hart Lakes and around the area... mostly cross-country, not too much in the way of hiking the trails. It's spectacular scenery and the sky is so blue that high up (we got well above the treeline as you certainly will) that it looks dark blue, almost purple at times. It took us two days to get to Edson Lake but the afternoon we thought we were there, we stopped about a mile short in a swampy area that we figured had to be Edson Lake. We thought the lake had probably just dried up due to the lack of rain several previous years so we spent the night in the swampy area fighting off hordes of hungry mosquitos. Fifteen more minutes of hiking the next morning brought us to the real Edson Lake, what a gorgeous off-the-beaten-path high-Sierras lake. The Lake was so full of natural trout that we easily caught our breakfast of pan-sized trout by casting just about anything we had for bait out onto the lake.

We later hiked over to the Hart Lakes (is one of your above photos showing the Hart Lakes?) where my friend caught a gorgeous 7 or 8 lb. trout. Of course that night, some animal made off with it from where it was hanging 15' up in the trees with about a dozen other nice (!!) trout we caught.

You're sure on a nice jaunt, wish I was up there myself!
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  #8  
Old 09-11-2002, 08:51 PM
Dukes69 Dukes69 is offline
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Alex,
Glad to hear your doing alright. Looks like a great adventure. Makes me want to quit the daily grind and get away from it all. Beautiful pictures!! thank you for your update, and good luck on your journey!
Take care
Chris
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  #9  
Old 09-11-2002, 08:59 PM
BlueJeeper BlueJeeper is offline
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Wow,

Thanks, I just got back from several days of backpacking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you just made me feel like a wuss!

Seriously, that is incredible what you are doing, I wish I had the time right now to do something similar.

Thanks for sharing!
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  #10  
Old 09-11-2002, 09:43 PM
JeepKat JeepKat is offline
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Thank you

Incredible!

The courage it must have taken to break away and live your dreams ?today?. Not many of us have that courage. It is easier to stay with the ?familiar? then to seek out and embrace the unknown.

I feel grateful and honored that you are sharing your adventures with us. The memories will last you a lifetime. The pictures you have taken are so beautiful, a lasting memory to be shared and reflected upon for many years to come.

I have heard many times today ?It is only through adversity do we come to know what kind of people we really are.?
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  #11  
Old 09-11-2002, 10:26 PM
Chris L Chris L is offline
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Thanks for the update buddy. Are you gonna come down for a dinner and laudry session soon? You have to check out the new house.
Glad you made it back safe.
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  #12  
Old 09-12-2002, 08:44 AM
Jason L Williams Jason L Williams is offline
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Hey Daniel Boone

Alex,
I'm in awe. A world without concrete. Who would've thought? Fantastic pics. Sounds as if you're having the time of your life. Thanks for sharing. With all that running around in Yosemite, have you run into any bears that were hungry and wanted to test taste Alex?

Jason
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  #13  
Old 09-12-2002, 04:14 PM
William William is offline
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Living through others..

Since leaving Iceland, I've been wanting to have adventures, once again.

www.wanderlust.net

http://www.globetrotters.ch/index3e.asp

www.strikingviking.net

Traveling around the world and seeing things not many see.

In your case, seeing things a lot closer than far away countries....

You've renewed my interest in backpacking. I"ll have to break out the northface pack and get back into shape.
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  #14  
Old 09-13-2002, 11:11 AM
Paul Sinclair Paul Sinclair is offline
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That was an enjoyable read & a nice way to start a Friday morning. Sounds like an amizing trip.
I did a round trip day hike to Half Dome last month with a 3lb backpack, that was about all my knees could handle.
Paul
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2002, 12:06 PM
Joe Dillard Joe Dillard is offline
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Excellent! Thanks for sharing.
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  #16  
Old 09-14-2002, 12:28 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by derf
Man, I'm jealous.

Tied down to a job and a house.

The most I'm going to do is a road trip from Texas to Maine in Oct '03 for a Jeep Jamboree. I want to hit all 50 states before I turn 35. Most of the ones I don't have are in New England.

What's next on your agenda?
Next, it's back to Dusy-Ershim, but this time as a passanger and photographer with my old 4wd club. Then it's off to Moab for the NAXJA Fall Fling. Youy can cut loose from work a few days for this can't you?


Did you make it to the SJ run in Colorado?
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  #17  
Old 09-14-2002, 12:32 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Jerry Bransford
We later hiked over to the Hart Lakes (is one of your above photos showing the Hart Lakes?) where my friend caught a gorgeous 7 or 8 lb. trout. Of course that night, some animal made off with it from where it was hanging 15' up in the trees with about a dozen other nice (!!) trout we caught.

You're sure on a nice jaunt, wish I was up there myself!
Thanks, Jerry! The daytime lake is Thousand Island Lake, the dark ones are Lake McDermand and Wanda Lake, below Muir Pass.
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  #18  
Old 09-14-2002, 12:42 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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Re: Hey Daniel Boone

Quote:
Originally posted by Jason L Williams
Alex,
I'm in awe. A world without concrete. Who would've thought? Fantastic pics. Sounds as if you're having the time of your life. Thanks for sharing. With all that running around in Yosemite, have you run into any bears that were hungry and wanted to test taste Alex?

Jason
No, the bears aren't actually interested in people, just people food. I'm really glad because they require that backpackers carry all of their food and any other scented toiletries such as toothpaste in a 3 pound, plasic "bear proof food cannister". That thing took up the entire main compartment of my pack- that explains why there is so much stuff strapped on to the outside. The bears know that they can't get into the cannister so you just leave it outside your tent at a respectable distance and the bears ignore it.

I ended up carrying most of my food in a duffle bag that I took inside my tent and wrapped inside a stinky cotton t-shirt each night. I didn't get all of my food and garbage to fit inside the bear cannister until the very last night of the trip, so yes, I was very glad that the bears don't like poeple.
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Old 09-14-2002, 01:07 PM
Handlebars Handlebars is offline
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Re: Living through others..

Quote:
Originally posted by William
Since leaving Iceland, I've been wanting to have adventures, once again.

www.wanderlust.net

http://www.globetrotters.ch/index3e.asp

www.strikingviking.net
Those sites don't seem so far fetched as they would have a few months ago.

I met one guy who is a burned out aerospace engineer who quit his job and got rid of everything and has been living out of a backpack for the last 3 years. He has visited 56 countries and has not seen a winter since 1999. I spent a long time asking him questions as to the logistics of such a lifestyle. He assured me that it is no more complicated or expensive than what I am doing right now, it's just getting over that initial fear of the unknown.

So far, I have not ventured more than 2 tanks of gas from the people and places that I have called home for my entire life. I'm going to have to make a decision soon because winter is coming and the Cherokee is just about ready for new tires, which will cost about the same as 2 months travel at my present rate.

I'll be looking at the Striking Viking site a little closer though, as I have a BMW R1100RS sitting in my Dad's garage, waiting to go.

Quote:

You've renewed my interest in backpacking. I"ll have to break out the northface pack and get back into shape.
Maybe we could start a "get out and backpack" forum?

Seriously, everybody here loves the outdoors, otherwise we'd be over at clublexus.com whining about our squeeks and rattles and how the seat leather burns our bottoms on really hot days.
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  #20  
Old 09-15-2002, 07:24 AM
derf derf is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Handlebars


Next, it's back to Dusy-Ershim, but this time as a passanger and photographer with my old 4wd club. Then it's off to Moab for the NAXJA Fall Fling. Youy can cut loose from work a few days for this can't you?
Not in the middle of deer season.

Besides, I used up all my spare vacation for my August Colorado trip.

I ended up not being able to take "S.S. Woodgrain" to Colorado. I had overheating problems that I couldn't get fixed until the last minute. And those overheating problems ended up warping my intake manifold giving me terrible vacuum leaks. I did go, but had to take the XJ. I'll be swapping intake manifolds and carb on the SJ within the next month.
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  #21  
Old 09-16-2002, 07:47 AM
ScottyY2K ScottyY2K is offline
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Awesome scenery! That area is truelly beautiful. Words have difficult time descibing the scenery. A 200 mile trek is one hell of an accomplishment!!

While hiking to Rainbow Falls (??) at Devil's Postpile Nat'l Mn't, feeling really good about being out hiking, we ran into a 70-something year "young" couple that were doing a trek like that. We were humbled big time after a 30 minute snack and chat with this couple. If I remember right they too had started at Tuolumne Meadows and were in the middle of their trek.

Prior to becoming a "Jeeper" my wife and I did a ton of Day-Hiking. She was not willing to make the jump to ful on backpacking but we did get into a lot of beautiful areas. We limited out trips to 15 to 18 miles RT. Some days that was too much, particularly at high elevation. There are so many great areas to hike in California that we can not even get a sniff of in a Jeep.

Thanks for the fresh pics and write-up.
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  #22  
Old 09-29-2002, 08:26 AM
TJRON TJRON is offline
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Alex,
All I can say is WOW!
I am a complete wussy when it comes to hiking with a back pack. I even get tired of carrying my fishing gear or camera. Gear straps and stuff just annoy the heck out of me. I guess that's why guys like you impress me so much.
I'm glad there are still "real men and women" out there doing amazing things!
Take care,
Ron
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