Monday, June 20, 2011

Training for the JMT

After a long 3 week break from hiking, I'm back in full training mode. It wasn't very good timing, but we moved right at the time when I should have been training hard for my upcoming JMT thru-hike. Although moving is good exercise, it's definitely not hiking.

Fathers Day, 4:40am, my son and I leave the house heading to the meeting place where he will depart for Boy Scout camp on Catalina Island. I was supposed to be going with him, but crazy things at work made it impossible. Sadness starts to overwhelm me because I've never missed one of these trips in his entire BSA career, so I bug out before long. My first free day in weeks, I head up to local Mt. Charleston to get back into training mode.

Just an hour in and it's like I never left. Damn it feels good to be up here. The cold morning air smells so fresh, and the Aspens are in bloom, waving in the gentle breeze. It's great to be out of the triple digit valley hustle and bustle.

A quick stop to take a glance across the valley, this is a beautiful camp site on a cliff just off the trail. Hmmm...maybe I'll camp here next weekend.

A hour later I find the perfect spot for a break by some lucky Bristlecones...

I stay longer than I normally would and enjoy the peacefulness of this beautiful place. As I gaze up at 11,918' Charleston Peak I realize there's far too much snow on the north face that I am approaching for me to reach the summit. I wonder how far I will make it.

Snow in mid June at about 11,000' elevation is not unheard of, but this year there's way more than normal, that's for sure.

Less than a mile from the peak, Hiking starts to turn into climbing, and I'm uninterested. After making my way over several snow drifts, the wall to the right and the drop off to the left turn me around. A 16 mile hike turns into about 14, and the 4,300' elevation gain turns into some 3,500'.

My MYOG cuben pack filled with all my JMT gear, bear canister included, takes a break on the way down. I'm glad to be back on the trail and am at peace with my world. I have a 200 mile hike just 5 weeks away, so the training now gets more intense. And I love every minute of it.


  1. Now this is where I should be training if I only lived closer to the mountains.
    Our start date is Jyly 15th. I am concerned about creeks. This is going to be an adventure.
    This pack looks awesome. What is it?

  2. Hi Ewa,
    I'm lucky that this area is only 45 minutes from my house. The elevation is very similar to the JMT, so it makes for a great training ground. We will be about 1 week behind you...are you going to have an online trail journal? It would be great to see how you're doing right before I get there. Yes the creeks are a concern, as well as snow on the passes. I guess we just take it slow and careful and it should be fun!

    The pack is my own design, 3035c.i., made from Cuben Fiber. I've been using it exclusively for a year now and absolutely love it. It weighs only 5oz and the material is very durable.

  3. Great trail report John. I just saw a post by Branch Whitney that said Charleston Peak is now doable via South Loop from either side (Harris Springs may be better). I did North Loop to the Peak last year and plan to do South Loop as soon as the snow is gone. Looking forward to your JMT write up. I interviewed a friend who did it last year. Here is the interview:

  4. Tim,
    That was a nice interview! 21 days huh...hmm...I'm planning on doing it in 14. We'll see how it goes :)

    I did another attempt at the north face yesterday, this time from North Loop trailhead. Amazing how much snow melted in just 1 week! There was a snow chute that I had to cross just as you start the final ascent, but I heard lots of water running under it and thought better of crossing it. There were several people on top that came from South Loop, so it's obviously passable from that side. In the end I did about 19 miles and some 5,000' in just over 10 hours with all my JMT gear (bear canister included). A good JMT training day for sure!