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Recon - John Muir Trail Journal - 2017

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Chris "Papa Corn" Taylor
City: Placerville
State: California
Begins: Jul 13, 2017
Direction: Southbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Sep 7th, 2016

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,296
Journal Visits: 2,849
Guestbook Views: 16
Guestbook Entrys: 3

John Muir Trail Map

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CJ and I entering Tahoe City in 2012


I've never maintained hike a journal so it's time to change that.

I've been a section hiker on the PCT for about 35 years, hiking lately with my teenaged son, CJ. We started backpacking together when he was 12 and I quickly realized I blew it; He could have been doing short trips probably since he was eight based on how strong he was at 12.

The next year, he and I knocked out 100 miles on the Tahoe Rim Trail. He walked me into the ground with multiple 20+ mile days I never expected from him. We ended our hike in Tahoe City just in the nick of time for the old man. I didn't have another 20 mile day in me. We finished a day earlier than expected, so no one was there to pick us up. As we came off the trail in to town, we went to the grocery store with our packs, bought a rotisserie chicken, fresh vegetables, and other good food to get us through the night. Then we walked down the main street looking for a hotel room while carrying our groceries and our packs. Since it was obvious we just came off the trail, people eating at restaurant patio tables treated us like rock stars as we walked, asking us quesions about backpacking, the trail, etc... Clearly they were people who dreamed of backpacking but never managed to pull off more than a couple night stay in a lakeside hotel for their vacation.

The next day we had to check out of our hotel room at 11am, but my wife couldn't pick us up until the evening. We went to Rosie's, a nearby restaurant with long local history, dumped our packs on the porch, and hung out until we could eat no more. Then we went down to the beach and swam in Lake Tahoe until a raging thunder storm hit. As boat alarms rang out indicating imminent capsize from moored boats across the area, we hid under the eves of a park building while the storm hammered Lake Tahoe.

CJ loved it. Hooked on adventure. For life I think.

Now he's 16 and consequently much stronger than I am. We did 220 miles on the PCT this summer, from Tuolumne Meadows to Highway 80/Donner Summit, hiking with the leading edge of the PCT thru hiking herd. Through snow. A lot of snow. I am now very confident CJ can terrain associate with a map and compass when the trail is no where to be seen. But my butt still hurts from all the times I slipped and landed hard.

Our last evening on trail was spent on the deck of the Donner Ski Ranch Lodge, where the restaurant is open all summer and the first beer is free if you look like a thru hiker. We hung out for hours eating and drinking with thru hikers we met along the way while a live band played great music. A drunk and gregarious thru hiker spent significant time talking to CJ, telling him how awesome it was to see us out there, how he'd hiked from the Mexican border and really not seen any other dads out there with their teenaged sons. When hiker midnight came, we clandestinely camped behind the Sugar Bowl Ski academy and hiked to Highway 80 the next morning. While we waited in the parking lot of Boreal Ski Resort for my wife to pick us up, security kicked us out! We just looked too much like vagabonds for them I guess. In the spirit of truly rebellious vagabonds, as security stood by waiting for us to leave, we walked about 50 yards until we were barely off their property, and sprawled out again.

Very shortly, a man driving a volkswagon van slammed on the brakes as he came off the freeway and yelled out the window, "You guys hiking the PCT?! Do you need a ride to Truckee?" We laughed as he jumped out of his van. It was funny that he understood in a blink that we were hikers, while the ski resort security seemed so sure we were there to steal anything not nailed down. We had a great conversation with him as we explained we were waiting for a prearranged ride. Nice guy.

In situations like that, It's hard for me to believe there are people who just want to help others.

And I'm pretty sure the experience with the thru hikers on the restaurant deck the night before combined with Volkswagon Guy's apparent envy of, and desire to help us, as thru hikers, set the hiker-for-life hook a little deeper with CJ.

While we layed there by the side of the highway smelling like sardines that had been left in the sun, 17 days since our last real shower, CJ declared a strong desire to hike the JMT next summer. And I have a strong desire to thru hike the PCT in the future. So this journal is practice for a PCT thru hike journal, and a record of our (hopefully) JMT thru hike. If we can't pull off hiking the JMT because we don't get picked for a permit or we can't work out the time necessary, CJ says we are at least hiking the entire Tahoe Rim.

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John Muir Trail - 2017

The John Muir Trail passes through a land of 13,000 and 14,000 foot peaks, of lakes in the thousands, and of canyons and granite cliffs. It's also a land blessed with the mildest, sunniest climate of any major mountain range in the world. The John Muir Trail is 211 miles long and runs (mostly in conjunction with the PCT) from Yosemite Valley to Mt Whitney, in California.


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