Note: I am about a week-and-a-half away from my first step on the trail. I leave Happy Isles August 23rd and intend to summit Whitney early September 12th. Yesterday, I left home (for a business trip and then to acclimate to the elevation for a few days in Mammoth Lakes, California). That's my excuse for the next several blog posts to be a bit shorter than usual. Also, none of the next six posts will reference current events. All will be written in early August. I’ll be back in mid-September with more stories from the trail!
We all obsess over our gear lists; the last thing we want to do is carry something unnecessary (except for our first aid kit) or forget something critical. I’d like to suggest a small item that I find absolutely invaluable, especially when I hike alone.
I never hike without my Rite-In-the-Rain notebook. I know, I know, the more refined among you no doubt swear by Moleskine. They certainly seem to aspire to a more upscale and sophisticated clientele. I have to admit, I’ve toyed with them as well.
But I always come back to Rite-in-the-Rain. They’ve been in the business since the 1920s and I used their products continually during my thirty-year career in the Army. This video shows how remarkable their stuff is.
Why is a notebook so important, particularly if you are hiking alone? Because walking is a bit like meditation. After a few days (about the time you cross Donahue Pass, in my experience), you will have cleared the mind of an enormous amount of distractions. All of a sudden a tsunami of ideas, plans, perspectives—even recipes—start pouring out of your consciousness as you walk, most of which have nothing to do with hiking. If you leave those gems scattered along the trail, instead of writing them down, you are failing to take advantage of one of the greatest rewards of a John Muir Trail hike.
It’s also great for journaling, keeping notes about your hiking speed (which is useful in planning future trips), jotting down the names and email addresses of the people you meet on the trail, and making lists of things you want to buy at Tuolumne, Red’s Meadow, VVR or MTR.
And, with one of these notebooks, there’s no chance of losing your data if you drop it in the creek!
Good hiking, Ray