Note: for new readers who don’t know me well – and just to set the record straight – I should point out that I have no financial interest in this venture. This is just my opinion, for what it’s worth.
Over the past few years I have received quite a few emails from hikers who have successfully finished a John Muir Trail thru-hike, and never intend to backpack again. It might surprise you to know that I particularly treasure these communiques. Each time I receive such a message I know that we have another ally out there in our struggle to protect the wilderness – one we probably would not have otherwise gained.
One of the drawbacks to hiking the JMT as a one-time experience is the investment in gear. As I’ve pointed out before (see the Gear Triangle), the best and lightest stuff is easy to find, as long as you are willing to pay. There are places where you can rent gear (I rented a bear canister, for example, before buying one), but until now I didn’t know of anyplace where you can get a package deal on the seven most common items on just about everyone’s packing list.
Enter Camp Crate.
For a flat daily rate (that is discounted 50% after 3 days), they will send you a tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, camp stove, water filter, headlamp, and backpack. The brand names are solid: REI, North Face, Black Diamond, JetBoil, ThermaRest, and Sawyer. Shipping, both ways, is included in the price. They use UPS as their shippers, which means that you could travel to Oakhurst, Mammoth Lakes, or Lee Vining without having to carry any of this stuff aboard an aircraft. You could probably get a UPS delivery to the Lodge or the Ahwahnee as well. (Sending things general delivery to the Yosemite post office can’t be done with UPS, but you could contact Camp Crate and see if they could accommodate that approach.) At the other end, there is a UPS drop-box within the Chamber of Commerce building in Lone Pine.
A fourteen-day thru-hike will cost you $544. That is still a chunk of change, but it is less than two-thirds of the cost of the items new, and you would save the inconvenience of shopping for the stuff and traveling with it. If you are like me and typically take closer to twenty days to hike the trail, the math gets less attractive. (One note: in my discussion with one of the founders of the business he expressed a willingness to possibly come down a bit for JMT hikers. If after making your calculations you are within $50 or $100 of what works for you, you might want to send an email and see if something can’t be worked out.)
Like using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag, or getting on the trail an hour before dawn, this approach is not for everyone. If it seems like it might work for you, though, I would encourage you to check it out.
Good hiking, Ray