Success! You’ve done it. For the first week after you exit from Whitney Portal you’ll feel like a different person. You are a different person. Truth be told, you may never be the same.
Although a victory party – or two, or three – is definitely in order, there are also a few, more pedestrian, chores to take care of. Start with these six:
1. Download your data. There is a saying among us digital photographers: if it doesn’t exist in three places (one of which is off-site), it doesn’t exist. Get your photos, videos, and GPS tracks off your devices and onto your computer, and then back all that data up, twice. (FYI, my strategy is an external hard drive & Apple’s Time Machine for on-site, and Carbonite for off-site.)
2. Clean your backpack. You are going to want to use this again, someday, and you don’t want it smelling like is does now, only worse, the next time you put it on. Your best bet is to check with your manufacturer; they probably have suggested methods on their website. Failing that, check this out. (Thanks to Roleigh Martin for the link.)
3. Clean and hang up your tent. Want a brand new tent on your next trip? Just stuff your current, perfectly good tent into its sack and store it somewhere hot and moist. When you next pull it out it will be ready for the trash and you can start looking for a new one.
4. Make a decision about your footwear. I’m a boot guy, and I would never use a set of boots for anything except a day hike after a John Muir Trail thru-hike. By the end of the hike my boots are really roughed up and the risk of catastrophic failure is just too great. My experience is that trail runners tend to be even less durable than boots.
5. Remove food & batteries. Get the food out of your bear canister and decide whether to keep it or toss it. Those freeze dried or dehydrated meals may last until the next hike, but their life is shortened considerably if you have removed the contents and repackaged them, or even if you have poked a pin-hole in the package so you could squeeze more air from inside. Also, get the batteries out of your devices.
6. Send thank you emails. I have never done a Sierra Nevada hike without someone, somewhere, going out of their way to help. The assistance may come before or after the hike, during the hike, or somewhere I’m taking a zero day. I always try my best to get their email addresses so that I can follow-up. I also give my email address out from time to time, especially to people I lend a hand to. It always makes my day to get a nice email from them, later.
Good hiking, Ray