1. Alfred Nyby
    Alfred Nyby January 8, 2018 at 7:58 am

    Hi Ray ….. Your book was a big part of my planning for my 2015 and 2017 JMT adventures as was your blog. As for the mini-controversies:
    1. Put me in the trail runners column. I’m also in my early 60s and weigh in the 180s. My pack base weight is 17-18 pounds. Last year I did a NOBO JMT starting at Horseshoe Meadows and my pack weighed 42+ lbs with water and 8 days of food. I used Altra Lone Peak 3 trail runners one half size larger than my feet. In short, the best shoe I’ve ever used on the trail. Zero blisters, comfortable and fast-drying. I was concerned about durability, but besides the 225 miles on the JMT I have over 250 miles of city walking on them and they still have a few miles before I pitch them.
    2. I never use the trekking pole loops while hiking. I do use them sometimes in camp when I’m rigging a gravity flow setup for my water filter for example.
    3. I have a Western Mountaineering Megalite bag. I’ve started using it like a quilt unless it is very cold. When I unzip the Megalite completely and spread it out it works like a quilt and has a toebox. I toss and turn a lot and the bag is much more comfortable using it this way. ………….. Alfred N.

  2. Ken
    Ken January 9, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Ah…..you forgot one “controversy” I often hear. Last year on the Oregon section of the PCT (boring compared to the JMT and not recommended), I heard many conversations about stove vs no stove. While I prefer my dinner hot and tasty, I was lectured by self-proclaimed hard core through hikers on the virtues of cold beans and rice and the resulting space and weight savings. Blech! Give me my beef stroganoff and give it to my piping hot!

  3. Darryl
    Darryl January 9, 2018 at 10:46 am

    Daughter got me started using the KEEN Targhee Mid Hiking boots as they have a wide toe base and fairly light. Very little break-in if any. I had to give up trail runners a few years back as my balls of my feet would hurt at the end of the day – even with a layer of bubble wrap as an additional in-sole. (it works). I’m 55 and have learned to survive by going pretty light (we each got 11 days of food in our Bearvaults last summer!) but I’m definitely need trekking poles with the loop around my wrist to recover on slippery granite & for setting up my tarp. The strap keeps my hand from sliding down. We are still using bags but the quilt is intriguing. My best piece of insurance for a safe hike is my SPOT.

  4. Eric
    Eric January 9, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Yay — someone points out the right way to use trekking poles! It’s not just some cosmetic difference. When I hold them the right way, I can ascend faster, and descend with much less stress on my knees and back. I don’t get a lot from them just walking on level ground (unless it’s slick), but there wasn’t much of that on my hikes.

  5. Alicia
    Alicia January 9, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Great points, Ray! The only controversy I feel strongly about is the trekking pole loop one. I personally know three people who experienced the following separate injuries (one of which was on the JMT!) related to using trekking poles straps: a severe concussion, a broken nose, and knocked out front teeth. In each of these cases, the person simply tripped on the trail (either the trekking poles got caught on something, they tripped over the poles, or they just tripped) and then ended up stopping the fall with their face rather than with their hands because their hands were caught in their trekking pole straps. These happen to be most of the worst trail injuries I’ve been close to or witnessed, all related to trekking pole straps. I’ve also heard of similar things happening when people trip with their camera in their hand and naturally react to try to protect the camera. I’m all for hike your own hike and imagine the straps work out fine for most people, I just always like to make sure the people I hike with have a concrete understanding of the risk.

  6. Linda Selover
    Linda Selover January 10, 2018 at 10:18 am

    Pole straps- I have read that you should take the straps off when going downhill. The only time that I have fallen with my poles was going downhill with my hands in the straps and it pitched me further forward.
    The rest of the time, I use the straps – like a xc-skier – as Ray stated so that you hand is supported by the straps and it takes very little energy to carry/swing the pole forward.
    Stoves- I think that we should carry them. Did you all note that the hiker that was found dead in 2016? (caught in bad weather – I think it was on Bishop Pass?), might have survived if he could have had some hot food to bring up his core temperature!
    Sleeping bags – I do as the fellow above – open my bag all the way and use it like a quilt – when it is warm enough.
    Happy Trails,
    An “older” hiker who saunters down the trail.

  7. Pete
    Pete January 14, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    Years ago when I first started using trekking poles, I came across Peter Cinch’s
    site. Haven’t found anything better, esp. in terms of getting the most out of how to use them once you’ve got your hands in the loops properly. As Linda says, “like a x-country skier”.


  8. John Koehm
    John Koehm January 16, 2018 at 3:35 am

    Hi Ray,
    Thanks for posting this info. I purchased the Trekking pole video that you recommended in your book. It was extremely helpful for me. I discovered that I was doing several things wrong with my poles. I have been practicing with them daily and they feel quite natural now, like an extension of my arms. I sure wouldn’t cut off the straps as they are an integral part. Glad to hear that your Lowa Renegades are holding up well too.

  9. James
    James January 16, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Ray, thanks for your book.
    Hiked the JMT in 2016 and 2017. I used my WM Ultralight as a quilt for the the warmer nights. On a cold night I zip it up. I do get a better nights sleep when using it as a quilt. I use your trekking pole technique, took myself out twice when moving to fast and not paying attention. I hike on the AT in NJ and NH, would never hike without the poles on this trail.

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