1. Jill
    Jill October 2, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Thanks for the update Ray! I just bought and read your book last week about the first JMT trip because I’m really hoping to make my own journey in 2015 (I wish I could do it next year but it won’t be possible). I’m taking the opposite tack and trying to go ultralight (or as ultralight as I can get on a budget). I’m hoping to be around 15 pounds of base weight or as close as possible. Looking forward to reading about your tribulations so that maybe I can learn more. Cheers!

  2. Don
    Don October 2, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I’m glad you completed your hike. A coincidence here. I did my first JMT through in 2009 also, finishing on Sept 9. I was back this year for another thru and finished Sept 8. I don’t remember weighing my pack in 2009 at the end but this year it weighed 15lbs with a bit of food and about .5 liters of water. I had no issues with my pack weight but a few mental ones as a result of my hiking partners having to bail at Virginia Lake.
    I look forward to analysis and do hope you can get your pack weight down. I know from my own experience a light pack increases the joy of being on the trail immensely.

  3. Darryl
    Darryl October 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Hi Ray, my daughter & I met you at Red’s meadows. Great to hear you made it and stayed away from the smoke! Someday my daughter & I will make the commitment and do the entire JMT. Reading your book now. We took 7 days just to go from Tuolumne Meadows to Reds but spent a lot of time fishing, taking pics and napping along the trail. At this rate it will take us 10 yrs but who cares!

    My take on light stuff = Ray Jardine + Andrew Skurka.
    Darryl & Jenika

  4. Fred Brockman
    Fred Brockman October 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Congratulations “Burro” Ray — 43 lbs without water or food is one HECK of a load!! I think it was John Ladd that claimed you had a 10 lb camera (grin). My equivalent pack weight was 12.75 lbs and that included the 2.25 lb Expedition bearikade. I found I scrimped a little too much and next year I will be adding a total of 1.5 lbs for a better shelter and more comfortable sleeping pad. fred

  5. geekgirl
    geekgirl October 2, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for the honesty….We all learn more from the bad than from the good, and I really appreciate when someone looks at the mistakes they have made with an honest eye.

    I too, am a slow hiker, and have suffered by packing too much. As I develop my list of what to take on multi-day trips in The Sierra, it helps to be reminded that I need to really pay attention to the pack weight!

  6. Mike
    Mike October 2, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Hey Ray!

    43lbs?? ouch! I just had my first trip with a MLD Exodus after being very hesitant to get away from a traditional full suspension pack..I’m never going back! I’m excited to follow your journey through lightening your load.

    I’ve been following your blog since I picked up your book (IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE IT, BUY IT!), and after reading this post I thought I would drop a note to have you take a look at a website I put together to help find used lightweight gear. It’s a search engine that covers a bunch of the lightweight backpacking and climbing communities, thought you might get some use out it!


  7. Steve Netherby
    Steve Netherby October 3, 2013 at 4:18 am

    Hi, Ray. Yes, congrats on completing another JMT! Want to echo your comments about quality of gear and weight. I did mine last year at the age of 70 with a pack that weighed 50 pounds at the beginning and after each resupply. What’s more, the pack was cheap and savaged my shoulders—pounding my shoulder blades like twin ball-peen hammers with each step. It slowed me, as yours did you, and sapped energy. The magnificent hike was still well worth the aggravation, but my first purchase afterward was a quality pack. Quality and weight of (1) boots and (2) pack are key—right after a positive attitude—to an enjoyable hike. Thanks for your thoughtful blogs and your great book. I look forward to more installments.

  8. Ravi Nagarajan
    Ravi Nagarajan October 3, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Hi Ray, Congratulations on the hike! I finished on September 14 and also had interesting weather on the top of Mt. Whitney … lots of clouds and what seemed like a fog that turned into an icy coating on most of the rocks! Hiking up Mt. Whitney in the dark and descending after sunrise was quite an experience.

    I’m leaning toward the Colorado Trail in 2014 but I have to say that it is tempting to return to the JMT again instead. Maybe northbound to gain a different perspective.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading more about your hike.

  9. Darryl Abrahms
    Darryl Abrahms October 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for your post Ray. I’ve been missing them. I always get at least one nugget of wisdom from your writing. Nice photo too!

  10. Curt
    Curt October 8, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Looking forward to more stories about your trip Ray. My son and I hiked the High Sierra Trail this summer starting at Cottonwood Pass out of Horseshoe Meadow and ending at Crescent Meadow in Sequoia. 5 days/70 miles. I’ve learned a lot since my JMT hike int 2011 and was able to hike out with a fully loaded pack (6 days of food and 2 liters of water) at under 35 lbs. The issue for me isn’t the pack weight anymore, it’s the 10 extra pounds around my waist!

    If you want me to send you my gear list with weight I am happy to do that. You don’t have to purchase extremely expensive ultralight gear to save weight, but there are a few basic things that I have learned that help me keep weight down, stay comfortable and be prepared for varying temperatures and conditions. I admire the ultralighter’s that can go out with very low base weights, but sometimes I think they are pushing the envelope of safety (and comfort). I have an ultralight gear set that I am testing on short overnight trips, but I’m not sure that I would jump on the JMT or into a long trip in the Sierras with it yet.

  11. Adam
    Adam October 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Congrats, Ray!

    My dad (Doug) and I met on the trail: first during a lunch break at Squaw Lake…then again, camping at the Mono Creek footbridge…and again on the switchbacks ascending Bear Ridge. You astutely identified the sooty grouse for us!

    We finished on September 7th–a little under 11 days after we left Happy Isles. We had a great time.

    On the topic of your post: my base weight for this trip was about 13.5 lbs, including the bear can, and several communal items that were shared with my dad. If I were alone, I would have left about 1 lb of that at home. Perhaps a future post for your blog might be an A/B comparison of my JMT gear list with yours–we were both out on the same trail, at the same time, but with (apparently) vastly different gear.

    Of course, I know about 2 lbs of your base weight is accounted for by your John Muir Laws naturalist guide–mucho respect to you for carrying that. Let me know if you ever find a copy printed on Cuben ;).

  12. Chad
    Chad October 9, 2013 at 4:58 am

    Congrats Ray…
    I’m planning to do the JMT for the first time in August ’14. I stumbled onto your website and plan on getting your book too. Much to the disagreement of my wife I am planning on going solo unless, I can find someone to go with. I told her your never really alone. I look forward to reading your blog and book.

    One of the things I’m considering is at the end instead of exiting at the portal is to take the High Sierra Trail and exit at Crescent Meadows since i also love in Visalia……Not sure how realistic it is given I would need a re-supply but would be awesome to do.

  13. Chad
    Chad October 9, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Yeah we got a lot of smoke down here in the valley…..glad it didn’t ruin your trip. P.S. I did get your book today….very good source of info….

  14. […] John Muir Trail thru-hike, which culminated on September 12th. I wrote a little about that hike a couple of weeks ago, and discussed my choice for sleeping bag last week. (If you check out last week’s post, be sure […]

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