Completing this thru-hike wasn’t on my personal to-do list, but it was my husband Ryan’s dream. Our daughter Sydney (her soon to be 17) and I reluctantly agreed to go with him on this epic adventure. From obtaining wilderness permits to planning the trip, her husband played a leading role. Interestingly, this is usually not his role in our partnership. I am definitely a planner and he is my ‘live in the moment’ yin to my yang. With this, I think it holds us both in good stead in that he helps me ponder the details and he helps me not take life too seriously.
The JMT is a steep, high-altitude road that has featured mountains in many film backdrops, beginning in silent films in the 1920s and ’30s. Most of the trails are limited to side trails that are 8 to 15 miles long. In other words, no day hikers. This means there aren’t many people on the trail, but the JMT is still a popular thru-hike, and we met a lot of people going the same direction (south) as we did, or going north. . We met several solo hikers, pairs and small groups of hikers. A hiker, a woman from outside Washington DC, camped with us for a few nights. We met many hikers at refueling stations and throughout our time on the trail. In addition, we encountered Park-his rangers, who patrol the trails and check wilderness permits, and horsemen who make a living by stuffing mule trains to resupply hikers. When I look back at the people I’ve met on the trails, I think about how supportive hikers, rangers, and even pack companies are to each other. It’s not a competition, it’s about each person “hiking their own hike”. 16 days, 30 days, or lifetime?