Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our itinerary

Our 6 weeks on the trail starts  on the Eastern Side of the Sierras, where we will traverse up into Ansel Adams Wilderness to meet the JMT and cross over our first pass - Donahue Pass at nearly 11,000 ft.  That will be a quad burning day!  Might as well start off with a bang.  We then begin heading south traversing under the peaks of Banner and Ritter, two Sierra giants.  This first leg is 6 nights and 7 days which will deliver us to Devils Postpile, where we will pop out to have a 3 day layover in our luxurious trailer.

The next stretch is 21 nights where we will traverse east to west across the Sierras not once, but twice!  After 5 nights, we pick up our first drop of 2 of the orange Home Depot buckets at Vermillion Lakes and continue on for 6 more nights along the JMT, including a mild cross country traverse into the remote and rugged Bear Lakes Basin.  When this stretch is done, we drop into John Muir Ranch to pick up our next food drop of 3 HD buckets and head onwards.  Six nights later we will have traversed some of my favorite sections of the JMT to include Evolution Basin and Dusy Basin.
Dusy Basin
Cory J O'Neill Photography
 When we pop out this time, Nana and Papa will be there to greet us with a ride to our trailer and a delicious meal ready to go (and some cold beer I am sure).  We will deeply enjoy 4 days of trailer time with Nana and Papa, nice showers, comfy chairs to sit in, and fresh veggies!

Four days later we enter back in to complete our journey.  We will have 7 nights left at this point.  Of course, this last week is the most difficult of the whole summer.  60 of the 200 miles and about 30,000 ft of elevational change remains before the family will cross the finish line together. are a bit radical

Over the last months as people ask what we are doing this summer, we have heard everything from, "Wow, I'd love to do that!" to "well, you guys are a bit radical and extreme" to "really, you are spending most of July and all of August just walking?" to "oh my gosh, you need to tell the newspaper about this!"

In general, I get blank looks when we excitedly announce what we are up to.  To have a retreat like vacation that is not full of noise, lights, sounds, clutter, or man made neon colored plastic but instead resonates God's voice in the rustle of the trees, the birds chirping, the gentle slapping of a stream, and the quiet giggles of kids trying to fall asleep in their tents is hard to compete with.  Nothing can detoxify me from the rat race of life like trail time can.  And it takes days and days and days of immersion into the quiet for me to settle into a new norm of inward peace.

I don't think it's even on the radar of most families with a 9 year old girl and 11 year old boy to dream of spending a summer walking.

But then again, Disney Land is not on our radar.

I hope our book inspires some new dreams for families.  

John Muir Trail - here we come!

 Well, we aren't coming quite yet, but you just patiently wait.  And have  been waiting for the last 5 years as we have dreamed of doing this with a young family.  JMT - here we come, but first I must pause to blog about you!

Even though we just purchased a foreclosed home and have had tons of projects to do and haven't stopped working on it for about 4 weeks straight (but amazingly, with the help of friends and family, we are moving along swiftly!)  I am not going to blog about that.

Most would want to post the amazing before and after pictures, of which we already have accumulated volumes of but alas, amidst all this dust and accomplishment awaits 6 weeks of food to prep for our epic trip.

Blogging about the rebirth of this foreclosed home would be a logical thing to do.  But I must choose and I am choosing to track the prep for this trip instead.

In two days, we will load up 5 orange Home Depot buckets with 3 weeks of supplies and food to mail to ourselves.  It's not possible to carry the amount of food needed for 46 nights on the trail so for about $350, we will send our food ahead and 2 different mule teams will bring it in to us.

The dehydrator is whirring non stop with fruit bars, hummus, and dinners.  We have learned to make dinners ahead and dehydrate them.  Such a treat to have the high nutrition of a veggie packed stew at 12,000 ft high!

Ultimately, we hope to use this trip and the many trips we have done over the years, to create a book targeted at families to inspire them to get out there and do it.  Intentional togetherness on the trail!  Trail time is like non other as there is nothing to distract from high focused time together.  Life boils down to doing the basics together.  Our 9 year old daughter might skip down to the lake to get the water for dinner while our 11 year old son sets up their tent.  There is a gentle and easy rhythm out there where life is not burdened down with to do lists you don't want to do, but instead is full of easy banter, movement that invigorates, fresh air, clean water, and shared vistas of incredible splendor.