Which is a lot more than I thought. Somehow I had convinced myself that this was going to be a walk in the park. Maybe because I used to hike portions of the JMT when I worked in Sequoia National Park, maybe because a lot of people undertake it without much backpacking experience. But there will be days completely over 9,000 feet and days when we lose and gain enough elevation to have climbed Mt. Everest.
(Not really. But there will be some hard days).
How do you plan for spending nineteen days in the wilderness? I've prepared a list. The Freak and I have set up our tents on the lawn and compared them (hers is a little heavier, but she can sit up without her head brushing the ceiling, a fact for which I know I will be supremely jealous later on). We've debated about the merits of rain jackets and whether it really does rain in (northern) California (I don't remember it raining much, but then again, I didn't remember the trails being hard either). Once the sun comes out again here I am going to post pictures of all my gear and weigh it all, which will trigger another round of cuts. In the meantime, we are now turning our thoughts to food.
I don't eat much on backpack trips; my appetite goes south, but I suspect on one like this I will change my ways. We will be hiking an average of 13 miles a day, up and down, up and down. I have this breakfast problem where nothing ever sounds good. As a wilderness ranger I seesawed between granola and powdered milk, power bars, and pop tarts. In the past few years every breakfast I've packed in with has been packed right back out.
We've decided not to dehydrate our dinners; we're just too lazy. So we will buy them through a pro deal that the Freak is able to obtain. Time will tell if we make the right choices.
For now we are a blur of activity, screaming stuff like "I need TITANIUM tent stakes!" It's not like the whole world rests upon our decisions. We aren't going to Mongolia. But I can't help but feel a tiny bit of what people must have experienced as they passed from known country into the wild. For nineteen days, will see other people. We will even pass a couple of small resorts. But for the most part we will be on our own. What we choose to bring now will be what we will have to live with. I love that about the wilderness.