My college Lance Wood, and his daughter Anna, just recently completed a hike on the John Muir Trail. 210 miles in 28 days! Many people, including myself, tend to train hard for something this ambitious, but Lance and Anna set out on this great adventure together with almost no preparation. And the did great! In this interview, Lance and Anna share their highs, lows, and the epic hail storm they got caught in at high elevation.
…By 11:40am the sky had turned dark and I felt the first drop of rain on my head. Contrary to the weather report, my instincts told me to turn around and get lower, so I headed back to the lake where I thought I’d wait it out for a while. When the first thunder came, it was close and powerful, followed by more of the same. Now my instincts told me to run, so I did. As I did, nickel-size hail rained down in almost biblical fashion…
I’ve applied for a Mount Whitney permit over the last few years, but I never seem to get one. This year, by a miracle, I got one for 10 spots! Some friends of mine, Steve, Sam and Chris, said yes. Chris was able to invite five more of his friends: Tad, Lee, Daniel, Pete, and Kyle. And at the end of the day – everyone made the summit! That said, what started out as a 10-12 hour day eventually turned into a 17+ hour day…
…soon the class 2 ridge turned to class 3/4 so we roped up alpine style and continued walking. There were a few sections of the ridge Neil climbed ahead and gave us a hip belay, but we never needed to set up any belay anchors along the ridge. This place was so beautiful it was hard to take it all in. And I got to do this with my son – who gets to do that?
A few years ago, we took the Grand Circle road trip, hitting all of the big national parks in Utah, plus a few more. This year, we decided to take another road trip that would take us north, all the way to Glacier National Park, hitting the Tetons and Yellowstone on the way up, and Sawtooth National Forest on the return.
…the route turned into bigger and bigger talus until it finally ended on a ridge that overlooked the Palisade Glacier. And as I expected, it was truly awe-inspiring and huge. A ridgeline of 14ers – Mount Sill, Polemonium Peak, North Palisade, Starlight Peak, and Thunderbolt Peak – towers over the glacier bowl.
After nine miles of hiking I could finally see Mount Julius Caesar. I was relieved to find it, but troubled about my energy level. I ate a Cliffbar, hoping to fill the tank with a little extra gas to get me to the summit. I had 600 feet of scrambling left to reach the summit. I’m glad a pushed myself. The view from the summit was incredible.
I had been to Buckskin Gulch 10 days before with my friend Manny and hurt my back a few miles from the trailhead. I saw just enough of this amazing slot canyon to know I HAD to come back and see all 23 miles of it. When I showed my family some of the pictures, they all signed up and we planned a trip for the following week. Cold, muddy, waist high pools of water made it tougher than most of us had planned on, but no one was disappointed.