By Chris Scott
Story: On August 23rd, Chris Scott, assisted by his team of Deborah Askew, Scott McKenzie, Rob McNair and Barbara & Rick Miller (Note 2), finished (Note 3) the John Muir Trail in a time of 6 days, 23 hours and 34 minutes (Note 4). Combining both fast- and backpacking methods, and interspersed with infrequent pee (43) and photo breaks (358) (Note 5), Chris' blitz (Note 6) from Happy Isle to the Portal below Mt Whitney was unscathed by California's summer monsoons (not as troublesome as Colorado's can be) (Note 7), though pesky mosquitoes took their toll when the team was forced to camp below treeline and/or near slow moving water. With over half of the 10 passes over 11,000 feet, plus Whitney's unsurpassed exposure, spectacular vistas were the hikers' rewards for their trials in the Sierra backcountry.
Asked to comment to the Press (Note 8) at the completion of his ordeal, Mr. Scott quickly downplayed (Note 9) his success, and generally encouraged anyone with even a smidgen of ultra stamina (Note 10) to consider planning as little as 8 days to duplicate the experience, though having a crew (Note 11) to resupply at critical junctures is essential. Flipping out his camera to show the Press a photo from Whitney's summit, Mr. Scott also emphasized the special reward from hiking to the summit under a full moon to witness moonset/sunrise, and how much the experience - even while setting a new VHTRC record - couldn't have been as fulfilling without the photos as future reminder of the thrills in the Sierras (Note 12). Following the interview, Mr. Scott chowed down on the Portal's famous French Fries (Note 13), a treat every JMT'er yearns for starting from about Day 3 on the trail.
Note 1: Actually, David hasn't finished the JMT, but the byline caught your eye, didn't it?
Note 2: Deborah was there for every step; Scott and Rob (regrettably on an earlier team with Horton that attempted the JMT) were there from Happy Isle to Muir Bridge; Rick 'n Barb through Evolution Valley to La Conte
Note 3: Depends on what one means when one says "finished"… Chris and Deborah DID the whole trail, but not in one swell foop.
Note 4: So, the "net" time on the trail was 6+ days, but starting from the first leg (Evolution Valley in July 02) to the final leg (LeConte to Kearsarge cutoff in Aug 06), the time was 4 years and 19 days. Probably the same logic that has Dennis Herr's time at Hardrock still ticking, cuz he refused to kiss The Rock when he finished, so Race Management still hasn't clocked him in.
Note 5: Fortunately, no simultaneous pee and photo breaks
Note 6: Again, depends on how one stretches the definition. Given that Earth time is still trudging along from a scientifically somewhat-recognized start date of roughly 4.5 Billion years ago, even 4+ years can be argued as pretty dang snappy…
Note 7: California has a monsoon? Given the State's history and preference for ideal weather, some locals whine when a summer squall dampens a High Sierra afternoon with an hour or so of precip. Weenies!!
Note 8: Amazingly, this cute little marmot sat on its rock listening to Chris babble for almost 3 minutes before squeaking its discontent and scampering into its hole.
Note 9: By now, of course, you've recognized there's nothing to downplay…
Note 10: Can you carry a 20 lb pack for 20 miles for a few days?
Note 11: Unlike the AT's 7-11'ish Convenience Store every 10 miles and only 100 feet off the trail, you'll want some slightly able, tho not overly "oooh, I want to do the JMT, too!!" volunteer to schlep in more food at a couple spots (Muir Bridge/LeConte and Bull Frog Junction/Kearsarge). Find yourself a retiree (Anstr? Greg? Van Animal?) with enough time on his/her plate, and negotiate a deal…
Note 12: Why have such an experience over such a length of splendid scenery without having more than a failing memory as record?
Note 13: OK, the fries aren't the best in the world, but after several days of eating snack and dehydrated food, even deep-fried pine cones would be a culinary treat.
Note 14: Huh?