• Kathy Schrenk

JMT from Mammoth, Day 1

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

I'm insanely fortunate to have a son who shares my passions and a husband who's willing to watch our two younger kids while the 12-year-old and I pursue them. So it was that noon Tuesday my son and I had our permits and were finally ready after months of planning to tackle a portion of the John Muir Trail.


We headed out from Horseshoe Lake in busy Mammoth Lakes and up the hill to McLoud Lake, which is a little less crowded. We'd hiked this half-mile section on a previous visit to the area but kept going, past the people fishing, swimming and blasting music. We didn't see another soul until we got to the JMT.



I had a new piece of technology with me on this trip, on the request of my husband: A satellite communicator that allowed real time texting and tracking. It sent a way point to show where we were every 10 minutes and gave Nathan an online map. It connected via bluetooth to my smart phone so I could see the map, too, and easily send texts. I'm really glad I had it so I could stay in touch and be more confident about my navigating.


An idyllic stream on the way to Deer Creek.

Once we got on the JMT it was a short but scenic 1.5 miles to our goal for the day: Deer Creek, which is the last water for a stretch of five miles. (Going for more than a mile or two on the JMT without passing a water source is unusual, so this gap was noted on the map.) There were plenty of people camped there but there was plenty of space, so it wasn't crowded. We had a gorgeous site just steps from the trail, tucked behind a boulder.



Despite the short mileage, it wasn't an easy first day. I was still getting used to my heavier-than-usual pack, thanks to bear canisters. We had been at about 7,000 in elevation near Truckee for more than a week, but it was still an effort to carry 30 pounds up an incline at 8,000 feet. I was glad we had a nice site with lots of water and only five miles the first day.