The trail begins at the beginning. The true begining of
the John Muir Trail is at the top of Mount Whitney. We would have begun
there. But the place has become rather popular. In fact, "popular"
is an understatement. In order to get a permit for the "Whitney Zone"
one must win a lottery-style drawing. We tried for five different dates.
We got none of them. So we opted to start about fifteen miles south of
Whitney and take the New Army Pass route. It's a far less severe entry
point, and we've always wanted to know what was on the other side of New
Army Pass. Besides, we've been to the top of Whitney several times. We're
not gonna pull out any hair if we miss it this time.
JMT 2000 begins. Or JMT2K as the acronymically inclined might say. I've
just arrived at the Lakes. Not Cottonwood, but Long Lake, I think it's
called. The sun scoots across the landscape only occasionally, and in
small, smoky patches. There's a fire near Kennedy Meadows and it's pretty
much painting everything a brown, ruddy color. To the east, the skies
are crystal clear. Owens Valley is no doubt baking beneath its dusting
of ash. Mom will be along shortly. I wanted to forge ahead (as always)
and set down my pack, which, for the record, weighs about 50 lbs including
water. That's actually pretty light for me, but that's mainly because
I'm not carrying wine this time...