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Fastpacker Sets Fastest Known Time for John Muir Trail

The John Muir Trail (JMT) fastest known time (FKT) record would be the pinnacle of my fastpacking journey. I would need to carry the bare minimum while also staying safe, somewhat sane, and capable of completing the 220-mile trek from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney. I knew this trip would be the ultimate test of speed and efficiency. So, I put years worth of fastpacking notes and experiences to use as I tackled a challenge I had been inspired by for a long time.

How My Fastpacking FKT of the JMT Began

I woke up in Yosemite Valley with the sun. It would be the last time I didn’t use an alarm for days. Timers, dirt naps, and pushing through exhaustion would be my life, and I was ready for it. From the second my eyes opened in the morning, I was ready to go. I casually walked to my car and unpacked all my gear before repacking it. I wanted to ensure I had all the items I needed and nothing I didn’t. At the last minute, I even took out my quilt in exchange for an emergency blanket and a single hand-warmer. If things went sideways, self-extraction would be only a few miles away.

I walked confidently to the start of the trail, and I began my attempt at 7:33 a.m.

Twice this summer, I had a permit for the JMT, but canceled only days later. The JMT unsupported FKT scared me. I first backpacked and scouted it for a record attempt in 2019, but then spent the next three years too nervous to attempt it. Then, Joe McConaughy lowered the JMT unsupported time by three hours in early August, and instead of further scaring me away, it drove me to put a plan in motion and give the record a shot.

I charged uphill from Happy Isles. The time wouldn't stop until I arrived at the Whitney Portal Trailhead 220 miles away—or if I quit. Consistency was the goal and the plan. I wanted to cover nearly the same distance every 24-hour period and consume nearly the same amount of calories. The soft target was a 72-hour finish, or a three mile-per-hour average, breaks and sleep included.

Check out the full article, written by Jeff Garmire here.


May 2, 2024

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