Part 1: Ideation and Planning
I’ve never been on a long-distance backpacking trip, frankly I’ve never even entertained the idea. Yet, I regularly plot and muse about bicycle touring and mountain climbing. The idea came to ride my bike from Truckee, CA to Mount Whitney area, meet Kaeleigh and Diana somewhere on the trail, and together summit the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. Additionally, I wanted to design, build, and use my own gear for the trip.
For the past six months, my girlfriend, Kaeleigh, has been planning her John Muir Trail (JMT) hike. Starting in Yosemite and covering 200 miles with nearly 50,000’ in elevation gain, Kaeleigh and her best friend, Diana, will spend 20 nights on the trail before summiting Mount Whitney at the finish. Kaeleigh and Diana have traveled the world together and embarked on various long-distance backpacking trips, including the Camino de Santiago, yet the JMT has presented a remarkable and unparalleled amount of planning and logistics. Intrigued by the scope of their trip and inspired by their ambitiousness, I began dreaming up my own adventure to pursue in parallel to theirs.
The premise of taking a series of formless, shapeless thoughts and bringing them into being is fascinating and thrilling to me. I find that planning a trip is like building a product. In my design process, each product starts as an amorphous idea swirling around inside my head. This idea gets transcribed onto paper as a two-dimensional drawing, transfigured into a three-dimensional paper model, and finally transferred onto fabric and built into a functional product that then exists in the world. Similarly, in planning a trip, the indeterminate, nebulous ideas iterate from thoughts to planning, planning to action, action to experience, and from experience to memory. However big or small the impact, this process yields the creation and curation of consciousness and is the imaginative motivator behind this trip.
“While dreams are the individual man's play with reality, the sculptor's art is – in a broader sense – the play with dreams.” - Friedrich Nietzsche
At the end of the bike touring portion, my buddy, Tommy, is going to meet me at the Shepherd’s Pass trailhead outside of Independence, CA. I work with Tommy in the wintertime and he is one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever met. Tommy is a Marine Corps Sergeant who served three tours between Iraq and Afghanistan and spent a year at sea on a warship. He is a former sheriff who became a wilderness camp manager and ski school supervisor, who now spends his free time volunteering within his community, primarily involving the homeless in the Bay Area. Together we’ll hike 14 miles to connect with the JMT and meet Kaeleigh and Diana at the trail intersection. The four of us will spend the next few days hiking along the JMT before summiting Mount Whitney on the morning of September 15th, 2018.
I am thrilled by this undertaking and the creative elements involved. The people, the route, and the gear will form the vessel for this experience, and will carry us along as reality and consciousness unfold. For me, this trip is a reminder to always consider the power and importance of purpose and intent while navigating life.
Stay tuned for Part 2: Route and Logistics…