“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
— john muir, naturalist
While the nature of our more recent adventures has been decidedly more culinary-centric, the first years of our courtship were spent flirting in the wilderness. As fate would have it, both worlds will collide this summer.
In 130 days we head to California to embark upon a two and a half week thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. And while our trip may not be as important for society as this one, it’s still a pretty big deal for us.
Along the way, we’ll travel through more than 200 stunning, self-supported miles of the Sierra Nevada mountain range including Yosemite National Park, John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. At the end of our journey, we’ll be greeted by Mount Whitney which, at 14,505 feet, is the highest summit in the contiguous U.S.
Beyond communing with nature, the trip is significant to us for countless other reasons. First, it’s a celebration of a milestone birthday for me (stop trying to do the math!) Next, it is a nod to our dream (deferred) of hiking the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a perfectly timed challenge for our fascination with making things.
Challenge #1: Fuel
Not that we need any coaxing, but it doesn’t hurt that dark chocolate is a favorite food staple of superstar hiker Andrew Skurka. Burning an average of 5,000 calories per day, this will be the first time we can cram chocolate into our pie holes guilt-free. (I hope it’s not the last.)
Calories aside, the challenge lies in figuring out how to stuff as much of our Batch chocolate as possible into our shared, 3 lb bear canister. Not only will we have limited space, but we’ll have to defy hot, humid hiking conditions to keep the chocolate palatable.
Challenge #2: Protection
I’ve always been a favorite of mosquitoes and blisters so transforming our cacao-inspired body blocks into a natural weapon is at the top of our to-dos. Combined with the exposure we’ll get cresting several 13,000-14,000-foot peaks, we’ve added natural sunscreen to prevent Zan from baking like a Thanksgiving ham.
So no, we won’t be carrying a rifle for bear protection, but we will be armed with natural products concocted in our very own test kitchen. Is it weird that I keep dreaming about a gorgeously designed periodic table poster? (Don’t answer that.)
With an ever overflowing plate of things to do, we readily admit that none of these things are necessary to complete a successful hike of the JMT. They are, nonetheless, the kinds of projects that enthrall us — it seems that when Zan and I got hitched, our ties to everything else in the Universe became ever more apparent.
And, on that note, we’ve got testing to do...