Like any other largely irrational choice I've made, the decision to hike the JMT happened without much thought. Lying in a hospital bed, informed of a lengthy recovery, I decided that when I could walk again, I was going to walk. Like, a lot.
On August 7th, 2019, I was hit by a car while jogging, because I'd missed the memo that hitting a jogger in a crosswalk was legal and fine in LA. The first responders were amazing and made sure I was mostly intact, and then got down to the hard questions. "So, why were you jogging, anyway? I heard it's bad for your knees." They were also amazed that I was relatively unharmed, at least in a "just got hit by a car" sort of sense.
As I declined the ambulance and got in my lyft to the local hospital, the first responders said one last thing, and I'd have a difficult time getting it out of my head for a long time: "At that speed, man, you probably should've died." And they were right. According the the research I found, a 40 mph collision has a 40-60% fatality rate. I walked away with some full-body muscle damage and two very broken toes. But all things considered, I'm incredibly lucky. And I can't put my finger on it, but something about being confronted with the startling fragility of your own mortality really gives you the urge to enact some Grand Plans and be a little more serious with your bucket list. Which brings us to the JMT.
Years earlier, I was wrapping up a weeklong hike on a modified version of the High Sierra Trail (HST); as we approached Mt. Whitney, we were suddenly surrounded by dirty, smelly, trail-ragged hikers. "Those are the JMTers," someone said. And in that moment, I knew that I wanted that to be me. More than anything. So it got added to the bucket list, and largely neglected until what came to be known as The Whole Car Thing.
And so I got a northbound permit, COVID hit, I dialed in my ultralight(ish) gear from the couch, I told myself I would run to get in shape, didn't, dehydrated all my own food, hoped it would fit in my bear can, and drove to Whitney Portal. And on August 7th, 2020, I took my first steps on the JMT. Yosemite, here I come.