Sleep In The Dirt

The Odd Couple

The Campfire Chronicles

No I’m not talking about the hit TV show from the 70’s The Odd Couple, but my recent thru-hike of the John Muir Trail (JMT). Hiking with your complete opposite isn’t easy, but that’s what I basically did.  

I’m tall, he’s short. My legs are long and my pace is fast, both of his are shorter and slower. I cook, he barely eats. My style is intense and more of a “getter done!”, his is like that of an old Labrador Retrieversuper chill and relaxed. 

So why did I choose to attempt the JMT with my good friend Scott a second time? I can answer that with just one word, balance. Scott and I balance each other out. Without Scott, I would blast through the hike in no time, possibly missing some of it. On the flip side, Scott needed me to help stay on some sort of a schedule and finish in the time allotted to us. 

This year’s trip wasn’t Scott’s first, second, or third attempt of the JMT, but his fourth. Having explored much of the Sierra’s during his teens, Scott was eager to revisit the area that opened his eyes to the outdoors and what it had to offer.  

“YES, nothing is going to stop me this time!” Those were the words Scott proclaimed when I asked if he wanted to attempt the JMT with me again. In 2017, we were forced off the trail when Scott started suffering from altitude sickness. The result was a trip to the emergency room in Long Pine, CA, where we found out he had a bronchial infection.  

This year on the morning of Day 4, only about 3 miles into the day, Scott rolled his ankle so badly you could hear the pop of the tendon over our conversation! My first thought was “oh shit, we’re going back to the emergency room in Lone Pine again!” True to his proclamation, Scott bit the bullet and soldiered on for the next 9 days. 

We finished the JMT in just under thirteen days and averaged 18.8 mile per day. The JMT did not disappoint. Both Scott and I were in awe of the sights and the overall experience despite it not be either one of our firsts to the Sierra.  

The balance that Scott and I bring to each other isn’t just limited to being on the trail. Scott runs his own company, and now I do as well. The planning of our trips has been a great way to remember to slow down and do things for ourselves. In other words, a way to charge our batteries and spend time in the great outdoors. 

About the author: Craig Fowler is a professional adventurer and motivator. He is the only person to have completed both the thru-hiking and bikepacking triple crowns. Fowler shares his knowledge through his stories and guides on his website, oneofsevenproject.com. Follow Craig on Instagram @oneofsevenproject 

Comments (5)

5 responses

  1. Karen

    How does one “bikepack” the PCT? No bicycles are allowed on the trail.

  2. Kathy

    Short but fun still fun to read. I too have hiked the JMT. The first time I was forced off the trail at Red’s Meadows because of all the smoke in the air. With asthma, that became a problem. The next year I completed it in 3 weeks. A lot longer than it took the two of you, but I hiked with a couple of others and we took some days to visit with folks as well as recoup our feet (the back of my heel was literally pealed away). I love backpacking but now a bit too old to carry a heavy pack for a long distance. I hike with my grandson and we take llamas. He started hiking with me when he was 7. When he was 8, we started doing the Colorado Trail (I had packed it 10 years before) using llamas to carry our gear. Last year we couldn’t finish the last few sections because of the avalanche debris. Not safe for the llamas. We hope to finish it this summer. He is 11 and ready to go! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Jonathan

    I would say that hiking 18.8 miles a day is not what I would call ‘slowing down.’ But then, better to get guys like you on your way through-hiking so the rest of us can enjoy really slowing down.

  4. Sharon Shields

    It’s awesome to be able to not only enjoy the similarities, but also the differences that make each one of us ‘unique’. Exactly what nature intended! The similarity is in enjoying the beautiful outdoors in all it’s glory and doing that together in friendship. That is the common thread. This World has so much beauty to offer and it’s during these moments and trips that there are no differences within us.

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