jmt

JMT versus EBC - how do they compare?

Frequently I get the question what trek was harder: the Everest Base Camp trek or the John Muir Trail? Honestly, these two aren't up for comparison at all. The length, miles and facilities (or lack thereof) couldn't be more different. 

When I finished the Everest Base Camp trek I felt amazing. I felt proud, strong and had a ton of inspiration. It felt like I did something that wasn't for everyone, something that makes you hardcore. After the John Muir Trail I felt exhausted, done with hiking and proud. Proud that I finished something that was super hard. Comparing the EBC to JMT was comparing a walk in the park with a walk in a beautiful... hell? 

The people make the trek
I was in luck with the group I had during my EBC trek. We were crying from laughter even when things got hard, dirty and uncomfortable. At one point we were almost literally coughing our lungs out. No sleep and a fever? Haha! Massive headaches and feeling sick? Haha! It was such a great group and I've never experiences something like it. The JMT crew was nothing like it. The overall group dynamics weren't great. It made for a lot of boring tent staring nights, and trust me there are plenty of evenings to kill. 

Facilities
Walking up the route to Everest you come across tea houses, villages and many many people. Only the last two camps were without a "real" toilet. There's warmth through yak poo heaters, there are bottles of coke and pringles and every now and then you'll find a shower! I can be short about the facilities on the JMT. There are non. Only the stuff you bring. No surprise showers, no western pick me ups in the shape of a can, no guitar solo's at the stop of the night. 

Length
The Everest Base Camp trek takes about 9-12 days depending on your schedule. I took 10 and it was the perfect length. Just when I got sick of walking we stopped. During the JMT at day 10 I felt I had enough and I wasn't even half way! This luckily changed later on, but I've learned the hard way that I'm not a 3,5 week hike kinda girl.  

Food
Who doesn't crave a warm, nice meal after a hard day's work? In Nepal I had omelets, pancakes, curry, coffee and pizza. The food was surprisingly good, it's amazing what they can carry up that mountain. Of course, after 10 days I couldn't see another carb and the first thing I ordered when we arrived in the capital was a Greek salad. California served me a wide variety of 'just add water'-dishes. I must say, they were pretty awesome! I only struggled with the breakfast. I just couldn't do it anymore in the end. 

Physical challenge
The trek (EBC) itself wasn't hard at all. The mileage, the going up and going down - if you do a good training before, you good. After the first day of the JMT, a very mild slow day, I thought by myself "HOLY MOLY, HOW IS THIS A CHILLED OUT DAY?" Well, you get used to it. Trust me. Just give it a week. In the end, when the bag got lighter and the body got stronger things got easier. But not easy. The JMT is just a very hard physical trek. At least it was for me. What both treks have in common is the altitude. The Everest Base Camp trek brings you over 5364 meter, which is a lot for the body. The John Muir Trail, if you do the Mt. Whitney summit, brings you up to almost 4.500 meter. The rest of the trek is somewhere between 3-3.500 meters. For me enough to get headaches and feel sick. (I'm from below sea level, don't judge)

So bottomline, the two treks can't be compared at all. Yes, they are both gorgeous treks and both routes are must do's for the hike fanatics. If you are not sure what to do, start with the EBC. This will give you a good idea of how you react to the altitude and gives you a little teaser of roughing it. 

What's your opinion on EBC versus JMT? 

What I always pack when I go hiking

Whether it's a weekend getaway or a full on thru hike, there are always a few things I pack. 

Pillow case
You can make a pillow from your down jacket, the clothes you want to wear the next day or even your backpack. But life is a lot easier when you bring a cotton pillow case. Stuff it all in and your new pillow will be as comfy as the one at home. No more gathering your pillow package in the middle of the night. 

Lightweight string
With 3 meters of lightweight string and an optional handful of pegs you can do your laundry and have them dry before the next day. Nothing beats the old fashioned drying rack, not even warm stones or weird looking branches. That piece of string will save you a lot of time and walking in wet socks. 

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Good luck charm
Call me superstitious, but I always bring a good luck charm. Something given by someone you love. It doesn't have to be a good luck charm, it can be a mascotte or cute key chain. It makes your bag easier to spot and gives you a little reminder of home. 

Pen & paper
You don't have to be a poet to be in need of paper and pen. Drawing a map, making a to do list, writing your memoirs, playing tic tac toe. With some paper and a pen you're never bored. 

Oral rehydration solution
ORS has been a life saver a couple of times. You might get sick, have the worst hangover or are afraid of altitude sickness. ORS does wonders for your system. When things seem terrible and as prevention. 

What do you always pack when you go hiking no matter the duration and destination? Let me know!

How to train for the John Muir Trail

It doesn't matter if you take 1 or 3 weeks to hike the John Muir Trail. What does matter is the level of fitness. Why? The fitter you are, the more fun you'll have! I have a few tips for you on how to train for the John Muir Trail, so you can make the most of it. 

Begin sooner than later
Yes I know. Going to the gym sucks. But believe me when I say that you get used to everything. Or even better: you'll miss it when you skip a training. The trick? Start 6-9 months training in advance and increase the amount of training days as you go. You don't sport at all? Start with 2 days a week. Already very sportive? Pick it up at 3-4 days. The last month you want to be active 5-6 days a week. With a week of rest just before your trip.   

Mix it up
Spending 10 hours a week on a treadmill is one way to give yourself a burnout. It's repetitive, boring and doesn't do much. Therefore: mix it up! In the weeks before I was getting fit for my EBC and JMT trek I was doing a combination of kickboxing, crossfit and running (EBC) and weight training, swimming, cardio (JMT). I'll do a complete workout guide in another blog soon!

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JMT

SOBO or NOBO?
#TeamNOBO

There's no such thing as being too fit
"My training is going so well I can skip tonight." Nope. There's no such thing as being too fit. You won't, I REPEAT, you won't get bored because the JMT is too easy. If the JMT is not a physical challenge, in case you are a super human, there are many side trek options to make the most of it. Mountains everywhere! 

Don't focus on how you look, but how you feel
You can't always tell how strong someone is by looking at their physique. You can be a badass MF under a thin layer of winter fat. You might be a petit fighter with professional wrestling muscle strength. You really can't tell. I've seen people doing 20 pull ups without breaking a sweat who couldn't finish a day of walking. Don't focus too much on how you look or what Instagram labels as "fit". Do you feel good? Like you can walk for days with a big pack? Feeling confident? Then you're ready! 

Make it fun!
You have taken on the JMT adventure because you love to hike. The best way to train for your hike is... to hike. Well, living in the Netherlands well under sea level didn't really give me many options for hike training. So I combined the necessary with the pleasant: slaying on the stairmaster for 30-60 minutes with a 75% pack watching the latest episode of my favourite series. Before you know it you're done! 

Want to know my exact workout regime before my John Muir Trail and/or Everest Base Camp trek? Stay tuned!