JMT 26. 8. – 27. 8. 2019 – Pre-hike Los Angeles

(all images are clickable for a larger version)

My journey started with the bus and train transfer to Frankfurt airport (FRA) on Friday, July 26th. I had plenty of time as I left home before 8 am and the flight departed after 2 pm, and thus could easily compensate a one-hour delay in the train system.

My luggage comprised my cabin bag, a separate photo bag, and a rugged army duffelbag weighting 22 kg which contained the backpack and most of the other gear plus some food. The total weight was above 30 kg, so I tried to minimize carrying. Checking in the baggage was a bit complicated because the normal check-in counter did not accept the duffelbag, and I was sent to a special counter for bulky luggage though the dimensions were within the regular limits. Advantage: there was nearly no queue, and I had my bag checked in after few minutes.

The flight was nonstop to LA with Lufthansa, departed and arrived on schedule. During the 10 h duration I stayed awake, eating, avoiding alcoholic beverages but accepting every tea I could get, talking with a group of French travelers sitting around me, watching a movie and reading in one of the JMT guides. I still was quite awake when we arrived after 4 pm PDT (1 am CEST). The immigration process went smooth after I had answered the first question – what I will do in the US – the officer told me about his own hiking experiences overseas. Noone wanted to see my customs declaration.

Outside the terminal, after some waiting, the shuttle bus to Enterprise arrived. It was close to 6 pm until I had finished the process there which seemed to be overly complicated because it was a one-way rental. My old grey driver license with a photo from 1978 was accepted with some concern.

So I had a car, a phone with a US SIM card, and a motel reservation. After a 30 mins drive I arrived there and got my room. Enough for today!

Saturday morning I started early as I had quite some tasks to complete:

    • Home Depot: buy three 5 gallon buckets with lid, duct tape and a big cardboard box
    • WalMart: buy food
    • Target: buy more food
    • Find an ATM to get some cash
    • REI: pick up the preordered bear can, and buy some more gear like gloves, a map of Mt Whitney zone, two gas canisters, and a good assortement of Mountain House menus

Though I was in a WalMart superstore the food selection was not impressive. A big supermarket in Germany has more variety. I could not buy special products like dried vegetables off the shelf but should have preordered them days before and then wait in a queue to pick up my items at a counter. There were only few cash desks open with inefficient operators – I waited nearly half an hour – customers should use self-scanning under the supervision of an employee. It was a bad customer service experience. I will not return.

Target was much better, I got some of the missing items like BabyBel cheese, two big cans of cashews and Swiss Miss cocoa. Also bought a set of lighters, and then felt I had all I would need for survival.

The ATM allowed me to withdraw a maximum of 120$, at a 6$ service charge. Luckily I still had some cash from my last stay so it was enough to pay for bus and shuttle service.

At REI my preorder 4 weeks earlier has gone wrong though I had got a confirmation from them that they keep my items until I pick them up. But I was lucky, they had BV500 bear cans on the shelf, and also gave me the special Independence Day sales price. Friendly people, smooth business.

When I returned to my hotel it was late afternoon. In the evening I tried to stuff the bear can with the food for the first stretch, and then prepared the three buckets for Onion Valley, Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) and Red’s Meadow. VVR to Red’s is only three days so there was much space left in the VVR bucket which I filled with a 1.5 l bottle of Californian red wine and 3 Pringle tubes. Lots of ziplock bags for couscous, milk powder (NestlĂ© Nido), granola mix, Skratch hydration powder had to be filled and partitioned. It got quite late until I had finished all but obviously my inner clock had already adapted well to the local time.