Category Archives : John Muir Record Attempt

Silver Linings and Bad Hike News 3

John Muir Trail News

Well, we didn’t get a slot for a hike on the trail, which is a huge bummer. We’ll probably still do some sort of hike, but we won’t have a chance to set any kind of record or hike a major trail. I’m a little bummed out and stuff.

Only a little, though. True to predictions, I did an incline bench press with 500 pounds. Now, to be clear, that’s not exactly hulk territory (the guy who used the machine before me had 540 on there), but here’s the thing; it’s the strongest I have ever been. And it’s a huge jump in just three months. I followed that up by doing 220 calf raises with a 220 barbell on my shoulders, in sets of 30 (one 40), interspersed with sets of 8 squats using the same weight.

Again, that’s mediocre-ish for a guy my size, but if I’d tried that in December, I would have passed out and/or killed myself. I turn 28 this Saturday, and I’m the strongest I have ever been. That’s a hell of a silver lining.

And, of course, there are other trails out there.

We’re still planning on doing some sort of hike, but I’m not sure exactly which one yet. I’ll keep you updated!

No Monday Cities of the Mind

I took a Day Off yesterday. Mostly because my sleep schedule has been bonkers lately–an interesting new sort for me. I’m usually either Awake or Asleep. Which, I know, is normal for humans, but I mean that if I’m having sleep troubles I’m awake for 24-30+ hours then out like the dead for 12, then rinse and repeat. My states of wakefulness have, for lack of a better description, oodles of inertia. I don’t have trouble staying awake, and I once slept through a car crashing through my bedroom wall. The last few nights, I’ve been sleeping in 2-3 hour bursts, and tired the whole time. Even melatonin hasn’t been able to impact this particularly.

Strange stuff, right?

Anyway, that’s all there is for me at the moment, have a great week,




MNiC Feat Stairmastery2


2 AM, the gym is almost empty. Everyone in the place is there because they’ve got a good reason, or because they’ve got nowhere else to go. I’m one of the former, I hope. I’m training for the Big Hike. Any time you’re on a Stairmaster the metaphor is there; you know, walking and walking, going nowhere. Working so hard to go nowhere.

Then a thought strikes me, Stairmasters are everywhere, someone became a millionaire by inventing this. 

So, that’s kind of interesting, right? I mean, things don’t pop up everywhere unless there’s a need for them. Even AoL could only pull that off for a few years. So that breeds the question, Why is there an overwhelming need for a way to climb stairs, without going anywhere, in a particularly compact manner?

Why does our society place such an emphasis on stairmastery? The answer, of course, is that the need to prepare for mountains significantly outpaces the occurrence of actual mountains. I’m not working hard to go nowhere, I’m working hard to that, when I get to somewhere, it won’t kick my ass.

The problem with mountains is that when they are there, they are there, and they’re not moving. The only way to be ready to climb the big ones is to climb small ones, or fake ones, whatever you can climb to practice for the push that really matters.

A lot of life is like that. We go through the boring (algebra, comma rules, etc.) so that we are ready for the things that matter. I wish people made that point more often, or earlier, or maybe just louder when I was younger.  Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

The reward is pretty fun. I can climb half again as many stairs a third faster than I could when I started training. I did 40 reps on the inclined leg press with eight 45lb plates on it last week, and it wasn’t especially difficult. My 28th birthday is next week, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to break past 500 pounds before then — and not that thing people do where they bend their knees five degrees, and then call it a rep. The full motion. I’ve never, in my life, been at a place where I can move a quarter ton with my legs before. I still don’t feel like I can do it when I look at the plates all stacked on there. I mean, that’s lifting myself, plus another of me on each shoulder. But the math works out.

On a (thematically) related note, I’m now a member of the team over at First Site Guide. I make actual money blogging as Connor Rickett. There were a lot of blogs I didn’t get paid for leading to this moment. And a lot of blogs I did get paid for, floating around out there with other peoples’ names on them.

So anyway, what I’m getting at is that it’s not about the journey, and it’s not about the destination, it’s about developing the necessary musculature and endurance to decide on whatever journey or destination you want.



The Life Lottery

Note: This was written Tuesday. 

Field Trips

Well, I got lost this morning for awhile. I was on my way over to pick up my housemate from the mechanic, and I took a wrong turn, and went on adventure. I guess I still have a bit to learn about Phoenix. We’ve been sitting in a coffee shop for a few hours now, and it’s probably getting on towards done; I figured it might be time to throw together today’s blog.

Work Life

Work life is good right now. I’m the good kind of busy, and I’m loving it. I’m riding that particular high that comes from already having enough money to pay rent next month. A distinct and lovely lack of stress–it’s sort of like turning off a vacuum cleaner; the world is suddenly so quiet and peaceful. I hadn’t even realized someone had been standing on my chest the last couple months, but, hey, I  can breathe.

The first savings goal is to acquire enough to pay for a decent pair of boots.

Applying for Trail Permits

Matt and I applied for trail permits today.

It’s actually a really involved process. There’s a lottery for the Whitney Permit. We need to get that, and once we have that, we can apply for the wilderness sections of the trail. There’s an element of luck involved in just having a window to set the record.

The only choice, though, is full steam ahead, because I need to be ready to go long before I know whether or not I actually will.

Training for Record Attempt

This is going places. I’ve been working out steadily, I’ve found a place to write with a bar setup, so I can work standing. This is important. Feet need to get used to the idea of supporting your body for hours and hours at time.

I’ve not used them yet, but I’ve bought two fifty pound bags of gravel. They’re going to go in my backpack. I’m going to be going on regular walks, first with the fifty, then the hundred, while continuing to train at the gym. Eventually, the stair-climbing in the gym will be combined with the pack.

Right now, I’m doing sessions of half an hour on the stair climber, at a pace that takes me about 2.5 miles, then another couple on the treadmill, and a few bodyweight exercises three times a week. The other days are either rest or weight training days.

I’ve been doing research, and I see I need to do step-down exercises as well. The trick is to shake things up, as well. As the training ramps up, I’ll also be climbing actual mountains in the area more and more often, because that’s how you really get in shape for climbing mountains: climbing mountains.

Already Happy

I’m already really happy with the training. This regimen encompasses a lot more cardio than my usual workouts, and I’ve already noticed a lot more muscle definition, which is pretty cool, but this isn’t about looking fit–this is about endurance. Not even running endurance, but plodding endurance.

I will need to be able to carry 50-60 pounds at a fast walking pace for eighteen hours, several days in a row. That’s going to take some work.

The real key is sticking with it. I can walk fast enough, I can carry the weight, I just need to get to the point where I can manage both at the same time, and that’s just an incremental affair. Like most things in life, it’s not a training montage, it’s constant and continual work until the goal is reached.

The John Muir Record Attempt 1

The Overview

So I have a good friend who wants to set a record. The record he wants to set is actually the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), but we’ve decided to start with the John Muir Trail. We’ve done the math, done the research, and we think we can do it. We’d be making the attempt (if we win the lottery for it) this summer.

The John Muir Trail (which I’ve already hiked part of) runs from Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48, through the Sierras, including King’s Canyon and Sequoia, and into Yosemite. It’s actual part of the PCT, so it will be a good test run, no matter what happens.



You can find out more about both trails here.


The Hike

This isn’t an easy hike. It’s 211-ish miles through altitudes as high as 14,505′. And we need to do it in less than 78 hours. This is back country, wilderness .  .  . the trail is clearly marked, but you share it with deer and bears. That sort of place.

It’s also a hike through the parts of the country that inspired the national park system. Some of the most beautiful country on the planet. It’s a place out of dreams.


The Campaign

We are planning to go all the way with this record attempt. We’ll be filming it; Matt’s even got a camera drone. We’re going on an adventure, and we want you to come along for the ride. We’re also planning on grabbing as wide an audience as we can. We’re planning on a social media campaign, maybe some crowdfunding, definitely sponsors if we can get some.


The Training

Here’s the truth: We should have been training for this all year. Instead we’ve go six months. I think we can do it, but that means we’re going to be training hard. I’ve been hitting the gym almost daily since the end of January. I’m even doing cardio.

I hate cardio.

But I’m doing cardio, because in six months I’ll need pistons for legs and gas tanks where my guts go. I can already keep up the pace we need to keep up easily, I just need to be able to do it with a 50-100 pound pack above the treeline for 70-something hours.

We’re also, starting a month before our hike, going to switch to the Uberman sleep schedule.


What You Can Expect

Well, the journey starts here and now, not six months from. We don’t know for sure if we’ll be able to go, or when, yet, because there’s a lottery system for selecting backcountry permits. Still, we need to start training last year, so that’s going to be happening. We’ll be logging progress, looking at the things we need to do, and so on.

I’ll be saving up for a decent pair of boots.

Our thinking is that, worst case, we have to settle for being in awesome shape and walking through one of the most beautiful places on the planet. I think we’ll do a bit more than that, though.


More to come,

Connor Rickett