I’m planning a tentative JMT thru-hike for this upcoming summer, and am curious if your 6-pack list order is in this particular order because of difficulty?
That’s exactly right. Each is a little more difficult, although after a certain point it really comes down to what kind of night you had beforehand. Baldy is fine right now, although that could change anytime. I have some friends who love to do Baldy in the winter, but they gear up (crampons, ice axe) and go straight up the Bowl. They’ve even spent the night on top, snow camping. Overnight snow camping on top of Baldy is a little extreme for my tastes, but I’d love to summit Baldy in the snow sometime.
When I was training for my last JMT, we started this time of year with “lowland” hikes. We’d do one or two pretty easy weeknight hikes and a longer hike on the weekend. You could easily do a run or something instead, if that’s your thing. When daylight savings time started in March is when we kicked it up a notch. We did a 6.5 miler every Monday night, then a 5 miler Wednesday night, and a longer hike on Saturdays… AND started carrying weighted backpacks on those weekend hikes.
For weight, we used old 1-gallon water jugs. We’d fill up 3 or 4 and put them in our backpacks. When we got to the high point of the trail, we could (if we chose) dump the water. Going downhill the extra weight just wears out the joints and doesn’t help so much.
The beginning of April we did the Trans-Catalina Trail. The weather was AMAZING, the scenery fantastic and we got a chance to dial-in our backpack gear. Good training.
One of the challenges we encountered with the Six-Pack of Peaks was snow. I had to check with the ranger station regularly to confirm conditions near the peak and make sure the trail was open. Cucamonga, San Bernardino, San Jacinto and San Gorgonio all had some patches of snow we had to cross. Trekking poles were handy. Some of our fellow hikers also had micro-spikes, but the patches were irregular enough that this was usually more of a pain than it was worth.
We started the Six Pack at the end of May and hit one each Saturday.
Joan and I were discussing this just the other night, and the one thing she would’ve done even more of is carrying a weighted backpack. There is no substitute.
Hope this helps!