The John Muir Trail is a long distance trail located in the iconic Sierra Nevada mountain range in California, spanning 211 miles and climbing around 47,000 feet in elevation. There must be a few reasons why I’m willing to subject myself to this challenging hike, up and over multiple mountain passes, fording rushing rivers, and camping every night for just over 3 weeks in the wilderness. There is no question about it, I am drawn to nature. A strong magnetic pull keeps me dreaming about it day in and day out. When I’m in the wild, I feel a sense of freedom, wonder, joy. Every little piece of life, every drop of water, every scene intrigues me. In a world dominated by technology, I want to reconnect with where I came from. Every step I take into nature, I feel closer and closer to reaching something untouchable.
My partner Darren and I will begin our hike mid August at the southern end. This is the less desired route, as the elevation is much higher, so a few days of acclimatization are in order before we begin our hike. This route also adds around 30 extra miles to our trek. We plan to summit Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 at 14,505 feet, just a few nights into the hike. Most people end their hike here, setting their sights on Mt. Whitney as the end goal. The challenge of summiting at the beginning is a little daunting, but I believe trusting your intuition and listening to your body is key.
We are taking our time, 24 days, to fully enjoy the scenery. We could blaze through, but we want a chance to explore off trail if desired and to fish in the backcountry. The lakes are said to be teeming with trout- can you imagine hiking all day, catching a fish and cooking it for dinner! Sounds like the simplest kind of pleasure I could dream up. We won’t rely on fishing as a meal source, but it would be a welcome morale booster.
The weather is likely to be mild, but mother nature can be unpredictable with rogue lightning, hail storms and nights below freezing. Mountain passes are best summited in the morning, before the afternoon storms (and lightning!) roll in. River crossings could prove to be difficult depending on snowfall early in the year. This year is looking ok for our start date, but late season could bring lots of snow! If the snowfall stays in the normal range, mosquitoes will also be less of a concern to none.
There is going to be a lot of planning involved in the months leading up to the hike. We have started training with lots of variation in exercise such as running, using the stair machine, hill climbing, walking, intervals, body weight training, yoga and one hike a week. I’m documenting our hikes via blog to hold myself accountable! Once it warms up we hope to hike much more often and with full packs. We will be doing lots of gear testing with new and old equipment as well as meal planning. Last year I experimented with dehydration with some great results. Food is fuel. I want to make sure we have the nutrients we need to feel our best every day, so I plan on assembling many of our meals for resupply.
All in all, I’m hoping my time on the JMT will get me closer to understanding myself, the world around me, and fulfill this constant desire to be in the wild.