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Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Has anyone here ever hiked all or part of the 191-mile John Muir Trail?

Asked by Espiritus_Corvus (17269points) July 12th, 2016

I miss California so much. I especially miss the redwoods, sitting at the edge of a 200 ft. cliff staring at the Pacific smashing against the rocks below, the amazing vistas into the San Joaquin valley and the arid vastness of Nevada from seven thousand feet, the pristine lakes atop the Sierras… I once gazed west beyond Sacramento across the valley one hundred miles to San Francisco from the top of the Sierras on a rare clear day.

I was just thinking about the Muir Trail. I had a chance to hike it once years ago and I passed. What a shame. It’s probably the only thing left on my bucket list.

Has anyone here ever done it? Would you describe it?

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13 Answers

Rarebear's avatar

My brother in law did it last summer. He loved the experience but it took about 6 months of planning.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Thanks, @Rarebear

Calling zenvelo… Calling zenvelo…

Rarebear's avatar

I’ve backpacked several parts of the JMT. Just not the whole thing. It’s gorgeous, but it isn’t easy hiking.

zenvelo's avatar

Yes, I have been on parts of it, at various times.

When I was 12, my scout troop hiked from Yosemite Valley up into the back country behind Half Dome. We made it almost to the border of the Park. That was grueling, especially with gear from before lightweight nylon packs and with a cloth sleeping bag that was little more than a thick blanket.

When I was twenty, five of us went in through June Lake, then along the JMT down into Devils Postpile. The area around Thousand Island Lake is one of my favorites.

The section down by Whitney is definitely on my to-do list.

Coloma's avatar

Amazing trail but no, I only have done a few miles, on horseback. haha
Now there’s your adventure, take a mule or a Llama or a pack goat with you. Help along the trail and company too! :-)
Remember what John Muir said ” Sometimes a man just has to get a loaf of bread, throw it in a sack and jump over the back fence.”

I think it only fitting that you come back to your mother land for that hike my friend. :-)

Here ya go.

gondwanalon's avatar

I hiked only a small part that goes through Yosemite. I fantasized about going the entire distance also. But that’s about it. You have to really have a burning desire to do it and it helps to be a very tough hombre.

Brian1946's avatar

I’ve hiked:

Over Kearsarge Pass from Onion Valley.

40 years ago, up to the Half Dome summit from Happy Isles in Yosemite. On the east side of Half Dome, there was a parallel-cable run going to the top, because IIRC, some parts of that slope are about 60ยบ. I was able to bypass the cables by using the excellent exfoliation lips alongside the run. However, I made sure the path of my climb was right next the cable-support poles. ;-)

Night had already fallen on my return trip back to our camp in Little Yosemite Valley. I was by myself, but I heard quadrupedal footsteps behind me. I thought, “Wow, I hope my follower is not of the ursine persuasion”!. I turned back and shined my flashlight on my tracker: it was a…deer.

However, the next day a 250 lbs. bear did come into our campsite and investigated my backpack for edibles. I had already eaten all of my vittles the night before, so I was content to let Smokey sniff away but the fool I was with said, “Let’s make loud noises to scare away the bear”! It didn’t work; Bruno did a 180 whip around, dug her claws into the ground, and hissed at us. I was not expecting a hiss. The bear turned back to my pack, finished her olfactory inspection, and walked off to her next dining attempt.

Also in 1976, we backpacked to the top of Whitney from Whitney Portal. The view of Guitar Lake from the trail crest was magnificent, and well worth almost getting hit by lightning the day before. As I recall, from the summit I looked down and saw a few clouds over a small, deep blue, glacial lake at the foot of Whitney’s east face.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

^^ Beautiful. Thank you everybody. I’m following these stories with a topo map and elevation chart of the trail. It really sounds magnificent. I stumbled across John Muir’s Mountains of California (free download from Project Gutenberg) on the net yesterday and it brought back so many good memories.

Funny. I never get homesick for Florida.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Why not go back to California then. I hear this kind of comment often and wonder why people are not where they want to be. I certainly am. :)

Coloma's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus Oh yes, the almighty $.
If I had the $‘s I’d move higher up in the mountains where it never gets over 85 degrees. haha

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Yeah, higher pastures, I know what you mean. Hey, I found this amazing cache of free ebooks by John Muir on Project Gutenberg I finished The Mountains of California (1894) and am reading The Yosemite (1912) right now. His writing is amazingly engaging. It would be very interesting to read these books along the trail or before the hike to see the changes and what is still unchanged by man. I love knowing more than the rangers and docents.

@Coloma If you haven’t read it already, the PG site above has My First Summer in the Sierra (1911). He explores with the eye of an artist-naturalist and in another time, making him an accidental historian. The book includes some old photos and a lot of his sketches taken from his 1869–71 journal.

Note: Simply click open the page to the book, press Control+A —which is select all—then right click, select copy, then paste the whole book onto a document, then Save. Voila. Or take the Epub or Kindle options.

My First Summer in the Sierra is a first-person narrative that begins on 3 June 1869 when 31 year-old Muir, a draft-dodging, university dropout greenhorn naturalist from back East, only a week off the New York City-to-San Francisco boat, was given charge of a flock of sheep to look after for the next two years assisted only by a St. Bernard named Carlo. And together they head for higher pastures.

“I was fortunate in getting a fine St. Bernard dog for a companion. His master, a hunter with whom I was slightly acquainted, came to me as soon as he heard that I was going to spend the summer in the Sierra and begged me to take his favorite dog, Carlo, with me, for he feared that if he were compelled to stay all summer on the plains the fierce heat might be the death of him. “I think I can trust you to be kind to him,” he said, “and I am sure he will be good to you. He knows all about the mountain animals, will guard the camp, assist in managing the sheep, and in every way be found able and faithful.” Carlo knew we were talking about him, watched our faces, and listened so attentively that I fancied he understood us. Calling him by name, I asked him if he was willing to go with me. He looked me in the face with eyes expressing wonderful intelligence, then turned to his master, and after permission was given by a wave of the hand toward me and a farewell patting caress, he quietly followed me as if he perfectly understood all that had been said and had known me always.”

If you can get past those long, 19th-century paragraphs, this is a great adventure that took place in that part of the range just south of you. You will recognize many of the plants, animals and may have experienced some of the same things as Muir did so long ago.

SmartAZ's avatar

I drove through Tuolumne Meadows once, so it’s possible that I stepped on it or drove across it or something. I considered driving down to see El Capitan, but it was late in the day and I said “What the heck, I’ve seen mountains before.”

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