John Muir

There’s a reason that “Backpacker Magazine” ranked California’s John Muir Trail as the best Hike in the World in it’s November 2010 issue.

Stretching 211 miles from Yosemite Valley to the summit of the contiguous United States’ highest peak, Mount Whitney, it rambles through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery that the heart and mind could conceive. Most of your days are spent above 10,000 feet, where you’ll experience the High Sierras in all of it’s grandeur and beauty.

Construction of the trail began in 1915 after the passing of its namesake Sierra Club founder and conservationist ninja John Muir (whose writings and efforts are responsible for the protection of not only most of the lands that the trail goes through, but all protected wild places around the world.) The trail was completed in 1938.

211 miles – Happy Isles (Yosemite Valley) to Mount Whitney

We’ll save you the trip to Wikipedia:

211 miles (for the record, that only gets you to the top of MT. Whitney.
You still have to hike back down.

Happy Isles (Yosemite Valley) or Whitney Portal

Elevation Change:
80,000 feet (24,000m)

Areas Hiked through:
Yosemite, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Devils Postpile National Monument,
John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.

Some perspective on how far 211 miles is

Give or take a few miles, think of walking from:

Los Angeles to Las Vegas
(Make sure to look at the worlds largest thermometer in Baker)

New York To Boston
(Figure out whether you prefer Manhattan or New England Chowder)

Chicago to Detroit
(Not advised in winter)

Houston to Dallas
(Not advised in summer, spring or fall)

London to Manchester
(For our friends on the British Isles)

Paris to Antwerp
(For our friends on the continent)

Rome to Balogna
(For our friends on the boot)

Tokyo to Kyoto
(For Kaz)

Other Thru Hikes In the United States

Trail Distance Description
Appalachian Trail 2,178 Miles The original thru-hike from Georgia to Maine.
Pacific Crest Trail 2,654 Miles Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington.
Continental Divide Trail 3,100 Miles Mexico to Canada through the Rockies.
Colorado Trail 483 Miles Denver to Durango.
The Wonderland Trail 93 Miles Circumnavigates Mount Rainier.
The Long Trail 272 Miles The oldest Long distance hike in the US.

So You want to Hike the John Muir Trail

Here are a few of the resources that we found helpful:

There are several guide books available we used “John Muir Trail: The essential guide to hiking America’s most famous trail,” by Elizabeth Wenk and Kathy Morey. It’s thin and nice and light too.

We can pretend that technology doesn’t exist, and spending a month or so in the wilderness is a good way to do it, but these smart phones are pretty darn handy tools to have. You won’t get reception along most of the JMT, but there are several apps that we found really helpful. The John Muir Trail Mapset and National Geographic National Parks Maps which are both GPS enabled were a great asset to have. They are not to be relied upon solely for navigation, but they certainly helped. Also, you can load books, Magazines, Music and games for sleepless nights in the tent. Also, unless you are a really serious photographer the video and pictures on these newer Iphones and androids are really, really good. So when you think about saving the weight of a camera, book and backgammon set not bad. As for power, look up the best setting for long battery life. On the iphone airplane mode is great. Just switch it off if and when using the GPS. Also there are some solar chargers and cases with batteries built in to extend battery life.

Lastly, it’s not hard to search the trail on google to get info, but Jason can’t recommend the Yahoo! JMT user group enough. He says, “They are a great bunch of folks. Really helpful, and prompt with answers to any question posted.”

For food prep and purchase, Jen recommends:

About John Muir

Muir has become a folk hero as the father of the conservation movement. He was the first president of the Sierra Club until his death in 1914, and it is said today that more places in California are named in his honor than for any other person. He is even depicted on the California state quarter. However, his contributions to the Sierra were broader, as he published many scientific articles and was also an energetic hiker and mountaineer. Our humble thanks to this man that made the journey possible.

But Jason’s recommendation is to go to a used book store or library and get your hands on one of his books. If you’re not the reading type then check out one or both of these great documentaries from PBS.

The National Parks: Americas Best Idea (By Ken Burns)

American Masters: John Muir In The New World (Keep an eye out for one of our idols, photographer and Ostrander ski hutmaster Howard Weamer playing Muir in the re-enactments)