The John Muir Trail, (aka JMT), is one of the longest stretches of trails in the US that does not cross a road. For ~211 miles, the trail wanders from the floor of Yosemite Valley (at 4000 feet), up and over many high passes on its way to Mount Whitney. Mount Whitney, at almost 14, 500 is the tallest peak in the Lower 48. The spectacular trail cuts through the deep interior of the Sierras.
Elevation profile by Brian O’Kelly
That’s a lot of up and down! One person calculated that there is 84,000 feet of elevation change over the course of the trail… we have at least 3/4 of the trail left, so only around 60,000 feet of climbing and descending for us. Piece of cake, right?
This trail is one of the gems of the nation, and has been on both of our bucket lists for quite some time. In fact, last September Barbara and I came out here to give it a go. My plan was to propose to her at the end of the trail, atop Mount Whitney. Unfortunately, after 3 days of backpacking, I managed to injure my foot, and we had to prematurely exit the trail. (instead I proposed here).
So we are back. We will start where we left off- at Reds Meadow, near Mammoth Lake. With the sun setting to our right, we will hike for 9 days, covering about 18 miles a day to the finish. Taking on a trip like this presents some interesting challenges. The major challenge is that due to poor hiker etiquette in the past, the black bears along the trail associate backpackers with Snickers and beef jerky. Because of this, we have to carry all of the food that we need in bear proof canisters- think extra large, thick plastic childproof pill bottles. We are not stopping anywhere to resupply, so we need to fit all of the food we need for into two cans. These 18-20 pound, super calorie dense cans will hopefully be enough to keep us energized.
So, the plan is to start the trail on August 13th, and finishing on the 21st. No cell phone or computers out there, so you wont hear from us for a little while. Wish us luck!