The John Muir Trail

This past month Jake and I have been talking about a summer hike and decided that we are going to do the 211 mile John Muir Trail!

We are both very excited. May is a planning and preparation month and we will begin end of May/beginning of June.

I ordered the best John Muir Trail guidebook in kindle form for me and a paperback for Jake. The definitive map set should arrive Wednesday.

I have read all of the text and most the appendices, and while it will be a fun trip, the planning is somewhat more difficult than East Coast/AT distance hiking. Unlike the AT guidebooks with distances to each shelter and water source in addition to elevations and route finding, the JMT and PCT guides lack that level of detail. Luckily, unlike many sections of the PCT, water is prevalent on the JMT, and there is enough info about locations of pre-existing campsites and water sources to make decent plans, but it does require more study and note-taking than back East.

We decided to walk the traditional North to South route to help us ease into the elevations, for greater ease of shuttling from the end back to the start, and because of the Northern terminus in Yosemite Valley. Jake and I spent two fantastic days in Yosemite back in 2009 and are excited to return.

The first two weeks of April, I was very down and decided not to fight it but to simply take time with my grief and feel the feelings instead of trying to push them down. The past two weeks I have been more active. I restarted my exercise routine with stretches and abdominal work and have done many local hikes. The past week, I loaded my hiking pack to 35 pounds and have started hiking with that to get used to carrying the weight again.

It is difficult to prepare for hiking in the 12,000-14,000 ft elevations we will soon meet, but we do live about 5,500 ft high and have several local hikes that offer 1,000-2,000 ft elevation swings and peaks up to 7,600 ft. This week I intend to continue working locally with my full pack, and next week Jake and I will do a trek to Flagstaff and climb the San Francisco peaks – 12,600 ft up.

Yesterday I did a fairly level and smooth hike, but 10+ miles with a 35 pound pack is still a good day. The tunnel that takes you under a roadway from a parking area to the trail was flooded from a recent rain and I walked through it knowing that soon, I won’t have a choice. My shoes dried out quickly, but with a huge blister starting to form around mile 6, I knew which socks would not be making the trip. I was a little sore today, but I popped that sucker and we did a nice three-mile loop.

Cows on the Iron King Trail - 4/27/12
Cows on the Iron King Trail - 4/27/12

I have been using Jake’s trekking poles and quickly decided that I need to get my own. But the poles and a bear canister are the only new pieces of equipment that I need for the journey.

Once we get the maps, and become more familiar with the trail guides, we will get more detailed, but for now we are looking at three weeks. The biggest factor yet to work out is the food resupply. There are lots of options, but we need to tailor them to our trip or vice-versa. Three roughly 70 miles stints between supply stops would be great.

More will be revealed, but for now, I am just excited.

If you are curious, this relatively short blog has an interesting account of a JMT thru-hike.

3 thoughts on “The John Muir Trail”

  1. Most re-supply at Red’s Meadow Resort because it’s situated at the common 4-6 day interval from both north trailheads and south re-supply outposts. One of the perks of these re-supply posts is the giveaway food and toiletries – astonishing amounts of unused good stuff that hikers leave behind because they mailed more than they can carry away. It’s entirely possible to avoid sending any re-supply bucket and get more food than you’ll need to continue your trip for free, although it’s usually the more mundane, generic, heavy and home-made items that get left behind. Most will receive and deliver mail, provide internet connectivity and sell common hiking supplies like stove fuel and bug spray. All allow trash dropoff.

    • Thanks for sharing. You confirmed a few items i was unsure of: fuel re-supply and trash drop-off! We are going to hit Tuolumne and Red’s Meadow. We will have some friends along for the Happy Isles to Tuolumne portion and will have a car pre-positioned there, so we may as well leave ourselves a box or plan to supplement from the store and carry either less weight, or a few heavier food goodies for the first leg of the trip. Thanks again for contributing and sharing your knowledge!

  2. Yikes! Looks like the road to Red’s Meadow/Devil’s Postpile is closed, which makes me wonder about the store or facilities being open… I have an email out to Red’s Meadow Resort now. Fingers crossed! But we may have to hump food from Tuolumne to VVR…

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