Kristin Hanes shares her expertise climbing the John Muir Path in California. Tips on how to pack, what to eat and what she did fallacious. That is the proper information for planning your hike.
“The ants go marching one after the other, hurrah, hurrah, the ants go marching one after the other hurrah, hurrah!” The music pounded relentlessly via my head as I focused on placing one foot in entrance of the opposite.
My backpack dug into my hips and shoulders. Massive boulders and talus rocks littered the dusty path. I knew if I appeared too far up the path, I’d flip round. Sit down. Quit. It was the fourth excessive altitude mountain move of the week, and I used to be exhausted.
“The ants go marching one after the other, hurrah, hurrah!”
One foot in entrance of the opposite. Breathe out and in. Take a break, flip round to survey the surroundings, and weep at its exceptional magnificence. Hold strolling and climbing, day in and time out, till you are feeling such as you may break.
That’s what it’s like climbing the 221-mile John Muir Path via California’s Sierra Nevada.
All the John Muir Path is 220 miles however we began additional south and ended about 20 miles early. In whole, we nonetheless did 230 miles.
Map: John Muir Path Map
The path is well-marked however I believe individuals nonetheless have to deliver alongside a map. You should buy a map of John Muir Path on Amazon. We used waterproof maps by Tom Harrison.
Concerning the John Muir Path
The John Muir Path is among the most brutal and most rewarding issues I’ve ever achieved in my life.
It took us 22 days of climbing from daybreak to nightfall via a few of the most unimaginable mountain surroundings in america. Assume lush, hidden valleys, crystal clear creeks, brilliant blue tarns, and beautiful alpine vistas.
Many of the path is over 10,000 toes in elevation and consists of six mountain passes, certainly one of which tickles 14,000 toes. And if you would like (and we did), you possibly can summit Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain within the contiguous United States at 14,505 toes.
The John Muir path is just not for the faint of coronary heart, or from individuals who endure altitude illness. I took excessive altitude medication for 3 days earlier than tackling the path, and 5 days earlier than summiting Whitney, and I nonetheless threw up and nearly handed out on my descent.
However what I realized on this hike is that this: the physique adapts, the mindset is essential, and ending a thru-hike of this magnitude is a life-changing expertise. I’ll by no means be so match and so tuned in with nature as I used to be on the finish of my hike.
Would I do it once more? Possibly. Would I like to recommend others do it? Positively.
Sound like one thing you need to do? Right here’s the right way to sort out the path.
John Muir Path Permits
Touchdown a allow to hike the John Muir path is among the hardest elements about this hike. Individuals from everywhere in the world fly to California to sort out this winding mountain path removed from civilization.
What which means is that this: You’re competing with 1000’s to get a allow.
The most well-liked path to hike the John Muir Path is from Yosemite Valley and exiting via the Mount Whitney Portal.
To cope with the inflow of demand, Yosemite solely permits 45 hikers per day to exit the park through the John Muir Path. Meaning the variety of permits could be very restricted.
Regardless that most individuals need to begin from the valley ground, there are a number of different trailheads inside Yosemite the place you possibly can start your hike.
When making use of, it’s good to place a number of trailhead choices in your allow.
One other widespread option to get a allow is to modify instructions solely and hike from south to north.
We tried day-after-day for a month or two for a allow out of Yosemite, however after we failed, we picked up a allow from Cottonwood Meadows northbound. That meant we had two full days of climbing earlier than we met up with the John Muir Path, and one additional excessive mountain move.
Should you don’t need to hike all the path, you possibly can enter midway, or three-quarters of the way in which, from certainly one of many trails that joins up with the John Muir Path.
Tips on how to Pack Meals For the John Muir Path
The one massive mistake I made when packing for the John Muir Path is that this: I did our meals all fallacious.
We began our hike carrying 12 days of meals, and all of it didn’t match inside our bear-proof containers. That meant we needed to hike far sufficient day-after-day to search out campsites with bear containers.
Plus, I picked all of the fallacious meals.
Issues like heavy packs of tortillas, rolls of sausages, exhausting cheese. When carrying this a lot meals, it’s vital to go freeze-dried.
Each certainly one of our meals ought to have been freeze-dried for this 12-day stretch. I ought to have been meticulous about our pack weight.
I’m embarrassed to say that after we began our hike our packs should have weighed 65-pounds every. That’s approach an excessive amount of weight when climbing over mountain passes in excessive elevation.
We scheduled two meals drops for our hike: one at Muir Path Ranch after 12 days of climbing, and one other 5 days later at Reds Meadow.
If I did this hike once more, I’d schedule a 3rd meals drop so I wouldn’t have to hold a lot meals at a time.
Pack weight is every thing whenever you’re clocking 12+ miles per day with 6,000 toes of achieve/loss.
Pack a Number of Meals
One other useful meals tip is to deliver a wide range of meals.
You’ll become bored with the identical taste of protein bars day after day. I keep in mind how excited I used to be when a few hikers gifted us two completely different flavors of ProBar. These bars tasted like heaven!
We had been additionally fortunate to be gifted some dried apricots and chocolate from one other group of hikers and solely walked about 10 steps earlier than scarfing the treats down mid-stride.
Change issues up in terms of your backpacking meals. And keep in mind to deliver some enjoyable treats like peanut butter M&Ms or Snickers bars to perk you up whenever you’re feeling down.
In every meals drop, I packed some smoked salmon that we might eat proper then and there. It was AMAZING.
Breakfast: Oatmeal packets, freeze-dried fruit, powdered complete milk, freeze-dried sausage, freeze-dried refried beans, ProBars. light-weight granolaSnacks: Bars of all kinds, Variety Bars, Professional Bars, Snickers Bars, Peanut M&Ms, path combine, (we did not have sufficient salty meals…I want we had packed extra chips or Fritos or one thing salty), additionally vitality boosters like Stingers are goodLunches: I like to recommend not carrying 12 days of meals, I believe having some “actual” meals morsels like parmesan cheese or dried fruit goes a good distance. We would additionally eat peanut butter on crackers or tortillas, or tuna packetsDinners: I made my very own freeze-dried meals, however I additionally purchased Mountain Home meals. We additionally had ramen, sizzling tea, and sizzling apple cider. I would advocate bringing a little bit container of olive oil for additional energy with dinner.
Consuming Water on the Path
You’ll be consuming out of lakes, rivers, and streams on the John Muir Trails, so you will need to pack a water filter system. We used the Sawyer Squeeze System, however be at liberty to advocate any water filtration product. It weighs simply three ounces, and we stuffed up the pouch with water from the backcountry after which squeezed it via the filter for clear consuming water.
Dave and Deb advocate the SteriPen.
You possibly can watch the video to see the way it works.
You possibly can select any water purification that works for you.
John Muir Path Packing Listing
It’s crucial to pack garments and kit for every type of climate when climbing the John Muir Path. Excessive mountain climate can go from sunny and heat to raining in minutes, and a few thru-hikers have encountered snow on the increased elevations.
Listed here are the garments I dropped at hike the path:
Two pairs of wool socksTwo pairs of underwearTwo sports activities brasOne pair of lengthy climbing pantsOne pair of shortsOne short-sleeved climbing shirtOne long-sleeved sun-shirtOne wool sweaterOne hatOne pair of lengthy john bottomsOne puffy down coatOne raincoatRain pantsOver-ankle climbing bootsTevasA sunhat
We did “laundry” each night time, which meant “washing” our garments in a close-by stream.
Defending the surroundings
Take note we by no means used cleaning soap in or close to the water!
We simply dunked and scrubbed our garments utilizing recent spring water, then hung them as much as dry on a clothesline in a single day. Typically, we hiked with our moist garments dangling from our backpacks, letting the Sierra sunshine dry them.
I want to point out one thing about solar clothes. Every single day climbing the John Muir Path, I wore lengthy pants, a long-sleeved shirt and a solar hat to guard my pores and skin from the brutal high-altitude sunshine.
This additionally meant I infrequently wore sunscreen. It’s nice to hike with out sunscreen as a lot as attainable as sunscreen can hurt the fragile ecosystem if it will get within the water.
Should you do have to put on sunscreen, put on a bodily barrier sunscreen that comprises zinc oxide slightly than a chemical sunscreen.
How the John Muir Path modified me
About ten days into our hike, we determined to trudge eight miles out of the way in which all the way down to Vermillion Valley Resort for a much-need half-day off.
We drank beer, ate burgers, and chatted with different thru-hikers. We did laundry and took a bathe.
What I keep in mind is that this: the scent of the laundry detergent smelled unhealthy. Deodorant smelled unhealthy. So did shampoo and conditioner. The odor of all these washed garments in my tent nearly made me gag. We’d develop into so accustomed to the scents of nature that the scents of “civilized” humanity grew to become nearly insufferable.
I additionally keep in mind sleeping within the tent that night time, leaping once I heard a automotive engine begin. I hadn’t heard a automotive engine in nearly two weeks! Automotive doorways slamming additionally startled me. Our senses had develop into finely tuned the longer we spent in nature.
Once we lastly completed the John Muir Path, I used to be in shock. There have been too many automobiles driving too quick. Too many loud vacationers smelling of fragrance, lugging cameras. Listening to music on the automotive stereo felt alien.
I wasn’t able to re-enter civilization, the crush of humanity.
The primary time I ran on a treadmill after ending the John Muir Path, I cried. Why ought to I be exercising this manner when there have been mountain passes and forests and alpine lakes? Being within the “actual world” felt fallacious and unnatural after the pristine fantastic thing about nature.
What I do know is that this: climbing the John Muir Path will change you.
In what approach, I’m not positive. However you’ll stroll away from that path realizing one thing new about your self.
You’ll have completed one of the vital difficult thru-hikes on the planet. And also you’ll have new information concerning the world, nature and your personal highly effective drive to succeed.
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John Muir Path Fast Information:
The John Muir Path is within the Sierra Nevada mountain vary of California. The path goes via a few of the nation’s most well-known nationwide parks. Yosemite Nationwide Park, Ansel Adams Wilderness Space, Sequoia Nationwide Park and Kings Canyon Nationwide Park are all in sections of the John Muir Path.
The John Muir Path Size is 211 miles from finish to finish.
It ends at Mount Whitney, the best peak within the continental United States standing at 14,496 ft. (four,418 meters).
Greatest time to hike John Muir Path – In accordance with the Pacific Crest Path Affiliation, the path is accessible from July via September.
It’s attainable to start out earlier in June and go to October, however you’ll have elevated dangers of snowfall that may be harmful.
Kristin Hanes is a journalist and author who lives on a sailboat and in a van within the San Francisco Bay space.
She’s an avid outdoorswoman and beer lover who blogs about campervans, RVs, sailboats and tiny properties at The Wayward Dwelling.
You possibly can comply with her on Instagram, Fb and YouTube.
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