I may not be able to backpack anymore but I can still take a walk down memory lane. Here's some photos from when my wife and I backpacked from Yosemite to Mammoth Lakes on the John Muir Trail. First photo is Tuolumne Meadows and the next 2 are Lyell Canyon.
On Sunday I saw a bobcat while running a small section of the 210.4 mile (338.6 km) John Muir trail. On Monday my patient told me they had just been transferred from the John Muir Hospital. Clearly John Muir is an iconic figure in California history. As a fierce defender of the Yosemite valley, co-founder of the Sierra Club, activist and prolific writer, Muir had a huge impact on the conservation of natural lands. Reading about his life and values is hugely inspiring. I think I’ll have to add his books to my reading list 📚#johnmuir
JMT Day 1
Mount Lyell 13,120’ and Lyell glacier seen while ascending Donahue pass. This is the highest peak in Yosemite and one of the last remaining glaciers. The glacier is receding and will be gone soon.
Just coming back into cell service after 5 awesome days backpacking on the John Muir Trail with my Dad. Prepare for about a million more mountain pictures 🏔. This was our view from camp on Sunday morning at Thousand Islands Lake #johnmuirtrail#jmt#anseladamswilderness
JMT Day 1.
Miles hiked, 20
Starting pack weight 21 pounds
Starting from Camp 1 in Lyell canyon the trail leaves Yosemite National Park, crossing Donahue Pass (11,066’), and enters the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the Ritter Range including: Mount Ritter, Banner peak and the Minarets. This area is volcanic and glaciated with jagged mountains and beautiful lakes. The trail undulates with a series of climbs and was a very strenuous day.
DONE ✔️ Highly recommend clicking over to our brotha @penabrand for an amazing photo recap by day of his #JMT adventure with friends. Unleash a couple professional photographers and story tellers on a week long backcountry adventure and they come back with something special. Congrats to you five ⛰️💪🙌
Photo courtesy of Luis Pena
Day 8 - 38m 20hr 09min 7,946’ Sometimes, a single day can define who you are. We packed out & were on the trail at 6:41a. The climb up the 13,200’ Forester was a biggee. Heather joked we were the Peña Peloton w/an Ashworth Chaser. We scampered down the narrow, cliffy trail and then ran the valley for miles. As we crested a plateau, there she was - Mt. Whitney. And I was determined to summit. At lunch we talked about it, but decided we’d wait till we got to Guitar Lake and make the call then. There we took a vote whether to summit. I was all in, as was Ryan. Migl & Hezza would do either. Matt was the voice of reason. But I told the group, what’s reasonable about anything we do? And that decided it. We ate all our food and started up. As we got higher the sun set and views were stunning. I lost my mind above the purple mountains and orange sky. I ran up the trail with my camera, snapping my hiking pole in excitement. The team finally calmed me down. We formed a tight group as night fell, and summited at 8:25p! 14,495’ - the tallest mt in the contiguous U.S. End of the 210m John Muir Trail. With our late Day 1 start, we finished at 7days 9hrs 23min. We all kissed the marker and took refuge in the stone hut at top. We put on extra clothes and started down. Past the summit, under the stars, we turned off our lights and Matt read his poem // The soul untested does not know itself. And so, we wandered into the mountains in search of something mighty enough to pierce the veil of reality. There we found beauty and struggle so deep my heart was torn wide open - and it bled love. // So good. But then things got so bad. Our friend’s granola bars, came calling. I had the worst cramps, but there was no where to poop! We were exposed, cliffs everywhere. So I held it, and bonked hard. After a couple hours we hit a safe spot, but on Whitney you pack it ALL out. Ughh. We continued down the never ending 10m descent for 5:30hrs! Making it to my Jeep by 1:30a. Exhausted, we drove into Lone Pine. There at 2:30a, we celebrated our friendship, our survival, our incredible journey, our unique JMT experience over gas station Burgers and stale Churros. Our breakfast of champions!
The wildlife was one of the most special parts of being on the John Muir trail. If you were quiet, you never knew what kind of critter might approach you. There’s nothing quite like the heartbeat rush of being in an intimate space with a wild creature. Every single slow step and shutter fire is rewarding.
John Muir Trail through-hike map with camping spots.
This is the overview of the hike I completed 9/13 - 9/22 from Tuolumne Meadows to Mount Whitney. I was lucky enough to get a walk-up permit at 4:45pm and walk a quick 7 miles up the Lyell Canyon to start my hike. I plan on posting a series of photos of my journey in the coming days.
John Muir Trail: miles 135-185, days 11-13. Continuing in Kings Canyon National Park, we are now getting hit by thunderstorms each afternoon 2-7pm daily, but we made it up the Golden Staircase to the Palisade Lakes, over both Mather Pass and Pinchot Pass in one day (our first time climbing 12,000ft passes!☝️✌️), and over Glen Pass and then off trail to start the climb over Kearsage Pass down to our final resupply point. (I’m back to going through the photos from our thru-hiking trip in July, check out my posts in August to see days 0-10!)
The magic in a photograph has nothing to do with visual beauty. But, it’s ability to take you back in time to a completely different version of yourself. One you may not even recognize anymore.
@grahamfielder snapped this at a point in my life where I felt lost, abandoned, and was desperately searching for happiness.
Now I know I wasn’t lost. I was exactly where I was meant to be at the most perfect time in my journey.
When you embrace Mother Nature, it’s impossible to ever be abandoned or lonely.
And most importantly, the moment you stop searching for happiness and learn to appreciate each and every moment for exactly what it is, happiness finds you in abundance.
Day 5 on the JMT. I’m starting to see a pattern here, I may be drawn to water/reflections. Which is understandable considering I spent 15 days reflecting on my life in general. Here we have my sunrise at Garnet Lake, one of my favorite camp locations. #johnmuirtrail#jmt#jmt2018#hikemoreworryless
A little emotional roller today. Started a little tough cause our campsite was quite sloped and I woke up a thousand times cold and/or in a ball slid all the way to the bottom of my sleeping pad at the bottom of my little slant bout we were also creek adjacent which made for prettiness, easy access to water and soothing stream sounds. Midday was great. I had expressed some frustration cause I felt like I couldn’t take breaks without getting behind (which was totally in my head) as well as we were all wanting a little more fun time, so we started taking lunch breaks and having a midday break all together: fishing, swimming, staring at the beauty around us. I LOVED LUNCHTIME THE MOST! Then we had what felt to me like the most difficult climb yet. I thought the whole way up about bailing, but was frustrated cause I didn’t have any real problems. I was blister free, no injuries, no sickness, etc. It was just hard. I kept thinking on if that was a valid reason for me to throw in the towel. By the time we got to our campsite, that we later dubbed “Epic Site” I decided it was and that I would start breaking it to Ryan that I was thinking about getting out at the next chance. My plan was that if Ryan tried to talk me out of it that I would just not tell him and secretly just tell Miguel. I figured Miguel was more objective and would let me.
Epic Site was exactly that. This giant flat granite site overlooking the lake with tons of fish, this weird cove of warm-ish water that allowed me to wash my legs comfortably for the first time, and all the stars in the world reflecting in the gorgeous lake. It was perfection in campsite form.
I told Ryan I wasn’t sure if I had it in my heart/body to keep this up another 5 days given our new adjusted plan. He chuckled and informed me in no uncertain terms that he didn’t know if he had it either and that no one really had it in them.
I fell asleep to the prettiest sky and decided to probably bail out next chance I got and I was pretty OK with it.
@penabrand story in first comment.
Took a bit to figure out how I wanted to talk about day 3 on the JMT. Because it started off so strong. It started off walking through fields and meadows surrounded by mountains and we were crushing miles. We left camp to the sounds of what sounded like an 8am dance party, and headed towards Cathedral Peak.
On our way we met 2 Rangers our for a hike on their day off. We chatted for a while and as we were parting, we made a joke about green cards for everyone, not realizing just how important that chance meeting would be. Cathedral peaks is gorgeous and as Kelsey put it, “welcome to our church”. We had some fun, took some goofy photos and continued on towards the next three days of food waiting for us in a bear locker by the road.
I could tell my feet were in rough shape, but as long as we kept moving, it was ok. Before we set out in the morning I had layered them up with gauze, duct tape and a medical tape wrap around my foot to keep the blister tape from rubbing off. My feet were swollen to the point of barely fitting into my boots, and the added blister padding wasn’t helping. Things were deteriorating quickly, and ever single step was a reminder of that.
One of the best ways you can take care of yourself is getting outside and out of your head. ⛰💪🏽 A year ago I got my first tattoo of Yosemite’s Half Dome. It meant so much because while I was going through a lot, National Parks and road trips became my escape from reality. Nothing made me feel more happy and alive than to be away from all the noise. This last minute trip was definitely what I needed and it became a reminder that life is too short to get stuck in a routine. We get so caught up in Adulting, living off what’s planned in our calendars, and working full-time that it becomes harder to visit family, hang out with friends like we use to, go out and explore like we use to, travel, etc. that it just feels like we’re missing out on life. With that being said, 2019 will be the year I move mountains and go back to my spontaneous adventures! 🤞🏽🌲 Half Dome definitely kicked our butts lol, hiking 17 miles ain’t no joke but I’m glad we didn’t pay attention to those who kept telling us it would be hard to get there, don’t get me wrong it was, but it was totally worth it 😅🙈. I’m so sad that my videos didn’t save but that just means that @jst_bfrank and I will be back next year better prepared 💕💪🏽⛰
John Muir - “The mountains are calling and I must go” - One of his many quotes. He is known as the “Father of national park system” here in the USA and along with President Theodore Roosevelt laid the foundations for the unspoilt nature that we enjoy here today. He left his native Scotland at 16 years old and carved out a life here in the high Sierras in California which probably unknowingly to him would benefit countless millions of people to enjoy the great outdoors for generations to come. The first day is always a challenge ( physically ) and we were sad to leave the van behind in the parking lot for the next 2.5-3 weeks ... In the tent tonight for 7.30pm because it’s already dark and there’s a fire ban in place which excludes us from cowering around the fire ring 🔥. We are excited to be hiking with @marsmensch.ch and what the next 220 odd miles will bring, our expectations are so high ! #johnmuirtrail#johnmuir#hiking#hikingadventures#trails#california#yosemite#sequoianationalpark#kingscanyonnationalpark#hikinglife#instahike#instagood#nationalparks
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms...” #johnmuirtrail