Spirit Walker on
The John Muir Trail
After I finished my Appalachian Trail thruhike in 1988 I thought that, although I enjoyed my life on the A.T., I would not want to do another long solo hike. However, I soon discovered that I missed the life more than I expected. As difficult as long distance backpacking can be, it has its rewards. Within a year I began thinking about going back to the A.T. or hiking the P.C.T., but I also knew that money was tight and that it would be a while before I could save enough money to go back on the trail. I was working as a very junior secretary in a very expensive city, and saving money was difficult. So I started looking for a shorter hike that would satisfy my urge for adventure but not break my bank account.
I ended up deciding on the John Muir Trail. Since I was living in San Francisco, transportation would be relatively easy and inexpensive, and although I had done a few group backpacking trips in the Sierras, I still had a lot of mountains to explore. The John Muir Trail is a 211 mile trail that heads from Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park to Whitney Portal, on the east side of Mt. Whitney. Along the way it traverses 14 passes, three National Parks and a lot of incredibly beautiful scenery. Since I did not want to feel rushed, I decided to take three weeks to hike the 211 miles.
Although I asked a few friends whether they would be interested in joining me, in the end no one was able to take the time to do the whole trail. So I went alone. I decided to hike north to south, partly because it is easier to get to Yosemite than Whitney Portal, partly because the passes get higher the farther south you go, and partly because of resupply options: by starting in Yosemite, I could do a few days to Redís Meadow, a few more days to Muir Trail Ranch, and a final stretch of ten days to Whitney. Heading south to north you have to start the trail with ten days of food in your pack and a 10,000í climb. That didnít seem like the best option. So I started the trail in early July, heading south.