I section hiked the John Muir Trail for 4 straight summers in 2015-2018, mainly because the JMT was my first significant trail and the longest that I had ever spent on a backpacking trip. 2015 was the first short section that I hiked with my wife, and due to time constraints in our lives, we spent 4 days heading southbound from Tuolumne Meadows to Agnew Meadow just outside of Mammoth Lakes. It was a life-changing experience and got me hooked on hiking in the Sierra.
2016 brought a bigger challenge, but we had more experience under our belts. Again being limited by time, we had a week so we spent 6 days conquering the southern end of the JMT from Onion Valley to Whitney Portal, with a summit of Mt. Whitney. This 48 mile trek was the furthest that either of us had ever walked consecutively in our lives.
Time to step it up. In 2017, I vowed to finish the remaining major miles of the JMT and cover all of the sections that I hadn’t hiked. Knowing that this was going to take 2 weeks, my wife bowed out of such a long trip so I went solo. Starting out again from Onion Valley, I took the northbound route this time to exit at Happy Isles in Yosemite. Some last-minute plan changes with a potential hiking partner led me to skip the section that I had already hiked with my wife in 2015 and take a nice break in Mammoth Lakes. I continued back at Tuolumne Meadows to finish the trail.
Well, once the data was all tallied up, I remembered a small few miles that my wife and I didn’t finish. So, I set back out in 2018 for a short but casual section between Mammoth Lakes and Tuolumne Meadows. This was designed as a lower daily mileage backpacking trip, and I wanted to take some time and fish some of the amazing trout-filled waters in this area. Going northbound again, I planned to hike easy daily miles and fish at least half of each day. Well, it was another summer of wildfires in the direct area but also a larger one blowing smoke up the valley from Yosemite NP and right into my area. Due to significant smoke inhalation issues, I decided to exit the trail after 3 days – but not without finishing those final trail miles from 2015. I had now officially finished ever inch of the trail with no shortcuts.
Needless to say, anyone that has hiked this trail comes off of it a very different person. I’ll never look at the world the same way again, both emotionally and practically. It changes you in ways that you can’t anticipate if you’ve never done this kind of mileage in a single trip before.
I hope you enjoy my collections of writings, pictures and videos from my journeys on this amazing section of backcountry.