Find out how to Hike California’s John Muir Path

Kristin Hanes shares her expertise mountain climbing the John Muir Path in California. Find out 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 track pounded relentlessly by means of 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 regarded too far up the path, I’d flip round. Sit down. Hand over. 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!”

how to hike the john muir trail california

how to hike the john muir trail california


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 mountain climbing, day in and day trip, till you are feeling such as you would possibly break.

That’s what it’s like mountain climbing the 221-mile John Muir Path by means of California’s Sierra Nevada.

Your complete 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 feel individuals nonetheless have to convey alongside a map. You should purchase a map of John Muir Path on Amazon. We used waterproof maps by Tom Harrison.

Concerning the John Muir Path

john muir trail pictures scenery

john muir trail pictures scenery

The John Muir Path is likely one of the most brutal and most rewarding issues I’ve ever performed in my life.

It took us 22 days of mountain climbing from daybreak to nightfall by means of a number of the most unimaginable mountain surroundings in america. Suppose lush, hidden valleys, crystal clear creeks, shiny blue tarns, and beautiful alpine vistas.

Many of the path is over 10,000 ft in elevation and contains six mountain passes, certainly one of which tickles 14,000 ft. And if you need (and we did), you’ll be able to summit Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain within the contiguous United States at 14,505 ft.

rocky landscape of jmt trail california

rocky landscape of jmt trail california

The John Muir path is just not for the faint of coronary heart, or from individuals who endure altitude illness. I took excessive altitude drugs 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? Undoubtedly.

Sound like one thing you wish to do? Right here’s methods to deal with the path.


John Muir Path Permits

john muir hiking trail permits data for john muir trail trafficjohn muir hiking trail permits data for john muir trail traffic

Getting a allow is troublesome as a result of sheer quantity of individuals wanting one!

Touchdown a allow to hike the John Muir path is likely one of the hardest elements about this hike. Individuals from everywhere in the world fly to California to deal with this winding mountain path removed from civilization.

What meaning is that this: You might be competing with hundreds to get a allow.

The most well-liked path to hike the John Muir Path is from Yosemite Valley and exiting by means of the Mount Whitney Portal.

To cope with the inflow of demand, Yosemite solely permits 45 hikers per day to exit the park by way of the John Muir Path. Meaning the variety of permits may be very restricted.

Though most individuals wish to begin from the valley ground, there are a number of different trailheads inside Yosemite the place you’ll be able to start your hike.

When making use of, it’s good to place a number of trailhead choices in your allow.

john muir trail application choices john muir trail application choices

Decisions from Completely happy Isles to Glacier Level or Dawn Lakes and extra.

One other in style method to get a allow is to change instructions completely and hike from south to north.

We tried daily for a month or two for a allow out of Yosemite, however once we failed, we picked up a allow from Cottonwood Meadows northbound. That meant we had two full days of mountain climbing earlier than we met up with the John Muir Path, and one further excessive mountain move.

If you happen to don’t wish to hike the whole path, you’ll be able to enter midway, or three-quarters of the best way, from certainly one of many trails that joins up with the John Muir Path.

Find out how to Pack Meals For the John Muir Path

california hiking food

california hiking food

The one huge 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 daily to seek out campsites with bear bins.

Plus, I picked all of the fallacious meals.

Issues like heavy packs of tortillas, rolls of sausages, laborious 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 once we began our hike our packs should have weighed 65-pounds every. That’s manner an excessive amount of weight when mountain climbing over mountain passes in excessive elevation.

Meals Drops

We scheduled two meals drops for our hike: one at Muir Path Ranch after 12 days of mountain 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 if you’re clocking 12+ miles per day with 6,000 ft of achieve/loss.

Pack a Number of Meals

variety of food for trekking

variety of food for trekking

One other helpful meals tip is to convey a wide range of meals.

You’ll become bored with the identical taste of protein bars day after day. I bear in mind how excited I used to be when a few hikers gifted us two totally 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 with regards to your backpacking meals. And bear in mind to convey some enjoyable treats like peanut butter M&Ms or Snickers bars to perk you up if you’re feeling down.

In every meals drop, I packed some smoked salmon that we might eat proper then and there. It was AMAZING.

Meals Concepts:

Breakfast: Oatmeal packets, freeze-dried fruit, powdered complete milk, freeze-dried sausage, freeze-dried refried beans, ProBars. light-weight granolaSnacks: Bars of all types, 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 feel 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 might advocate bringing slightly container of olive oil for further energy with dinner.

john muir trail hiking and water purification

john muir trail hiking and water purification

Consuming Water on the Path

You can be consuming out of lakes, rivers, and streams on the John Muir Trails, so it is very important 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 crammed up the pouch with water from the backcountry after which squeezed it by means of 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 Record

It’s crucial to pack garments and equipment for all sorts of climate when mountain 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 greater elevations.

hiking john muir trail packing list

hiking john muir trail packing list

Listed here are the garments I delivered to hike the path:

Two pairs of wool socksTwo pairs of underwearTwo sports activities brasOne pair of lengthy mountain climbing pantsOne pair of shortsOne short-sleeved mountain climbing shirtOne long-sleeved sun-shirtOne wool sweaterOne hatOne pair of lengthy john bottomsOne puffy down coatOne raincoatRain pantsOver-ankle mountain climbing bootsTevasA sunhat

We did “laundry” each evening, which meant “washing” our garments in a close-by stream.

Defending the setting

Bear in mind 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. Generally, we hiked with our moist garments dangling from our backpacks, letting the Sierra sunshine dry them.

I wish to point out one thing about solar clothes. Every single day mountain 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 potential as sunscreen can hurt the fragile ecosystem if it will get within the water.

If you happen to 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

jmt hike how it changed me

jmt hike how it changed me

About ten days into our hike, we determined to trudge eight miles out of the best way 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 bear in mind is that this: the scent of the laundry detergent smelled unhealthy. Deodorant smelled unhealthy. So did shampoo and conditioner. The scent 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 turned nearly insufferable.

I additionally bear in mind sleeping within the tent that evening, leaping after I heard a automobile engine begin. I hadn’t heard a automobile engine in nearly two weeks! Automobile doorways slamming additionally startled me. Our senses had develop into finely tuned the longer we spent in nature.

After we lastly completed the John Muir Path, I used to be in shock. There have been too many vehicles driving too quick. Too many loud vacationers smelling of fragrance, lugging cameras. Listening to music on the automobile 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 fashion when there have been mountain passes and forests and alpine lakes? Being within the “actual world” felt fallacious and unnatural after the pristine great thing about nature.

What I do know is that this: mountain climbing the John Muir Path will change you.

hiking the jmt

hiking the jmt

In what manner, I’m not certain. However you’ll stroll away from that path figuring out one thing new about your self.

You’ll have completed one of the difficult thru-hikes on this planet. And also you’ll have new information in regards to the world, nature and your individual highly effective drive to succeed.

Are planning to hike the John Muir Path? Why not save this text to Pinterest for future reference?

how to hike the John Muir Trail in California

how to hike the John Muir Trail in California

John Muir Path Fast Details:

The John Muir Path is within the Sierra Nevada mountain vary of California.  The path goes by means of a number 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 very best peak within the continental United States standing at 14,496 ft. (four,418 meters).

Finest time to hike John Muir Path – In line with the Pacific Crest Path Affiliation, the path is accessible from July by means of September.

It’s potential to begin earlier in June and go to October, however you’ll have elevated dangers of snowfall that may be harmful.

Creator Bio

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 houses at The Wayward House.
You possibly can comply with her on Instagram, Fb and YouTube.


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