John Muir, pictured on the 2005 California quarter, explored the Sierra Nevada Mountains and wrote essays, letters and books telling of his adventures in the wild and expanding his vision of preserving nature. His activism helped secure Yosemite's designation as a national park, and he founded the Sierra Club in 1892. There is a 211-mile trail filled with spectacular views constructed in his honor (it was started in 1916, a year after Muir died, and completed in 1938) that starts in Yosemite Valley and goes all the way to Mt. Whitney. To actually get back to civilization and down from Mt. Whitney, a hiker must go another 11 miles, making the entire trip 222 miles. It's a popular, if challenging, hike, but by following these tips, you can do it in three weeks.
Tips & Warnings
The trail is very well-marked, but you should still buy the Tom Harrison map pack. It has numbered maps of the whole trail.
If you can't do the whole trail, do a shorter section. Lyell Canyon just out of Tuolumne Meadows is breath-taking.
Take your boots and socks off at lunch and let your feet air out.
Try out all of your equipment before you leave--especially in the rain. At the very least turn a hose on the stuff that's supposed to be waterproof and see if it really is.
Practice cooking with your stove, and make sure your food fits in the bowl your bringing. Mashed potatoes, jerky, oatmeal, energy bars and powdered pudding are good foods to consider.
In your small notebook, keep a journal of your trip. It's also a great place to write emergency phone numbers and a calendar so you can keep track of your days.
The streams and lakes are too cold to bathe in, but that's why you're bringing a collapsible bucket. Do not dump your soapy water in the stream; spread it on the ground.
This is a summer hike. Snow makes it impossible the rest of the year.
You MUST have a bear canister. People are occasionally mauled by bears in the middle of the night on the John Muir Trail. Minimize your risks and get the largest bear canister possible. Do not try to hang your food from a tree.
Cook and store food 200 feet away from your tent so if a bear comes sniffing along, he or she will go for the food area and not your sleeping bag. Do not leave your garbage out--it must be stored in a bear canister or bear locker as well.
Do not have anything scented in your tent--toothpaste included.
At the first sign of a hotspot on your foot, IMMEDIATELY put a band- aid on it--you do not want to be plagued with blisters for weeks, it will ruin your trip.
Do not get your hiking boots wet in the stream crossings--bring along water moccasins or crocks of some sort (not sandals, they leave your toes vulnerable).