10 Reasons I’m Stoked for the John Muir Trail

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Next week I’m leaving to hike the 212 mile John Muir Trail. This is something that’s been on my bucketlist since my last trip to Kings Canyon National Park in 2009, and I’m so excited that this adventure is finally becoming reality. I’m hiking it with one of my best friends in the world, and here are the 10 things I couldn’t be more stoked for.

EPIC SUNRISES

The lakes in the Sierras number in the thousands, and on the John Muir Trail you have the opportunity to camp at a new lake every night. In the morning, when the air is silent, the sky explodes in colors and the jagged peaks form the most perfect reflections on the still water. For me, it’s the one place where rising early doesn’t require a strong cup o’ joe.

SunriseSunrise at Middle Rae Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

UNREAL STARGAZING

Many nights on the JMT are spent camping above 10,000 feet. With nothing to light up the sky but the moon and a million stars, the nighttime vistas are truly extraordinary.

Yosemite-starsNight sky over Yosemite (Photo: Tom Bricker)

BECOMING A BETTER PHOTOGRAPHER

I just bought a new camera. The Sony NEX-3N. It takes photos like a professional camera but it’s a fraction of the size (and cost). I also have a GoPro to play around with. I can’t wait to come home with some new camera knowledge and some rad images of the Sierras to share.

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POLAR BEAR SWIMMING

In September, the water in the Sierras is likely to be cold, but I’m not gonna let that stop me. It’s really the only way to “shower,” and nothing makes you feel more alive than an icy dip.

JMT-SWIMMINGThe best kind of lunch break at Dollar Lake in Kings Canyon National Park

GETTING SWOLE

I’ve been pumping iron on the regular with my 10 pound dumbbells, so I know I’m gonna destroy those mountain passes with a 40 pound pack on….just kidding. This is probably going to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done both physically and mentally, and I’m excited to take on the challenge.

Getting-swoleMoonscape near Glen Pass in Kings Canyon National Park

MAKING NEW TRAIL FRIENDS

No John Muir Trail experience is complete without befriending a few fellow hikers. Despite coming from all walks of life, you do have one thing in common with the people you run into – a desire to be lost in nature for a few weeks. I look forward to swapping tips, hearing crazy trail stories, and shooting the shit with the folks we meet along the way.

JMT marmotPhoto: David Taus

TRACING THE ROUTE OF PIONEERS

The JMT traverses Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks, and each of these is known for something spectacular. Glacially carved mountains and lakes, expansive views, giant trees. There’s a little of something for everyone and the trail changes dramatically as you move from north to south. These National Parks first received attention and later protection thanks to John Muir, and it’s going to be so cool to follow in his footsteps.

John-Muir-wildernessPhoto: David Fulmer

BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN MY OUTDOOR ABILITIES

Over the course of three weeks, I am really crossing my fingers that we don’t encounter any problems, but I think that’s probably unlikely. So in the case that a difficult situation arises, I’ll just have to MacGuyver my way through using my handy little pocket survival guide that I’m bringing along. I’m also going to get better at things like navigation, backcountry cooking, and actually being able to start a fire without lighter fluid.

JMT navigationWhen navigation skills come in handy…

STANDING ON TOP OF THE WORLD

On the last day of our three week adventure, I will summit Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48. Towering over the eastern Sierras at 14,505 feet, standing on top of that mountain will be a glorious feat. Plus, after three weeks of eating backpacker food, it means that pizza, wings, and celebratory beers are soon to come!

Mt-WhitneyMt. Whitney in all its glory (Photo: Matt Artz)

TURNING IT OFF AND TAKING TIME TO REFLECT

There’s very few places in the world you can travel to where cell phones don’t work and internet doesn’t exist. The JMT is one of those places. I might give you a quick update on Facebook or Instagram when we stop to pick up our resupply boxes – just to let you know that I’m alive…but other than that, I will be completely off the grid. I’ve got some big life decisions to make when I get home, and there’s no better place to gain some serious clarity than on the trail.

John Muir Trail quote

What excites you the most about spending time in nature? Let us know by sharing your comments below!

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About the author

Hi! I'm Kristen....blogger, hiker, sunset-watcher, and dance floor shredder. I feel most alive in the outdoors and created this website to help you enjoy the best that the West has to offer.

10 Comments on “10 Reasons I’m Stoked for the John Muir Trail

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  1. I am completely jealous of your upcoming trip on the JMT! I myself hope to do the trek in the next couple of years. Do you have any tips for trip planning? Have an amazing time!!

      Kate – You should do it! I have lots of tips in my back pocket that I’m planning on sharing on here soon. First, I have a packing list that will be posted next week.Then once I get home, I will be posting information about food drops, permits, my favorite campsites, eating on the trail…tons of good stuff. So please keep checking back! Or you could subscribe to my once-a-month email list to make sure you don’t miss anything….https://bearfoottheory.com/subscribe/ Thanks again! Kristen

    Good luck on this awesome trip! I will be living vicariously through you. I was on a section of the trail in Yosemite and it was incredible. Re: #8, my favorite quote is from Yvon Chouinard–that the adventure begins when things go wrong. Those situations often make the best memories at the end and make you feel so much more capable and confident in yourself. Best of luck!

      Thanks Kelly! I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and the encouragement. That quote couldn’t be more true. Can’t wait to share my adventures with you once I get home!

    I’m so excited for you Kristen! The John Muir trail is on my bucket list as well- maybe next summer. Can’t wait to hear all about it and see all your beautiful photos!

      Thanks Linda! Hope we can meet up soon, and I can tell you all about it. Hopefully you guys can do it next year!

    Incredibly exciting! I don’t envy your cold dips in the lakes but everything else I know will be fantastic. Looking forward to your stories and pics via Instagram and FB!

      Ah the cold lakes were the best! So refreshing after a long days hike in the hot sun.

    Your website is completely rad! I will be hiking the JMT in August and your blog is getting me uber excited. Once question I have for you is how did you train?? I know everyone has their own style, so I thought I would ask. Thanks!

      Hey Katie – Glad to connect with you! That’s great you are hiking the JMT. You are gonna have the time of your life out there. As far as training went, I regularly attended bootcamp classes and I walked alot. Both of these things are part of my normal routine, so I didn’t do too much beyond that. The hardest part for me was adjusting to the altitude the first couple of days. The better cardio health you are in, the easier this should be. Also squats, lunges, and core work are good things to do. The other thing to remember is that you also get stronger once you are out on the trail. It was really crazy to see the difference in my strength between day one and say…day 10. Hope that’s helpful, and if you have any other questions, just let me know!

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