Hiking the John Muir Trail: Part 2




John Muir’s legacy

As mentioned previously, we will be opting out of the first 24 miles of the JMT in order to begin our north-to-south adventure in a less crowded part of Yosemite National Park. Our trailhead will be north of Yosemite Valley at the White Wolf Campground. Our first day will consist of a 10-mile, 4,000-foot descent into the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, a breathtaking river canyon and the deepest gorge in Yosemite National Park, which is also the source of Hetch Hetchy Reservoir.


I have always called it the “Tuolumne Yosemite,” for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the Merced Yosemite, not only in its sublime rocks and waterfalls but in the gardens, groves and meadows of its flowery park-like floor. 

–John Muir, about Hetch Hetchy Valley


“Tuolumne Yosemite” is true John Muir country. While he may or may not traveled along some stretches of the 211-mile trail that bears his name, he thoroughly explored the Tuolumne River canyon, and this was where his last conservation battle was waged. And lost. 

On December 19, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed the bill to dam Hetch Hetchy. John Muir died the next year.


The family that backpacks together…

Our family of four learned to backpack together. Since my childhood summers were spent in Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and Yellowstone national parks when my dad was a seasonal ranger, I always wanted to mimic that idyllic experience for my children.

So backpacking became our summertime recreation. 

Together, we’ve hiked most of the trails in Sequoia National Park and into the Kings Canyon backcountry. When we started these forays, our children were five and six years old; we took a week-long to 10-day trip every year until they were 18 and 19 and off to college. Our schedules quit meshing at that point, but I hold out hope that we’ll all backpack together again someday.


JMT in-depth

I will be reporting on many aspects of this journey. I want to share it with readers and perhaps plant the dream of an epic hike in a few minds.

When all is said and done, this adventure will be the result of about nine months of planning, from permits to gear purchases itinerary to food planning. 

I hope to send in dispatches from the trail so readers may join us as our adventure unfolds. I will struggle to balance this call of duty with my absolute desire to be deviceless and unconnected for 30 days.


Join the conversation


In the meantime, I am always willing to discuss backpacking with anyone who may want information. I am most passionate about backpacking with children, so anyone who needs assistance getting started with planning their outdoor summer vacation with the little ones, never hesitate to contact me. You may reach me via email at 3rnews@kaweahcommonwealth.com.

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