Backpacks packed and dry sacks filled…. Check…
Kids delivered to camp for two weeks…. Check…
Enough training and conditioning for the 350 mile, 11 day hike…. Kinda Check.
When you commit to hiking the John Muir Trail, you can train but you can’t ever totally prepare. I know, I know, Cheryl Strayed in Wild makes a hero’s journey and comes out the otherside of her life while on the trail that didn’t happen for me, but I did learn about the importance of moving- moving forward and through and over and down and up and then doing it all over again. I couldn’t have prepared for the hail, the wind, the missing gear, and the beauty, the unbelievably breathtaking beauty.
Erin “Brown Bear/BB” (more on the nickname later), my traveling companion, my wingwoman, and the only friend who agreed to go on this epic backpack was as enthusiastic and naive as I when we met the rest of our group in Fresno. We decided to join the Mountain Travel/Sobek mule-supported group because, truthfully, we neither had time to plan and nor the young backs necessary to carry 60lb packs with the heavy mileage we were going to be completing each day.
You don’t sleep the night before embarking on a trek. You just don’t- it’s the anticipation (can I make all those miles?, am I going to get blisters?, do I really need walking sticks?) and the anxiety (did I pack enough underwear? do I need tampons? Are fuel gummies better than bars? wouldn’t it be easier to go to a tropical beach?). The beauty of our plan, however, was leaving the “big planning” i.e. meal preparation, gear carrying, first aid to the to the able hands of our guides Alex and Chris and our mule train driver. So, really other than packing our day packs, setting up our tent, and unpacking and repacking our gear we were free of responsibilities. Our only task was putting one foot in front of the other.
Mt.Travel Sobek is a purveyor of great trips. Going on their website sends me to my calendar to make sure I can’t swing a quick 2 weeks off to travel by pony through the Mongolian Outback or spend a mere 10 days hiking through the Scottish Highlands. While I spend little time on social media, the MTS website is my time suck. MTS finds great local vendors and then works with them to create these amazing trips. The Northbound John Muir Trail route is perhaps the some of the most scenic hiking in The Sierras. Leaving from Florence Lake (near Fresno) and ending in Toulumne Meadows in Yosemite is an untouched and spectacular peice of California whose sheer dramatic beauty will make you a sustaining member of the NPA (National Parks Association).
During our 11 days together, our group encountered bear, hail and lightening (not just that far away enjoyable lightening more of the holy-shit-I’m-going-to-die lightening) as well as blistered feet, worn tendons, and frayed nerves. While we were all ready to return to the warm showers and hydrated food, we all knew we would miss the extended time in nature and off the grid.