In Sept 2017, four friends and I hiked the northern half of the JMT, coming onto the trail at Muir Ranch from Florence Lake. I think the day we hiked from Vermillion Resort to Silver Lake was the hardest- only 5.6 miles, but we climbed well over 3000 ft. that day with. As we came up into the narrowing canyon towards Silver Lake and Silver Pass, the vegetation thinned, and the granite walls began towering on either side, orange with alpenglow. Probably partly because I was so tired, I was completely overcome with emotion at the incredible beauty and sense of isolation. My friends caught up with me to find me sobbing - they were all guys, so I think I scared them for a minute, they didn't know what to think! I remember thinking, "How lucky are we?? You can't drive to a place like this!"
August 2018 - Muir Pass on day 15 of my 26 day solo trip. When I first got to the top of Muir Pass, there were a few people there still enjoying the Muir Hut. We had leap-frogged all day long, but they had been ahead of me for a while. So, when I got to the top, they were just leaving. I then had the whole place to myself. I went inside the hut and it was so utterly silent. I sat down and enjoyed some time in total peace. I felt incredibly fortunate to be able appreciate this place in complete solitude.
About 10 years ago, a friend took me backpacking for 7 days on the John Muir Trail. I have always loved the outdoors and Yosemite, but this trip opened my mind to a whole different experience. In spite of my backpack weighing 55 pounds, I had an amazing trip backpacking from Tuolumne Meadows to Devil's Postpile. I have been back almost every year since and I'm planning for a full through hike in the next few years! And this year we're spending a week in the Sierras and my pack with food and bear canister will weigh just under 25lbs including camera gear for shooting the Milky Way! :D
We finished the trail in 2018 after doing chunks over the course of many years. This photo is of our camp by Gladys Lake a couple of days south of Tuolumne Meadows.
Amplified Awe | No matter how many images of mountains I see, true bewilderment takes over when I’m dwarfed by their presence. The insignificance of ourselves becomes overwhelmingly apparent when a single footstep seems like an eternity, when traversing ancient monoliths is accomplished by absolute resolution, the most magnificent of them all withholding their mysteries from those who do not dare or do not have the ability to scale their monumental heights. This image was taken on 7/23/17 at Kearsarge Lakes during a layover on our way to Kearsarge Pass while hiking the JMT.
My gps was tracking longer distances than the map had given. When you’re a mile from your destination according to mileage but your gps shows you’re probably still 3 miles out, it gets a bit frustrating. My body was feeling fatigued and I was struggling to get my mind in check, you know mind over matter? I was even pondering quitting. Climbing the Golden Staircase was an eye opening moment for me. It was probably my toughest day on the JMT. At one point though, I saw the water falling over the “stairs” and was in awe. Sure, it was hard, but how fortunate was I to be out there, seeing something so beautiful. It reminded me that no matter how hard things get, there is beauty in everything, we just have to be looking for it! Without that moment, I may not have made it to Mt. Whitney.
“Great news!! Sierra Nevada Brewing Company has joined the JMTF’s effort with a four-year commitment of sponsorship! This will be announced at a film release party Sierra Nevada Brewing is hosting on Oct 28 at their Chico headquarters for Jeremy Jone’s new documentary “Ode to Muir”. Here is a link to the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh51WYEDn4U Jeremy will be joined by the JMTF’s own executive director, Marla Stark, for a panel discussion after the film's screening to talk about the critical importance of conserving the JMT’s vast wilderness, including its snowpack which is the source of fresh water for some 30 million Californians. Join the party. Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/teton-gravity-research-presents-ode-to-muir-tickets-50987495973 JOIN US! And DONATE to the JMTF today!!
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Purposeful Contemplation | I sit reflecting on the long traverse up to Glen Pass on the JMT. This image taken on July 21, 2017, is one of my favorites. We were heading northbound on the iconic trail and had already finished crossing most of the snowfields when we stopped to watch a guy going the other direction, making his way to Kearsarge Pass to exit. He had already contended with considerable amounts of snow on the other side of Glen Pass and decided he had enough. We would soon make the very same decision, but not before we had the most memorable adventure of our lives.
JMTF's very own Marla Stark, along with daughter Gillian (age 25) and son Spencer (age 31) hiking the JMT, starting pack weight 38 lbs each, from Onion Valley over Kearsarge Pass to Lake Marjorie, lots of fishing for golden trout (all released!), sore backs and blistered feet, two big storms, fantastic sunsets!
In Memoriam: Erik Koelzer "Beautiful, but brutal" is how Erik summed up the JMT after completing his first segment in 2014. A testament to Erik’s persistence and determination, he hiked over 240 miles to finish the 211-mile JMT in three segments spanning three years. His first hike was from Agnew Meadows to Whitney, where he recorded daily video to share his journey with family and friends. His next segment was from Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne, and the third was from Tuolumne to the Valley in his first solo hike. On top of Whitney, he described the physical and mental trials necessary to complete the JMT, but he proclaimed that it was all worth it. He felt this experience was one of his greatest accomplishments.