An Authentic JMT Map2018-06-30T19:20:26+00:00

Project Description

AN AUTHENTIC ROUTE FOR THE
JOHN MUIR TRAIL MAP

OBJECTIVE: One of the Foundation’s initial goals is to combine historical research of the JMT’s construction from 1915 to 1938 with state-of-the-art digital technologies to connect existing trails in a more historically authentic and geo- spatially correct map of the John Muir Trail.

AN AUTHENTIC ROUTE FOR THE
JOHN MUIR TRAIL MAP

OBJECTIVE: The Foundation is combining research of the JMT’s construction from 1915 to 1938 with state-of-the-art digital technologies to map an authentic route of the John Muir Trail.

There are many commercially available maps of the High Sierra displaying a pink, blue or red line labeled the John Muir Trail. Today’s hikers often rely on GPS-linked digital versions loaded on mobile devices. There are discrepancies between the various maps, existing trail signage and GPS data accessed en route that create problems for thru-hikers and other users. Key sources even disagree about the identity of the basic route. In some areas different segments have been marked as the JMT, deviating from GPS data and the historical alignment. In other cases the underlying geo-spatial data is clearly incorrect. As a result, hikers cannot be sure whether the trail they take will align with their GPS devices or reflect the historical route of the JMT.

We are analyzing historical maps of the JMT from its authorization by California law in 1915 to its completion in 1938 and gathering the best geo-spatial information available today in order to locate a more authentic and accurate route. Once developed, we will collaborate with National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to identity the route that best combines historical authenticity with current environmental and managerial concerns.

This is a mapping project only. We are not suggesting reconstruction of routes long ago abandoned. We are not suggesting that any new trails be cut nor that trails be reinstated that were moved to avoid sensitive terrain. We are using existing paths that are already open. The result will be a map with improved GIS data delineating a route that more closely follows the path of the historical JMT! An Authentic JMT Map!

First official map of the JOHN MUIR TRAIL produced by California State Engineer W.F. McClure. (Fifth Biennial Report of the Department of Engineering of the State of California, Dec 1, 1914 to Nov 30, 1916 (1917). (Courtesy of Sierra Club William E. Colby Memorial Library)

Using a base map developed by GreenInfo Networks, an Oakland-based GIS and cartography company, three of the Foundation’s board members, Cris Chater (known on the JMT as “Strider”), John Dittli and Elizabeth Wenk will closely compare the improved base map with the historic maps. Chater, Dittli and Wenk have spent many years hiking the JMT and all of the surrounding peaks and trails. They have a deep knowledge of the area from the backpacker’s perspective, having completed at least 75 thru-hikes between them. Dittli and Wenk bring the additional knowledge of basic cartographic methods and of GPS field data collection. Based on the historical research and their considerable boots-on-the-ground experience, Chater, Dittli and Wenk will identify the combination of existing trails that best matches the historic JMT route.

Hand-drawn map by Joseph Nesbit LeConte, Sierra Club Bulletin 1909, (Courtesy of Sierra Club William E. Colby Memorial Library)

The John Muir Trail Foundation will coordinate with the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service to review the findings and confirm the feasibility of using this alignment, making any adjustments these agencies feel appropriate. With their concurrence, we will then finalize and post the Authentic JOHN MUIR TRAIL Map here, for everyone’s benefit!

We are analyzing historical maps of the JMT from its authorization by California law in 1915 to its completion in 1938 and gathering the best geo-spatial information available today in order to locate a more authentic and accurate route. Once developed, we will collaborate with National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to identity the route that best combines historical authenticity with current environmental and managerial concerns.

The result will be a map with improved GIS data delineating a route that more closely follows the path of the historical JMT! An Authentic JMT Map! With the concurrence of the federal agencies, we will then finalize and post the Authentic JOHN MUIR TRAIL Map here, for everyone’s benefit!