When I was going through my divorce in 2016, I gave a lot of thought to quitting work for half a year or more to hike the 3100-mile Continental Divide Trail. I thought it would help me organize my thoughts. As a matter of fact, the gear I bought and shakedowns I went through were designed to get myself and my kit thru-hike-ready. But even though I had sold my house and most of my possessions at that point, a break from my career seemed irresponsible considering the money I felt like I needed to save in order to feel financially secure again.
As preparation for a long-distance hiking, I completed the 30-mile Art Loeb Trail in October and the 77-mile Foothills Trail in November. I was looking at some pictures of Yosemite online when I realized that the 211-mile John Muir Trail would scratch the itch I had without necessitating new employment or relocation.
I have a lot of PTO where I work. There’s nothing keeping me from flying out to California and walking all day for weeks. I figured that I’m already in pretty good shape, so I read up on how the permit system worked and put some reminders on my calendar to get the ball rolling exactly six months before my desired start date, which is the esoteric requirement.
Well, I just received my official permit to leave from Lyell Canyon on September 1 to hike south to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States. This was my 5th of 5 preferred starting points because it cuts much of Yosemite off my hike. I might get there a day early and try to get a local/daily permit to start from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, my preferred starting point. If I don’t get it, I’ll just shuttle back to Lyell Canyon and set out the next day as my papers allow.
I found a lot of great resources at SoCalHiker.net. Here is some information about the trail.
The John Muir Trail covers some of the most beautiful mountains in the world, from stunning, glacier-chiseled Yosemite, to the jagged spires of the Minarets, to the highest mountain peak in the contiguous United States. You’ll hike over numerous high mountain passes, pass ancient glaciers, cross fast-moving mountain streams while surrounded by giant peaks.
The JMT is truly a wilderness trail, coming close to civilization at only a few points. Being out on the trail with only your skill, your equipment and your wit to survive will sharpen your perspective on life.
At the same time, you’re not ever really alone. Many people travel the trail, or a portion of it, every year. While you may go all day without seeing a soul, stop for a while and you soon find there are others making the trek.
Most people allow at least 3 weeks to actively hike the trail. I’m allowing 14 days with a zero at Muir Trail Ranch. Traveling to/from the coast will take a couple more days and I’m giving myself some time to recover at home. I can probably justify more days off if I need to. That will eat up around 3 weeks of my total PTO. I’m glad to finally be using it properly.
Now that I have a start date, I need to work backwards to flesh out the rest of my itinerary, book my travel, and assemble my resupply boxes. Oh, and I have to get into the best shape of my life. Wish me luck!