The John Muir Trail Calls Me Daily

It has been a bit more than a year since Sue and I set out on our greatest adventure, the John Muir Trail, which slices through the most spectacular sections of California’s Sierra Nevada. Over 243 miles, we climbed and descended 100,000 feet, mostly in wilderness. The hardest physical challenge of my life, it pushed me to my limit. I miss it and our trekking family every day.

Can you spot Guitar Lake in the first photo? I left our camp there at 4 in the morning to climb Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. Going northbound means the highest points and the tests of altitude acclimation come early in the trek, so Forester Pass (13,150 feet) was the first of a string of passes.

A highlight of our JMT was a hamburger, Sierra Nevada beer, and cake, served by four young trail angels—at the top of Selden Pass. They were there for just one day and surprise barely begins to measure our feelings.

The mules carried most of our stuff, including our home, a Nemo tent that is pictured near the trail’s end, at Upper Cathedral Lake, in Yosemite. We walked every mile, but tip our hats to trekkers who carry everything and detour to collect their resupplies.

Shoeless Ken Tries the JMT Again

We saw it, but couldn’t believe it. Was it from a shoe made to leave a print in the sand to resemble a human foot? Sue and I were near Garnet Lake, trekking northbound on California’s John Muir Trail in August 2021, when she spotted the print. Around the next bend, we found our answer: Kenneth Posner, an American who was in his second attempt to walk the entire 211-mile trail from Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley barefoot. He was happy to pose for Sue’s photo. His email when we got home broke the news: He had failed again, having to put on shoes on a difficult rocky section.

The JMT surfaces are tough enough with the best of shoes, but Kenneth returned in 2022 for his third try. And once again, a hard-to-get thru permit eluded him, so he had to walk the trail in sections. Read what happened here.