John Muir Trail: Never Say Never

Sue and I visit the Muir Hut atop the mountain pass named after John Muir.

It was the toughest physical challenge of our lives. You just gotta see how it came to be. Click on the YouTube links below to watch Sue’s pair of brief (I promise) shows. Look carefully and you’ll see a mule train snake up Forester Pass at more than 13,000 feet.

It began with one word: “Never!”

Sue and I had just returned after our fifth European long-distance trek. Our youngest son Chris, an avid outdoorsman, had a suggestion that came from his heart: “You should do the John Muir Trail.”

“We can’t do that. Live in a tent? Carry all our stuff?”

I paused as the reasons for my absolute answer piled up. “The elevation would kill us. No toilets? No showers? Weeks in the wilderness?”

“It’s the most beautiful trail in the world, Dad.”

In August 2021, we began our JMT south of Mt. Whitney with a plan to walk 240-plus miles northbound to Happy Isles in Yosemite National Park. We sometimes gasped for oxygen, but we coped with living at mostly 10,000 feet-plus elevation. We bathed in creeks and lakes, filtered our own water. Set up and took down our tent every day for a month.

What made us say “Yes?” Mules and packers. Mules carried the bulk of our stuff, allowing us to get by with 20-pound daypacks, which held water, rain gear, lunch, snacks and a few other essentials. Packers loaded and unloaded the mules, cooked our food, and set up a rustic privy. And much more.

Here’s your ticket to the most beautiful trail in the world.

John Muir Trail Part I

John Muir Trail Part II

An Adventurer Explores His Passion to be Way Out There

A warning: Read Way Out There and you may find yourself buying an old VW Beetle, driving to Alaska and discovering magic while camping in the wild. At 22, J. Robert Harris drove solo across Canada on his way to Alaska and as I read the opening chapter, his words delivered his unbridled sense of adventure.

Now 75, Harris writes about his favorite backpacking journeys that many would not consider, even with expert guides. The Arctic National Park and Preserve, Baffin Island, Tasmania, the northern reaches of Canada, Switzerland and Australia are among his destinations. One chapter takes readers for a gripping canoe adventure.

He packs impressive courage and finds a sense of peace miles from civilization, in the home territories of polar bears, grizzlies and wolves. He is often alone, but never lonely. Danger follows him, but it only succeeds in making his stories impossible to put aside.

Read Way Out There, if you dare.