Embracing the wild on the John Muir Trail

Four years ago I read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Her story touched my soul.  I told my sister about the book, and after reading it she felt the same.  This was the beginning of our dream to hike the John Muir Trail. we grew up on the outskirts of the trail with our father, a miner, who worked the area and loved to explore the mountains. What a better way for us to explore the same mountains, honor our father, and embrace our inner “wild” than to hike in the High Sierra, the range of light.

Every morning since the New Year I read the John MuirTrail Guide byElizabeth Wenk.    To make this dream a reality we had to secure a permit at the end of January through a confusing lottery system put in place to limit the amount of hikers in the back-country.  We won our date and entrance location: the beautiful Tuolumne Meadows, our Dad’s favorite place to hike due to it’s unique beauty and geological evidence of glacier activity.

The John Muir Trail totals 210.4 miles. It has 10 passes that are above 10,000 feet, it is meant to be scenic (and therefore long), has many snow-covered areas that can impede progress, and therefore takes an obsessive amount of planning, visualizing and physical preparation.

There are many times in my life that I am grateful for being in the profession that I am. Co-owning and operating City Fitness Gym gives me a daily workout boost. In addition to my normal workouts that include yoga, pole fitness, step aerobics and hiking, I added more squats, assisted pull-ups, and higher intensity core exercises. Hiking up and down mountains is a very different challenge than a 5-mile hike through a city park.  In addition to the elevation challenge, the trail is not manicured and can be quite unstable, and you are carrying your supplies at all times.

In researching a hike of this magnitude, it was advised to keep our packs at 35 pounds or less. Because we had done some backpacking in the past, we already had what we thought was appropriate equipment. We just needed to add a few items and some provisions. We were required to carry a bear canister (which prevents bears from smelling your food), which added weight and took up precious cargo space. Other items included rope, tent, stove, propane, cup, spoon, matches, lighter, sleeping bag and air mattress, buff, bandannas, camp shirt, underwear, long underwear, rain jacket, rain pants, puffy down jacket, socks, gloves, fleece hat, sun hat, sun glasses, eye glasses, knife, compass, whistle, map, wilderness first aid kit and emergency handbook, sun screen, tooth paste and tooth brush, wipes, water treatment tablets, and of course bear spray.  Our food included coffee, chocola