John Muir Trail is a wilderness trail which goes from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney (or vice versa). It’s almost 220 miles in length. Most people attempt it as a thru-hike and it can be said that this is one the most incredible long backpacking trips in the US. It is recommended that you do your research before going on this trail and get used to your gear. Do hike a lot before going out on this hike.
Below are some of the tips that might helpful for anyone considering this amazing trail, especially first-timers and relatively new backpackers.
The first thing that you must do is to be fit. This shouldn’t be your first backpacking trip. You should have experienced at least one backpacking trip of 2-3 nights before going for JMT. Get the right footwear and try it out. It’s probably best if you have your sleep system figured out. As a practice exercise, you can take your backpack everywhere with you e.g. the gym, the grocery store and when you are walking out. The purpose is to practice wearing a heavy backpack before hitting the JMT. Try climbing the stairs or find a hill to go up and down again and again.
Don’t make the mistake of overpacking. Be careful of the extra weight because every ounce counts on the trail. Extra weight will slow you down.
Don’t underestimate the psychological aspect of this hike, especially if you are hiking solo. It is challenging physically, but if you are alone, the mental challenge can be even bigger. Of course, your mental and physical health are connected.
Get a Guide
Buy a guide or two and study them well. Join groups on social media to find out more about the trail. Get yourself a JMT map that is waterproof to take with you on the hike.
Be patient when preparing for the permit process. Things don’t work your way so don’t be stubborn about your choice of the trailhead. Keep an open mind and keep other options into consideration.
Research in Advance
Make sure that you research everything months in advance. If it is going to be hot, it will be very hot. If it is going to be cold, it will be very cold. It might rain or it might be dry enough to suck the water off you. Be prepared for everything.
Bring a Camera
Bring a small but a good quality camera with extra batteries to preserve some good memories of the trail. Just don’t get carried away with heavier gear.
Research your Exit Strategies
Research your exit strategies just in case. You never know when things might go wrong. Always have a plan B or C or D.
Bring yourself a Treat
Bring yourself a treat on the hike, a good book perhaps. It will keep you occupied and probably prevent you from losing your sanity if you are hiking alone.
Be thankful for Nature
Be thankful for nature. Don’t leave a garbage trail behind you. Share with others what you have learned while you were on the trail.