John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park
Sep 14, 2018, Destinations
In my never-ending pursuit of finding new adventures I returned to the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains for a multi-day backpacking trip for the first time in 20 years! For us California natives we simply call this the “High Sierras”, and as John Muir called it, “the gentle wilderness”. This proved to be true since I found crystal-clear skies, warm weather and very mild nights, with not a drop of rain the entire 9 days and 8 nights I was in the wilderness, even at elevations above tree-line. Additionally, there was not even a sign of black bear anywhere on the trip which was the biggest surprise, and a welcome one at that! What was no surprise was the usual stunning scenery of rugged, high mountains, clear flowing streams and rivers, beautiful green mountain meadows, and endless white granite which is so predominant in the California Sierras.
Our trip began with a boat ride across Florence Lake to access the trailhead and then it wasn’t long before my friends and I were on the John Muir Trail. This trail is one of the most famous thru-hikes in America winding 210 miles over and through the spine of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from Mt. Whitney at the southern end (the highest mountain in the lower 48 states) to Yosemite Valley at the northern terminus. We only sought to hike a small portion of the trail in order to spend a few days exploring off-trail, by hiking cross-country up to some magnificent valleys and lakes, and underneath some dramatic mountain cirques. One of our high points was a scramble up to a high pass where we could eat lunch in the most awesome of locations gazing out at the wonder of the Glacier Divide, with Mt. Darwin, Mt. Mendel, and others marking the outer boundary of Kings Canyon National Park.
Fishing was good for the small Golden Trout that are present in these high rivers and lakes and we ate fresh trout on 4 nights since we were camped just below the 10,000 ft elevation limit on fires. Not even the finest restaurant can provide the culinary satisfaction of eating trout from the river after a hard day of hiking.
A favorite section of the hike was the incredible Evolution Valley and McClure Meadow, rimmed by tall mountains and bisected by free-flowing, clear Evolution Creek. In all my years of hiking in the Sierras I’ve not seen any more beautiful location.
I don’t expect any of my corporate clients to try such a strenuous trip but for the hardy individual, with the right gear, I’m happy to share my knowledge of these mountains and even my secret campsites!