I’m Back From Hiking The John Muir Trail! See My 11 Favorite Photos!

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I just returned from an incredible two weeks on the John Muir Trail. Julia and I hiked 222 miles from Yosemite Valley to Whitney Portal, climbing 47,000 ft of elevation, and got to enjoy Yosemite National Park, Ansel Adams Wilderness, John Muir Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. It was truly a one of a kind experience, and the trip of a life time. There are a lot of great backpacking and trekking trips around the world, but very few can match the astounding beauty found in the High Sierra.  We saw deer, marmots, trout, and tadpoles, walked among more trees and wildflowers than any person could ever count, skirted the banks of glacial lakes, drank and bathed in alpine streams, slept at the foot of mountains, crossed passes higher than 12,000ft, and summited Mt. Whitney at 14,496ft. This is just the very beginning though. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting a full trip report with gear reviews, photos, video, and everything I did to prepare for the John Muir Trail.

Below, you will find a photo from each day with a short description. Keep an eye out for a lot more photos and content as I process this amazing trip in the days ahead.

Day 1: Happy Isles to Tuolumne Meadows – 23.9 Miles (23.9 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 1
John Muir Trail Day 1: After Sunrise Camp

Day 2: Tuolumne Meadows to Thousand Island Lake – 19.1 Miles (43 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 2
John Muir Trail Day 2: Before Donahue Pass

Day 3: Thousand Island Lake to Deer Creek – 22 Miles (65 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 3
John Muir Trail Day 3: At Garnet Lake

Day 4: Deer Creek to Silver Pass Lake  – 17.5 Miles (82.5 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 4
John Muir Trail Day 4: Before Silver Pass

Day 5: Silver Pass Lake to Marie Lake – 18.2 Miles (100.7 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 5
John Muir Trail Day 5: Following The Creek to Marie Lake

Day 6: Marie Lake to Colby Meadow – 18.3 Miles (119 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 6
John Muir Trail Day 6: Just Before the Creek Wade

Day 7: Colby Meadow to Grouse Meadows – 18 Miles (137 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 7
John Muir Trail Day 7: Leaving Muir Pass

Day 8: Grouse Meadows to Marjorie Lake – 21.8 Miles (158.8 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 8
John Muir Trail Day 8: After Reaching Mather Pass

Day 9: Marjorie Lake to Kearsarge Pass – 20.6 Miles (179.4 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 9
John Muir Trail Day 9: Enjoying Rae Lakes

Day 10: Kearsarge Pass to Guitar Lake – 26.4 Miles (205.8 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 10
John Muir Trail Day 10: Looking Out From Forester Pass

Day 11: Guitar Lake to Whitney Portal – 16.2 Miles (222 Total)

John Muir Trail Day 11
John Muir Trail Day 11: At The Summit Of Mt. Whitney

Bonus Photos: Burger and Fries to Celebrate At Whitney Portal!

Whitney Portal: The End
Whitney Portal: The End
Whitney Portal Burger
Whitney Portal Burger

4th Of July On Cucamonga Peak Final John Muir Trail Training 07.04.15

Gear Review: Tarptent Double Rainbow


81 thoughts on “I’m Back From Hiking The John Muir Trail! See My 11 Favorite Photos!”

  1. Looks amazing, great photos! Where did you park when you got to the starting point and how did you get picked up at the finish?

    • Thanks!! We parked at the Dow Villa long-term lot in Lone Pine to start. From there, we took the Eastern Sierra Transit shuttle to Mammoth, and the YARTS bus from Mammoth to Yosemite Valley. The total was about $35 a person. This made it really nice, as we just hitched a ride from Whitney Portal to Lone Pine at the end, and were able to drive right home. You can also park at Whitney Portal, which makes things even easier when you finish. There are some personal driver services that will take you from Lone Pine/Whitney Portal to Yosemite Valley, but they charge a few hundred dollars.

      You can also do it all in reverse if you park in Yosemite to start, and then take a shuttle back when you finish. I’d love to walk the JMT again with a northbound hike next time, so I’ll probably have to park in Lone Pine, and then take the shuttle back from Yosemite Valley. There are a ton of ways to get to and from each trail head. I’m going to fill out my John Muir Trail page here on the blog in the coming weeks with all of this information in detail.

  2. What beautiful nature you both experienced! Looks like one to add to my list! Nice that there are so many spots with water along the way! Way to roar as always!

    • Thanks! It was incredible. It’s nice to only need 1 or 2 liters at a time. It was crazy to see so much water running in a drought year. It helped that we got hit with a few thunderstorms while on the trail.

    • It does! I loved the Mountain House teriyaki chicken meal for dinner, and lots of ProBars and PlayHardGiveBack trail mix during the day. I found myself craving real foods by the end though. I never thought I’d eat so much salad and fruit upon returning home!

  3. Wow, it looks like you had an incredible trip! Your photos are breathtaking and makes me want to get out there and hike 🙂 I’m excited to read more about it!

  4. Absolutely love your photos!! Can’t wait to see your other entries about JMT. I have been looking at doing some long distance through hiking and you have just made this the top of my list! Much training and preparation to be done. Think I am going to hike the John Muir Way in Scotland first!

    • Thanks! Thru-hiking is a lot of fun! This was my longest trip so far (not counting the 500 mile Camino). We shared the trail with the northbound PCT hikers going from Mexico to Canada. I was envious that they had the time and drive to make that happen. I didn’t know there was a John Muir Way in Scotland! How cool is that. I’ll have to add it to my list!

    • Thanks! I pretty much just selected the first one I really liked from each day. I have more than 100 shots for each day of hiking, so I’ll have a lot more to add on the daily trip reports.

  5. Absolutely breathtaking! Thank you for sharing! I have this hike on my list in a few years when I retire. Would you please share the gear you used and your choice of hiking shoes? Thanks so much!

    • Thanks, Cat! I’ll be doing a full review and analysis of all the gear I used and my hiking shoes. I’m going to get working on it this weekend and hope to have it all done within a month.

  6. That was an intense 11 days with some serious miles each day – It’s great that you could stop to take great photos for your readers. AND after hearing about the “unmissable” hikes in New Zealand, it’s great to read about an incredible hike in the US. Thanks!

    • We love doing big days! I took a lot of time to take photos and videos on this trip, around 20 GB worth! I’m editing the photos now, and hope to have JMT video on my YouTube channel, too! I’ve read a lot about the great hikes in New Zealand as well. I feel like my list of places to hike grows daily!

  7. Great photos! Looks like a fairly fast pace! My entry date is August 23rd and I’m only planning 10-12 miles a day. I’m, what I consider, very fit and wondered what your training looked like and your fitness level? On average how many hours a day did you log. Don’t want to preempt your report but curious.

    • Nice! You’ll be on the trail soon! 10-12 miles a day should be a pretty manageable pace. I’m always in a state of training, so my fitness level was pretty high. I was at about 500 miles of hiking training since January with 145,000ft of elevation gain before leaving for the JMT. I also go to the gym 5 days a week and mix in a little running here and there. 11 days was pretty comfortable with 10 hour days, which is what I usually do for my weekend hikes here at home. I’d like to try a 7-8 day northbound hike someday, as I think it would be easily doable in nice weather. Weather is key. Rain can really slow you down, and thunderstorms on looming passes can also put an end to a day pretty early.

      You’ll hear people argue on both sides as to what constitutes an “enjoyable” hike. I love hiking, going light, being on the trail, and doing big days. I know to others this sounds like a nightmare. For me, a heavy pack, and lounging around a campsite for hours each day would drive me mad. Once you know what works for you, plan it out, and have a great time! Happy trails!

    • Thank you! The JMT is a great adventure to add to your bucketlist. It was on mine for a while, and it lived up to the billing for sure. I’ll be putting together a comprehensive planning guide once I finish these daily reports, so keep and eye out.

  8. Awesome photos, Drew! We are really looking forward to reading your full trip reports as we hope to do the JMT next summer. FYI: we randomly met Phillip, the founder of the 52 Hike Challenge, while we were hiking this summer in Peru. We told him we knew about the 52 Hike Challenge because of your blog. Pretty cool!

    • Thanks! Awesome to hear you’re planning to walk next summer. Start preparing to submit permits at the turn of the new year. That was probably the hardest part of the whole process! Very cool that you met Phillip in Peru! I ran into him at the top of Mt. Baldy one day, and it was cool to finally meet him after being friends on instagram for a while.

  9. A true man-sized adventure and great pictures. I hope to tackle the JMT someday. I look forward to seeing the rest of your pictures and video.

  10. Drew- those pics are amazing!!!! I am so impressed! So looking forward to seeing more. I am very much a beginner and can’t even imagine those kinds of elevations or the daily miles ya’ll did!


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