I was fortunate enough to be able to trek along one fifth of the John Muir Trail this past summer with my two oldest boys as part of their Boy Scout Troops' 50 Miler they take annually for those adventurous enough to join in. This was my second 50 Miler, the first of which was the bottom fifth of the John Muir trail from Onion Valley on the East side of the Sierras to Mt Whitney, something I had always wanted to do. I did this with my oldest son as soon as he was ready for it.
On this particular trip, we were putting in and crossing Bishop Pass which is a 12,000 foot summit. This was one of three 12,000 foot plus summits we would have to cross. As we arrived into Bishop, it started to rain and as we parked, there was another Troop lined up to be picked up. They were all wearing plastic garbage bags and we quickly realized they had not been prepared for the rain and after two days, they turned around and headed back out. Fortunately we all had the proper gear, so in we went. We stayed at a lake near the bottom of Bishop Pass on the first night as the rain did not let up. We set up tents and quickly ate and huddled into our tents for the night.
The next morning when we got up, the rain continued, so we ate quickly again and packed up our stuff and headed up the summit. When we arrived at the top, the visibility was not so great as the rain contiued coming down. We headed south into the heart of the sierras and set up camp at a series of lakes. The rain did not let up, but everyone was still in good shape. The next morning, when we got up, the rain had stopped and sky opened up. Most of that day was heading down further into the Sierras. We camped next to a beautiful stream that afternoon and washed up. Some of the kids had brought their fishing poles and caught and released plenty of trout.
The next day, we did not quite know what was in store as we knew there was going to be an elevation gain as we prepared to summit Mather Pass over what is known as "the Golden Staircase". That day was the toughest day of the trip, as we were hiking uphill all day. We set up camp by a beautiful lake just as it started to rain, typical of the sierras to rain for an hour in the afternoon. After it stopped, more fishing was had, and we ate and star gazed in advance of the "climb" up and over the summit the next day.
Mather Pass was not difficult as most of the climbing was done the day before. We ran into a young couple that was backpacking the entire John Muir Trail, but doing so with micro weight equipment. I was amazed how light everything was that they had brought. We had about 40 Lbs of gear and they were each under 20 Lbs, very impressive. The views at the top of Mather were spectacular. That afternoon we headed down a long valley and camped out preparing for another pass to hurdle.
The next Pass was Pinchot Pass, elevation 12,130 feet. This was a tougher pass to hurdle, only because we had no setup day like we did before Mather Pass. The payoff was a spectacular view southwards as we ate lunch at the top.
The next few days were all down hill as we entered and crossed the beautiful Kings Canyon National Park. Our last campsite was probably the prettiest on the trip, right next to a refreshing creek where we were able to swim and clean up.
We finished up and drove home after another successful trip. I can't wait for the next one, possibly the Rae Lakes Loop out of Kings Canyon over Glenn Pass. My goal is to do a 50 Mile back pack with all three of my boys, but I'll have to wait until my 11 year old gets to age 14 to be fully ready for the challenge.