John Muir Trail: No escaping the tough climb

*Click on the above title to activate the slideshow below

The trail in front of us promised a challenging day as it disappeared into the mountains ahead.

Reg and I are not the type of hikers who study the trail map in great detail every morning. As long as we are confident we can get from point A to point B, we look forward the surprises the trail offers, so we were quite pleased when the morning began with a pleasant walk along a fairly flat dirt trail.

But on our 6th day of walking we were aware there would be no escaping the tough climb ahead. Those of us who chose to sit out Mt. Whitney had no choice but to conquer 13,200 foot Forester Pass. The day wore on and the trail became steeper and rockier as we continued the 2,300 foot climb to the top of Forester Pass. We soon found ourselves on a series of long switchbacks, struggling over chunky granite cobblestones and clambering over boulders that stretched our legs to the limit.

And then the mules caught up with us. Normally they were roped together in 3 groups led by Emma, Wyatt and Tate on horseback. Before starting up the pass, the mules were untied for safety. They are pretty sure-footed animals, but if one slipped on the narrow, steep switchbacks while tied together, they would fall like dominoes, scattering rocks and boulders on hikers below.

I’m afraid my photos don’t do the scene justice, nor do they show just how treacherous and how tight the final switchbacks to the summit are.

There is surprisingly little space on the top of the pass, but there are never ending 360 degree views.

I’m looking pretty relaxed after what was easily the climb of my life, but at this point our day was only half over. What more could John Muir confront us with?

Categories: John Muir Trail | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “John Muir Trail: No escaping the tough climb

  1. That looks very impressive. I’m curious ( I’m not American so perhaps not as knowledgeable as I might be), is that the same John Muir trail that we joined on our way down from our trek up to Half Dome in Yosemite a couple of years back? The landscape where you are looks very different but I guess the trail covers a large area. Enjoy what looks like a wonderful trek!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this is the same John Muir Trail you would have joined. We began the hike at the opposite end (south end) from where you were. We finished up in Yosemite valley after walking 240 miles.


  2. Lori OliverTierney

    I honestly believe Forester was a much more difficult climb than Whitney for me. I went SOBO and after doing Forester Whitney was not daunting. My hat is off to you. And you are right the photos don’t show how steep and treacherous Forester really is. I was so happy to be on my feet not a horse. It was definitely hard to find a non exposed place to pee on that trail. I had a UTI by then and needed to pee a lot. TMI. Anyway so proud of you both. Happy trails

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lori

    Good thinking. I wish I had taken some antibiotics with me. I won’t be so foolish next time.

    Liked by 1 person

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