Posts Tagged With: High altitude hiking

John Muir Trail: Impressions along the trail

The perfect imprint of a bare foot along the trail puzzled me.

It was our 26th day of walking when I began tracking the barefoot prints leading down the switchbacks to Garnet Lake. I wondered if someone was walking in those barefoot shoes, the ones with individual slots for each of your toes. But the prints were so perfect, as if each step had been carefully placed to create the most precise impression.

Kenneth Posner stopped for a quick chat and photo.

Playing the part of a JMT detective, I tracked the footprints downhill. They all looked pretty fresh, so I figured sooner or later Reg and I were bound to catch up with the owner. Up ahead, carefully choosing each step along a rockier part of the trail was Ken, the barefoot hiker. We exchanged a few pleasantries. If my memory is correct, at that point he had walked 148 miles without shoes. An unusual approach to hiking the John Muir Trail, but as our friend Lori is fond of saying, ”You’ve got to hike your own hike.” We played leapfrog along the trail throughout the morning before losing sight of him.
When we told the story around our dinner circle that night, Emma, the packer who led our mule train, laughed and explained that when she came up behind him on the trail and saw his shorts and black leggings, she assumed it was Reg and (ready to give a lecture on safety) shouted down at him, ”Where are your shoes?”

That was the only day we saw Ken and we wondered what had become of him. While scrolling through Facebook the other day, I stumbled upon a post which led me to Ken’s blog post and my questions were answered. I’ve included a link for you below.

https://thelongbrownpath.com/2021/09/10/170-miles-barefoot-on-the-john-muir-trail/

I’d encourage you to read through his story. It’s inspiring and may just encourage you to ”hike your own hike” someday too!

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

Mount Whitney or bust

*Click on title above to activate slideshow below

Sunrise from the trail up Mt. Whitney.

It was pitch black when Reg shook me awake and said, “Honey, I’m leaving.” Up until that point, I don’t think Reg had definitely decided to make the climb. It was 4:00 am and having made the decision to take a rest day, catch up on chores and better adjust to the altitude, I grunted and rolled over.

While I puttered around the campsite with three others who chose to remain behind, Reg and seven hikers from our group, along with Lane, one of our packers, journeyed to the top of the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. There is no easy way to the top, and from what Reg said, much of it was a group effort of encouragement.

Reg continued up the trail and conquered the mountain, fulfilling one of the John Muir Trail goals he set for himself.

The afternoon brought good news from all seven hikers. Everyone had made it to the top, the weather was perfect and Reg managed to correct his wrong turn on the way down…before ending up at the wrong trailhead.

Pictured above is Lane, our walking packer who often brought up the rear of our daily hikes – checking on our progress and making sure we had what we needed. According to Reg, he was full of encouragement in the early morning hours of the Whitney climb. The photo on the right shows Guitar Lake, shaped like, you guessed it, a guitar. What a surprise!

What other surprises will John Muir’s Trail hold for us?

Categories: John Muir Trail | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

A Mammoth Walk in California

Full disclosure: We did not walk up the mountain. Our intention was to wander around up top to get a feel for the altitude, so we chose the gondola for a quick and easy ascent. We were met with gorgeous 360 degree views from what felt like the top of the world.

Reg struck up a conversation with a couple who had made the walk up from the main lodge, claiming to have completed the 2,000 foot climb in about 2 hours. They seemed a little surprised that we had taken the easy way to the top. Feeling a bit wimpy and wanting to salvage our pride, we decided to walk back down the mountain.

It turned out to be a great decision. The hike was well marked, not too steep and filled with jaw-dropping scenery. The trail filled our morning, depositing us back at the lodge right about noon…just in time for lunch!

Categories: California | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Travels With Minnie: Up High in the Rocky Mountains

A few miles outside of Breckenridge, Colorado, at just over 10,000 feet, lies the trailhead for three lakes; Mayflower and the Upper and Lower Mohawk Lakes. Our plan was to try to make it to Mayflower, the lowest of the trio. It was tough going at first, but we wanted to test ourselves with some high altitude hiking while here.

It’s not large, but Mayflower Lake (above) sits in a pretty spectacular setting. Given the overflowing parking area, we were surprised to find we had the place to ourselves. After a rest and a quick snack, we decided to push on towards Lower Mohawk Lake, just under a mile up the trail.

The trail markers were few and far between. A dreaded water crossing bisected the trail, a true test of balance. Graceful…we were not, but we made it across the rushing stream without incident. An old cabin appeared, a sort of hut with benches and what looked like an operable wood burning stove. From there the trail all but disappeared, and as we ate lunch (at 11,400 feet) groups scrambled their way up and down the steep rocky hillside in front of us. We decided we’d had enough.

We returned via the Spruce Creek Trail, a beautiful, shaded walk through trees and open meadows (above) with views up the mountains. All in all, a successful day up high in the Rocky Mountains.

Categories: Travels With Minnie | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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