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John Muir Trail Trip Itinerary

I plan to do an in-depth trip report of my 24 day hike in the coming weeks but for those of you who may be planning your own hike into the Sierras I want to give a breakdown of my itinerary. I was able to stay fairly close to my original plan which rarely happens once you get out on trail. I figured I would do 10-15 miles a day, covering 260ish miles heading northbound from Horseshoe Meadows to Happy Isles in about 26 days. After a rough 2 1/2 weeks on trail I decided to end my hike at Tuolumne Meadows and ended my mileage at 235ish miles. Those last 25 miles from Tuolumne Meadows to Happy Isles will have to wait another year!

For my planning, I read Elizabeth Wenk's book "John Muir Trail, 5th Edition." The book covers the southbound direction of the trail but she also offers an ebook with the northbound specifics. I had the northbound version downloaded to my phone. I also used the National Geographic Topographic Map for the John Muir Trail which I wanted because it showed elevation gain and loss at the bottom of each page. I also used the Guthooks App on my iPhone. I mainly used this during my hike rather than for planning but it was a must have for me. With the Guthooks App I was able to have a topo map of the trail which included current info on campsites, water sources, trail conditions, and side trails. Plus it showed my current GPS location even when my phone was on airplane mode. This was soooo helpful!

Another great resource were the Facebook groups I joined the months leading up to my trip, in particular the Ladies of the John Muir Trail. This group was full of wonderful, badass ladies who have either hiked the trail previously or were also planning their future trips. I didn't feel embarrassed or silly asking my questions, they were nothing but helpful and encouraging. When I had my freak out two weeks before I left for my trip, they were the ones that reassured me that I could do this and I'd regret not trying. I'm so glad I listened to them!

Members of the group are encouraged to wear or carry a teal bandana while on trail so women can identify one another. I met so many wonderful women because of their teal bandanas! My trail mate Zoe was also a member of the group. She and I actually chatted with each other in the Facebook group before we even hit the trail! I highly, highly recommend joining the group, even if you don't plan to hike the JMT. It was great to get advice and hear stories from other adventurous women.

Day 0 - Picked up my permit at the Easter Sierra Interagency Visitor Center in Lone Pine, CA. Left my car at the long term parking lot at the Film History Center, paid Lone Pine Kurt to get a ride to the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead. Set up camp in a campsite ($6 fee) and slept, anxious for the hike to start the next day!

Day 1 - Started from the Horseshoe Meadows trailhead, hiked 10 miles up and over Cottonwood Pass, past Chicken Spring Lake to a campsite a couple miles past the trail junction for Siberian Pass. Dry camp.

Day 2 - Hiked 11 miles down to Rock Creek, up and over Guyot Pass to Crabtree Meadows. Camped at Crabtree Meadow close to the Rangers Stations with all the PCT hikers.

Day 3 - Hiked 12 miles to the summit of Mt. Whitney back down to Guitar Lake. Long day. 

Day 4 - Didn't get moving until the afternoon. Hiked 5.5 miles to a campsite on the ridge of Mt. Young. Dry camp.

Day 5 - Hiked 7 miles over Bighorn Plateau to a campsite about a mile north of Tyndall Creek in the last stand of trees before the trail continues up to Forester.

Day 6 - Up and over Forester Pass. Hiked 8.5 miles and camped in a big group campsite by Bubbs Creek.

Day 7 - Hiked 11.5 miles from Bubbs Creek to the Onion Valley Trailhead via Bullfrog Lake Trail up and over Kearsarge Pass. Got a ride into town of Independence, CA where I had a motel reservation and my first resupply box. 

Day 8 - Zero day/rest day (zero miles hiked)!

Day 9 - Hiked back up and over Kearsarge Pass and then up and over Glen Pass to Rae Lakes. Hiked 10.5 miles and camped by the bear boxes. 

Day 10 - Hiked 8.5 miles from Rae Lakes to a campsite two miles north of Woods Creek.

Day 11 - Hiked 10 miles up and over Pinchot Pass. Camped by the South Fork of the Kings River. 

Day 12 - 10 mile day up and over Mather Pass, down to Palisade Lakes. Camped at the northwest end of the last lake. 

Day 13 - Hiked 11 miles from Palisade Lakes, down the Golden Staircase, up Le Conte Canyon and camped in a stand of trees in Little Pete Meadow, just north of Bishop Pass Trail.

Day 14 - 11 miles up and over Muir Pass, camped at Sapphire Lake.

Day 15 - Hiked 13 miles past Evolution Lake, through Evolution Valley, to a group campsite right by Piute Creek.

Day 16 - 12.5 miles, picked up my second resupply at Muir Trail Ranch, continued up and over Selden Pass, camped by West Fork Bear Creek.

Day 17 - Hiked 12.5 miles to Vermilion Valley Resort via the Bear Ridge Trail.

Day 18 - Zero day!

Day 19 - 9 miles, took the ferry across Lake Thomas Edison, hiked back to the JMT via the Mono Creek Trail. Continued up and over Silver Pass, camped at Squaw Lake.  

Day 20 - Hiked 10 miles to campsite a little past the Duck Pass Trail junction.

Day 21 - Hiked 11 miles to Reds Meadow for my third resupply box. Split a room for the night.

Day 22 - 13 miles, up through Devil's Postpile, up to Garnet Lake. Found a small campsite between the top of the "pass" and the footbridge at the bottom of Garnet Lake Outlet. 

Day 23 - Hiked 11.5 miles past Thousand Island Lake, up and over Island Pass and Donohue Pass. Camped where the JMT crosses Lyell Fork.

Day 24 - Last day! Hiked 13 miles through Lyell Canyon to the store/post office/restaurant in Tuolumne Meadows. 

Total mileage - 235ish miles

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