A normal backpacking John Muir Trail takes over twenty days and not everyone has the ability to a prolonged time off work we have divide the trip annual segments. This enables you to plan ahead, take your time and truly enjoy the experience.
You can expect to cover 6 to twelve miles a day and then we build in layover days to simply relax, sit by the stream, fish or, if you are feeling energetic, to climb a peak.
Below are very tentative day-by-day itineraries. There are a lot of things that can change this schedule such as weather, minor injury, tired mules or just the desire for a rest day so the actual camps are certain to vary but they give you a general outline of the route
So be flexible and adapt to the inevitable changes that will occur.
Section One: Cottonwood to Onion Valley
Ten Days, Fifty Miles
Day 1 Cottonwood to Chicken Springs Lake
Day 2 Chicken Springs Lake to Rock Creek
Day 3 Rock Creek to Crabtree
Day 4 Crabtree to Guitar Lake
Day 5 Climb Mt Whitney and descend to Crabtree
Day 6 Crabtree to Tyndall Creek
Day 7 Layover day
Day 8 Tyndall Creek to Upper Bubbs Creek
Day 9 Layover day
Day 10 Bubbs Creek to Onion Valley
Section Two: Onion Valley to Bishop Pass
Ten Days, Fifty Miles
Day 1 Onion Valley to Charlotte Lake
Day 2 Charlotte Lake to Rae Lakes
Day 3 Layover day
Day 4 Rae Lakes to Woods Creek
Day 5 Wood Creek to South Fork of Kings River
Day 6 South Fork of Kings River to Upper Basin
Day 7 Upper Basin to Deer Meadow
Day 8 Layover Day
Day 9 Palisade Creek to Lower Dusy Basin
Day 10 Lower Dusy Basin to South Lake
Section Three: Bishop Pass to Red’s Meadow
Eleven Days, Sixty five Miles
Day 1 South Lake to Lower Dusy Basin
Day 2 Lower Dusy Basin to Le Conte Canyon
Day 3 Le Conte Canyon to Colby
Day 4 Layover
Day 5 Colby to South Fork of San Joaquin River
Day 6 San Joaquin River to Rose-Marie Meadow
Day 7 Layover
Day 8 Rose-Marie Meadow to Quail Meadow
Day 9 Quail Meadow to Horse Heaven
Day 10 Horse Heaven to Deer Creek
Day 11 Deer Creek to Red’s Meadow
Section Four: Red’s Meadow to Yosemite
Eight Days, Fifty Miles
Day 1 Reds Meadow to Gladys Lake
Day 2 Gladys Lake to Thousand Island Lake
Day 3 Thousand Island Lake To Upper Rush Creek
Day 4 Upper Rush Creek to Lyell Canyon
Day 5 Lyell Canyon to Cathedral Lake
Day 6 To Sunrise Creek Day
Day 7 Layover
Day 8 Sunrise Creek to Yosemite
The big question everyone asks is "how much will I have to carry?" And the answer is - not much. A day pack, water, extra clothing etc. It should be less than 10 pounds.
These are long trips and for many people may be the longest backcountry trip they have ever done. Because of the length there is always the potential for things to go wrong and the unexpected to occur. Your guide will be trained in wilderness first aid and will carry a radio or cell phone for emergency communications. (No, not for personal use and calling home!). Family and friends can contact you through our office, but because of the problems of communication in the backcountry the delay can be substantial.
You need to be in good shape for the trip. This does not mean being a super fit marathoner though. Some days are long; some are short and some we do not move camp at all. But you need to be prepared for up to twelve miles a day with a light daypack, although these will be not the norm. The most important thing is endurance and the ability to deal with whatever happens. Please contact us for details if you have specific questions.
We do this trip from late August to early September to get what we consider to be the best conditions. Most biting insects and bugs should be gone. Days, while getting shorter should be warm with day temperatures in the 60-degree region and nights dipping to about 32 degrees rarely and only at the higher elevation. There may be small snow patches on the highest passes, but not enough to warrant ice axe and crampon use. Stream flows will be well below peak flow and most should be easy to cross. There is the possibility of afternoon thunderstorms that may be heavy for a short time. You will be in the high mountains so there is always the chance of snow, but prolonged storms are not common at this time of year.
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