Big Pine Lakes


For the first time in my life, I had Columbus Day off and decided to go on a solo hiking trip for the long weekend. One of my most favorite areas of California is the Eastern Sierra – the valley between the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains which run along the California/Nevada border. The area is beautiful; full of sage brush, aspen, hot springs and mountain views. There was one place in particular that I’ve been wanting to get to for a couple years and figured this was as good …

John Muir Trail – Day 7 & 8


Our last full day on the trail was the one I was most excited about, and which others had been the most worried about. I was excited because we were heading out through the Dusy Basin, a place I heard was incredibly special and beautiful. We were also worried because it was the steepest climb of the trip – 2,400 ft in 2.5 miles – and when we told people we were going that way the reactions ranged from “Good luck,” to “I saw a mule fall off the switchbacks and get eaten by bears.” So, …

John Muir Trail – Day 6 Muir Pass


After waking up in beautiful McClure Meadow we packed up early and headed for the high peaks. We climbed past Evolution Lake, above treeline, and then into the moonscape around Wanda Lake at 11,500 ft. This was one of the most exposed hikes I’ve ever done and the sight distances were incredible. Because it was so rocky the only way to make out the path above was watching to see other hikers creeping up like ants.

Eye Spy two marmots on the rocks!

Up, up up all the way to Muir Pass at 11,955 ft and the famous Muir Hut, …

John Muir Trail – Days 4 & 5


After Heart Lake we passed lovely Sallie Keyes Lake, through some marshlands and streams, and then down many, many dry switchbacks. From Selden Pass it was 6.6 miles and over 3,000 ft down in elevation to Muir Trail Ranch. I planned our itinerary around having a resupply point in the middle of the trip so we only had to carry 4 days of food at a time, and had mailed two 5-gallon buckets to the ranch a month earlier. We expected to catch up with friends on the other side of the pass but it turned out all they could …

John Muir Trail – Days 2 & 3


For most of day 2 we hiked along the Mono Creek. We didn’t have views of the mountains for most of the day since we were deep in a marshy basin, but eventually reached the John Muir Trail after about 10 miles. We made great time since we were trying to outrun mosquitos all morning, so we took a long lunch break and jumped into the river.

Balancing the desires of 5 women was interesting, with some of us preferring to hike hard and fast and cover as much ground as possible, and some of us wanting to go slow …