The Muir Project is a collective of multimedia artists and outdoor enthusiasts, which set out on July 10, 2011, to hike the John Muir Trail and record their experiences. 219 miles in 25 days. In that epic snow year in the High Sierras, they left their daily lives behind in search of new adventures. They sought the thrill of the trail, the challenge of the miles, and the ability to capture the beauty and wonder of the journey itself. Along the way, they were joined by musicians, painters, teachers, and other adventure-seekers. Amid the grandeur and daily grind, they discovered what matters most is the opportunity to seek adventure wherever and whenever you can. “Mile… Mile & A Half” is the feature-length documentary of that story from The Muir Project.
Here are their SIX favorite places along the JMT:
The Golden Staircase
The Golden Staircase is not only one of the more physically demanding parts of the JMT, but it’s also one of the most dramatic. The views that you get back towards the canyon are some of the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. Once you’ve huffed and puffed your way to the top of it, you’re rewarded with the Palisade Lakes, which are almost like a science fiction landscape. They are so amazing. With waterfalls descending from towering peaks in all directions into a crystal clear lake, I think it had to be the most special place on the trail for me.
Woods Creek Suspension Bridge
It might be an odd choice to choose a man-made structure in a land of natural wonder, but there is something really intriguing about that bridge. Maybe it’s just the fact that somebody took the time and effort to build something that intricate and substantial so far away from anything that resembles civilization. We crossed it on a pretty tough and rainy day, and were all immensely cheered up by jaunting across it (especially after several cold creek crossings in the rain).
Thousand Island Lakes
They say this was Ansel Adams’ favorite place in the Sierras, and you can instantly tell why. All of the mini-islands dotting the water and the majestic Ritter in the background make for a gorgeous view. Whether the height of summer or winter, this location retains its beauty and grandeur and will forever be a place I will gladly revisit – again & again.
Near Pete’s Meadow is a pretty established campsite known as Whale Rock. After the tough ascent – and somehow even more difficult descent from Muir Pass, it was fantastic to see this rock formation, and the additions from fellow travelers, to remind us how much fun the trail can be.
The funny thing is that images just don’t do this location justice. Why? Because the views are incredible and diverse within a 50-feet radius. One side is the immense bowl that leads up to Silver Pass and borders idyllic Squaw Lake. Take a little walk and you see the drop-off view of the climb you just made and the valley below. We certainly wished we had more time at this location because it offered so much.
What list would be complete without at least one of the passes? I’m sure that on any given day, the “favorite” of the passes would change, as they are all challenging and stunning. If you’re having a rough day, that pass you are crossing may not be your particular favorite, as you just pray it will be over soon. And although a few of us got off-track on this long trek up, and rain appeared on the way down, it had the great diversity of terrain you hope for on a through-hike.
If you have any spots, you loved on the JMT make sure to leave them in the comments!
All photos are courtesy of The Muir Project and should not be used without their consent.
About the Author
The Muir Project successfully reached (and surpassed) its Kickstarter funding goal of $78K for “Mile… Mile & A Half” earlier this week! You can view the trailer for the project below, which is sure to be amazing.
To learn more and view additional footage, please visit: www.themuirproject.com.