170 Miles Barefoot on the John Muir Trail

Last year I set out to complete the John Muir Trail (JMT) with a twist.  I’d hike it barefoot.  Why?  Barefoot is simple.  Natural.  Intense.  Every step is an adventure.  But the terrain was more difficult than I expected.  Out of the JMT’s total distance of 211 miles, I completed 150 miles barefoot, or about 70%.

This year I came back determined to do the whole thing.

The following is an account of what happened, written with three audiences in mind.  First, of course, hardcore barefoot hikers looking for a challenge.  Second, conventional hikers.  Presumably these people do not wear boots to the beach, so therefore I thought they might enjoy going barefoot where the trails are soft and sandy, putting on shoes when rocks appear.  Call it a hybrid approach.  Third, I had in mind the woman I encountered last year, descending from Donahue Pass (11,066 feet).  She said her feet were so sensitive she couldn’t tolerate going barefoot in the bathroom.  She won’t try it, but I thought she might be curious what it’s like. Continue reading “170 Miles Barefoot on the John Muir Trail”

170 Miles Barefoot on the John Muir Trail

Bishop Pass and Sabrina Lake

After three days in Lone Pine, California, the grand tour of Owens Valley continues, and now it’s time for Bishop.  First stop:  the public land visitor’s center, where I enter the lottery for an overnight permit for the Bishop Pass trail.  It’s a popular trail, but there’s not much competition mid-week, and a little later that morning, after a series of instructions from the Rangers (where to park, where to camp, how to dispose of waste, how to keep bears from eating your food, and not to mention watch out for dead deer on the pass and the thunderstorm forecast for tomorrow afternoon) — I stroll out with permit, map, and rented bear canister in hand.  Now it’s time to prepare for the mission: map the drive to the trailhead, study the route, buy food, pack my pack, and rig up a carrying strap for the bear canister so I can sling it over a shoulder, it being far too large to fit in my 20-liter day pack.

The next morning I’m up at 3:00 AM, determined to steal a march on the weather and secure a parking spot before the crowds….

Continue reading “Bishop Pass and Sabrina Lake”

Bishop Pass and Sabrina Lake