Who ever created the world sure went through a lot of trouble, it would be down right rude of me not to go out and see as much as possible… -Edward Readicker-Henderson
our first nights feast was a good one
we caught fish like this everyday
hiking action shot
Atop of Donahue Pass looking forward to this day of hiking
rainbow falls 3 miles out of the way but worth it.
1 of the 26 camps we called home…
Think we were smiling?
30 ft gainers to test the depths!
evolution lake after a night of lightning storms at 11,426ft
the reason behind the john muir trail was herding sheep from yosemite south to these lakes through the high sierras
mosquitoes weren’t the only things that ate us alive
mike j crocodile dundee
We hiked North to South from Yosemite to Mount Whitney
Woods Creek Bridge
Arrowhead lake outlet with Fin Dome in the backround
our night below whitney
We had a couple sketchy nights for sure
sunrise over the sierra’s
it was a cold last night in the whitney hut
250 miles hiked and we made it atop Whitney so stoked to know we would be surfing within 48 hours but so bummed our trip was over
Walking up from Guitar Lakes to the Summit of Mount Whitney we looked back at this view probably 100 times knowing it would be our last day in the Sierras until next year
The summer in Orange County is a unique and interesting time of the year. On one hand it brings sunshine, beautiful weather and playful south swells that can keep any surfer entertained. On the other hand, Huntington Beach hosts the U.S. Open of Surfing which brings mountains of trash and enough bros to fill a Moto cross arena so I was more than happy to make the trade for the Golden Trout and towering peaks of the High Sierra’s. A journey along the John Muir Trail was just the thing to distract Toes on the Nose team rider, Tim Sachs and fellow adventurer Lafe Issacson to team up with me and escape from the blackballs and blown out afternoons we have grown so familiar with. Trading the congested lanes of PCH to chasing black bears down the trails of America’s most beautiful thru-hike was just what the doctor ordered.
Ascending out of Yosemite Valley, we make a group decision to take in the beauty of our environment at our own pace, supplement our diet with what we could from the land, and have more fun and adventure than anyone else on the trail. Our final destination was 218 miles away on the granite covered summit of the highest peaks in the contiguous United States. Mount Whitney towers 14,508 feet above sea level and our bodies had plenty of time to acclimate during our eleven mountain passes and countless uphill miles. Breaking through a mountain pass at 13,000 feet gives you a sense of accomplishment much like sticking a steep drop and making that barrel you couldn’t see an end to. It’s tedious, it takes effort and constant focus and when you make it, it’s a feeling that few get to experience and no one can take away.
Being away from the ocean in the summer was tough but we were able to get our water fix by jumping off the highest rocks we could find into crystal blue pools and rivers and often venturing miles off trail to soak in hot springs surrounded by the forest. We traded in kayak fishing and diving on Corona Del Mar’s rocky coast for fishing on the banks of the Tuolmne, King, and San Juaquin rivers. Surrounded by the Minarets, Tim and I pulled a combo of 60+ brooke, brown, and rainbow trout out of a pond leading from Garnett Lake in less than an hour and decided to stop keeping track of our fish count because it was just getting too ridiculous. Some of the best trout fishing I’ve ever experienced in some of the most amazing scenery we could imagine; we were doing something special, and we knew it the whole time. Our senses were on overload as we hiked through the Golden Staircases where Lafe spotted a perfect eating size California Quail. With a quick shot from my trusty wrist rocket, Quail and trout Pad Thai was on the menu for dinner. Catching and collecting extra additions to our to our freeze dried meals was an extremely gratifying and fun part of the trip. My taste buds still miss the taste of the purple flowered Sierra Swap Onion. Taking a break from the trail to harvest these delights surrounded by Jeffery Pine and Primrose was a daily ritual that I have truly missed.
Lightning storms and monsoons graciously replaced the everyday mundane June gloom we were used too. Descending into Evolution Valley, the beginning of the most magnificent lightning storm I have ever experienced was starting. We were arriving to the lake late in the day and we just barely set up camp on the south side of the lake when the sky started erupting. We raced to tear down tents and get away from all of our metal knowing very well that people die each year in the High Sierras due to lightning strikes. Doing our best trying to avoid being a statistic, we huddled under the 8×8 tarp I had and we fought, shouted at, and laughed through the wind and the rain and watched in nervous astonishment as the lightning storm passed over from one side of the valley to the other.
The last three days of the hike we had the awesome opportunity to spend some time hiking towards Mount Whitney with Elizabeth Wenk, the author of the Essential Guide to the John Muir Trail which is comparable to the Bible while on the trail. Elizabeth was an idol to all of us and had a complete wealth of knowledge on the trail and was eager to educate us on any question we could throw at her. Elizabeth Wenk has put in enough time and miles in the Sierras to challenge Muir himself but was still and extremely humble and caring individual. (she later helped with saving the live of a distraught hiker with extreme altitude sickness after summiting Whitney herself.)
We summited the top of Mount Whitney on July 29th 2013(exactly one year from the first time Lafe and I first hiked Whitney) just in time to catch an incredible sunset. We spent the night in the hut on top of Mt. Whitney with some new friends of the trail and awaited our last day in the Sierras. We woke up in time to catch the sunrise and take in the last 22 days of our lives. After sunrise and eating the last bits of food we had we charged the 11 or so miles down Whitney to meet Katie, Tim’s girlfriend, and the nearest hamburger stand we could find. Looking back on the trip and the experiences Lafe, Tim, and I shared it’s hard for me to imagine another place where you can throw a 40 ft gainer, shoot a quail, catch 10 golden trout, a lizard, a snake, a marmot, and chase a bear through a meadow all in the same day. But yet again, the John Muir Trail is a place all in its own.
“Who gains the blessing of one Mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.” John Muir
Written by: Mike Jorgensen