Mile... Mile & a Half
July 21, 2015 6:02 PM   Subscribe

"Mile... Mile & a Half" is the answer that hikers give when you ask 'How far from here to there?', according to this documentary: Five artists/friends left their daily lives behind to hike California’s historic John Muir Trail, a 211-mile stretch from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. The trip lasted 25 days and was funded by a successful kickstarter campaign a few years ago. The movie will wake the wanderlust feelings in you, and is available on the usual channels.
posted by growabrain (11 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
From The Trail page: "There’s a reason that “Backpacker Magazine” ranked California’s John Muir Trail as the best Hike in the World in it’s November 2010 issue. Stretching 211 miles from Yosemite Valley to the summit of the contiguous United States’ highest peak, Mount Whitney, it rambles through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery that the heart and mind could conceive. Most of your days are spent above 10,000 feet, where you’ll experience the High Sierras in all of it’s grandeur and beauty."

This looks inspiring! This would be a dream of mine - to explore, retrace John Muir's footsteps of discovery, and truly see California in all it's splendor. Thanks for sharing!
posted by hampanda at 7:28 PM on July 21, 2015

I was on the John Muir for a few hours this year as I descended from Half Dome (OK, OK Sub Dome because I suffer debilitating vertigo while peaking) in Yosemite and if the rest of it is even remotely as beautiful and awe-inspiring and life-changing as that little stretch between Nevada Falls and the Yosemite Valley was then it's a must-hike for me. One day.

Shameless self link to a photo(s) I took from the trail above and around from Nevada Falls.
posted by carsonb at 7:35 PM on July 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I hiked the JMT last summer and absolutely loved it. Not only is the scenery spectacular, but taking the whole thing at a walking pace and with a guidebook in hand (Wenk) gives you a first-hand glimpse into geological scales of time and space. It's a pretty unique experience.

I watched this documentary afterwards (well, the first half of it) and didn't care for it that much, mostly because it seems to focus more on the people in it than the trail itself. I feel like the beauty of the High Sierra speaks for itself and everything else detracts in comparison. Then again, I seem to be in the minority with this opinion. Anything which brings attention (and with it, resources and protection) to our natural places is a good thing, so I won't complain.
posted by ilikemefi at 8:45 PM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Mile... Mile & a Half" is the answer that hikers give when you ask 'How far from here to there?'

Don't they just show you on a screen these days? "As you can see, Google says it's exactly 6600 feet from here. A mile and a quarter."
posted by pracowity at 3:21 AM on July 22, 2015

This is available on Netflix streaming.
posted by LoveHam at 4:10 AM on July 22, 2015

I really enjoyed this film. I thought it would be hard to tollerate in a "unprepared people doing tough stuff", or "I can't stand watching normal people do boring things" kinda way, but it was a pleasant surprise. I found the girl from Japan's participation very touching.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:52 AM on July 22, 2015

I enjoyed this film immensely.

The JMT was a central part of my stomping grounds for nearly thirty years. In all that time, I reckon I was able to cover only about 80% of the places I wanted to go. My last few years in the back country was at the bottom end of their trip, in Kings Canyon.

In many ways the trail has change very little since I last was there, in the mid-1990's. I have to say I was disappointed that these guys didn't show more of the area after Muir Pass. Grouse Meadow, for example, the perfect layover camp. You can stand in the middle of the meadow near a meandering stream full of brookies, and do a 360 to view living rock that rises 2k feet on both sides.

I could go on for pages. One morning on Seldon Pass I witnessed the calving of a dozen tons of granite, exfoliating, falling a hundred feet: Ice expansion, sounded like cannon fire, snapping the granite like dry wood. In many places the tracks of ancient glaciers have left grooves in a rock face the size of a small town, looked like fingers dragging across soft clay.

Leaving the trailhead for the first trip of every season I was flushed a palpable feeling of joy, and a renewed sense of why anyone would want to endure the bother required to reach the backcountry. What I mean is, memory is a pale compensation. All aspects of the Pacific Crest Trail are worthy pursuits for anybody wanting the experience. But the Central Sierra between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney are the cream of the cream.

It's not unusual for hikers to bunch up for a while. But the hard core among them tend to want to regain their solitude--the reason for the hike. I have spent a month at a time without ever seeing another human. (This defines my personal snowflake, I mean to cast no aspersions on those who like to carry tunes or check emails.) The mountain is more than impressive, it's imposing, and newly acclimated hikers are often intimidated. I was impressed and pleased when the fellow who dropped out rejoined the party at the Muir Ranch. I hope he got enough sand back into his bucket to make other trips.
posted by mule98J at 10:22 AM on July 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Add me to the list of people who enjoyed this film. I didn't expect to appreciate the John Muir quotes that pop up throughout as much as I did.

I did expect to (and did) appreciate the (limited) griping about Forester Pass, a beautiful spot I was happy to put behind me on a Mount Whitney trip (in at Onion Valley, out Whitney Portal) a few years ago.

If you are interested in further tracing the steps of John Muir, there's also the 310 mile Muir Ramble Route from San Francisco to Yosemite.
posted by memento maury at 12:22 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

But the Central Sierra between Yosemite and Mt. Whitney are the cream of the cream.

Little Lakes Valley (Rock Creek) -- map and images.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:29 PM on July 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

mule98j, your encyclopedic knowledge prods a question.

Respectfully, are you an actual mule ?
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 12:57 PM on July 23, 2015

Respectfully, are you an actual mule ?

I used to be. Then, one morning I awoke realizing I was actually an old fart with bad knees.
posted by mule98J at 12:01 PM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

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