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70 Mile Backpacking Journey

By May 3, 2017 October 19th, 2017 No Comments
Thousand Island Lake

Starting a new journey is quite a unique experience. Even though we live in a world where the trek is all but travelled before you even step foot on the trail, there still is this feeling not easily described. Adventure, exploration, unknown… Maybe a few of you reading this have felt it. It’s kind of like hearing your favorite song for the first time; a fascination develops for this feeling, and you want to get back to that moment as often as you can. Or, maybe that’s just me.

John Muir Trail – Jonathan Knepper

At any rate, I sat with two friends, waiting on another, to start this new journey in my life. Reds Meadow sits within the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and is part of the famous John Muir Trail. At 211 miles long stretching from Mt. Whitney to well-known beauty Yosemite National Park. This path takes backpackers through some of the most incredible places on this planet. Three out of the four of us were jumping in on the last 70+ miles with our friends’ who were trekking the entire thing.

Minaret Pinnacles – Jonathan Knepper

As I would need about 10 more of these posts to fully dive into this excursion’s stories and sights, I’ll get going. Our first stop after day 1 was off the beaten path of the trail, at a lake at the base of the Minaret Pinnacles – spired looking peaks that towered over the body of water. 9 miles was more than I was prepared for on this first day, but it was well worth it when we found our camping site. I sat down and marveled at the beauty that was surrounding us. That night we enjoyed our time with one of the few fires on the trip, laughing, sharing stories, and relaxing.

Ediza Lake – Jonathan Knepper

Ediza Lake was the second night and the morning sun that woke us was warm, bright, and comforting in the chilled air that had sunk in overnight. For a few precious moments the lake was still, so I sat in the warmth taking it all in before our journey ahead.

While I cannot go through the entire trip stop by stop,  these are a few highlights of the trip…

If I had to pick one spot where I would’ve wanted to spent more time just exploring the surrounding area, Thousand Island Lake would be top of the list. Named for it’s many tiny land masses in the gathering of water at the base of Banner Peak, the towering mountain in the backdrop. That evening I knew the chance to capture the starry-night would be among the best of the trail, so I set up just outside our tent and waited for dark.. What a reward.

Thousand Island Lake – Jonathan Knepper

Much of the trail that followed became gradually busier and less spectacular. As you close in on Yosemite National Park it becomes miles after up-and-down miles to cover the distance to get there. But for us, we had another detour for the end of this incredible journey: Clouds Rest. The view from the top, which stands 1100′ higher than the famous Half Dome peak, gives unique views few make it to see. By this day, our second to last, I finally felt like I belonged out there as keeping up with my friends was hard work the entire week. I bounded down the final peak and near sprinted up to the top of Clouds Rest, looking forward to the experience I had been thinking of for so long.

Clouds Rest – Jonathan Knepper

Spectacular. We gazed on the valley with Half Dome as it’s center point for hours, as the sunset became ever more incredible with the passing minutes.

While I could keep talking about sleeping under the stars for less than 4 hours and the pitch-black climb up the dome to catch sunrise. I’d like to leave you now with this wonderful sight…

Clouds Rest – Looking over the Half Dome in Yosemite

If you ever have the chance to do a sliver, or the whole John Muir Trail, DO IT. I was told the section we missed is worth going back to, but the places we hit were at top of the list from the guy who had done the entire thing. At the end of the trip I was filled with that new-favorite song feeling once again, and ready to start planning my next adventure. Good luck out there my friends, can’t wait to see what your next experience!

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Jonathan Knepper

Author Jonathan Knepper

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