02 February 2015

The next adventure... on the John Muir Trail!

I'm going to hike the John Muir Trail!!

I got approval to take the time off work, I have the incredibly generous support of my awesome best friend, Brett, I have a very cool little team to do it with... and we just received our official permit reservation!

John Muir Trail
Where we'll be walking
(image from www.hikejmt.com)
The John Muir Trail (JMT) is a 211 mile long hiking trail in California that'll take us into some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. We're going to start at the north end at Happy Isles in Yosemite National park on July 8th, 2015 and if all goes as planned, we'll finish at the top of the contiguous United States' highest peak--Mount Whitney (14,496 ft)--about 30 days later.

The idea came to us in a dream a documentary that's now well known among JMT hikers (and that's probably significantly increased the popularity of the trail) called Mile, Mile and a Half(it's on Netflix. Go watch it!) Last summer a few of my fellow bike adventurers and I spent an evening watching it (per the serendipitous suggestion of Jenny and Greg)... our host church for the evening encouraged us to use the projector in the youth room... and the seed was planted.  So, since we came up with the plan in church it was definitely divine intervention and we couldn't possibly not do it (never mind that we were basically living at churches for 2.5 months last summer....).

Really though, it's pretty amazing how these things seem to just work themselves out sometimes.  

After watching the documentary, my best-biking-buddy, Leah, asked if I'd want to hike it with her (I think she decided she was going to do it about 12 seconds into the documentary :-) ).  I said something along the lines of "Of course! But I have no idea if I'll be able to". I had no idea where life was going to take me after we moved back to Ohio.  I was probably supposed to get an engineering job and try to do normal, responsible things... but instead I decided to take more time to try to figure out what I'm really meant to do with my life and on a whim I got a job at a local outdoor gear shop to just buy time. Before I knew it, I had an employer who actually encourages crazy adventures, I had access to really good deals on the gear I'll need, and I (of course) had the most supportive friends and family.

Brett and I made sure to take some pictures of
the John Muir Trail signs during our trip to
Yosemite last summer so we could share them
with Leah... never suspecting I'd actually
be able to join her :-).
Then there's the fact that we actually received a permit.  To get a permit to hike the JMT starting at the north end of the trail you have to apply to Yosemite National Park exactly 24 weeks before your planned departure date. Yosemite has set quotas for the number of people who can enter any given trail head--something like 12 or 4 or 16 people can start at a certain point each day. Leading up to the day we chose to apply we were all reading stories of people trying up to seven times before having their application was actually approved (each time pushing their trip back another day).  With our group of 6 people we thought our chances were even lower.  Each of us separately faxed a permit application for our team of six on the evening of January 20th hoping to increase our odds... knowing that in all likelihood we'd be repeating the process an unknown number of days into the future. Of course, the next morning I got a call from Leah, who I think was in such disbelief that she questioned her literacy as she opened the email she received saying "This confirms your reservation, made on 01/21/2015, for a wilderness permit for the following trip..."

There are definitely still times that I worry that I should be working a job that earns more money after spending the last two years volunteering, or that I can and should be contributing more to society, saving more for retirement, saving the world, etc. But then I remember that I'll never regret an adventure like this--I certainly haven't yet!
Every adventure is training for the next... here we are training for the John Muir Trail!
Me and Leah... so excited for another adventure!

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