Following Water for 60 Miles on the North Lake to South Lake Trail

Every summer, I do a backcountry Sierra trip that’s at least 60 or 100 miles. Last year I did a loop in Mineral King. Most of the time I go solo, but this year I talked my friend Manny into coming along. We decided on the North Lake to South Lake Loop, a trail that begins at a small lake just above Lake Sabrina, links up with the John Muir Trail, and ends at the Bishop Pass Trailhead.

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Baxter Pass to Sixty Lakes Basin Loop

I reached Baxter Pass by 1pm. It was like being on the surface of Mars, with its vast, desolate red landscape. It was quite beautiful. The vastness of it all gave me that strangely comforting feeling of being insignificant. I lingered at the summit a little longer than I typically do, just to take in the stark beauty before heading down toward Baxter Lake.

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55-mile Solo from Mineral King to Nine Lakes Basin

By 11:40am the sky had turned dark and I felt the first drop of rain on my head. Contrary to the weather report, my instincts told me to turn around and get lower, so I headed back to the lake where I thought I’d wait it out for a while. When the first thunder came, it was close and powerful, followed by more of the same. Now my instincts told me to run, so I did. As I did, nickel-size hail rained down in almost biblical fashion.

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My 85-Mile Sequoia-Kings Canyon Loop Solo

Ever since hiking the John Muir Trail last year, I’d been thinking about getting back out there. But I didn’t want to just do the John Muir Trail again. Then I ran across something called the Big Sequoia-Kings Canyon Loop. There are a number of versions of this loop, the longest one being about 150 miles. I decided on the 85-mile version. I did this one solo and I had a blast.

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At 50, Hiking the John Muir Trail Was my Midlife Marker

When I got back from my trip, someone asked me if the trip was life-changing or not. Without hesitation, I replied, “Absolutely. It was totally life-changing.” At 47, I had just started getting in shape. I was hiking a lot in the local Southern California mountains and pushing outside of my comfort zone as much as possible. As I looked forward to turning 50, I felt like doing a solo on the iconic 220-mile long John Muir Trail would be a perfect adventure. It was. And this is the story of my adventure.

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6 Days and 80 miles on the High Sierra Trail

For many, the 220-mile long John Muir Trail, which runs north to south across the Sierra Nevada, represents the quintessential backcountry hike. While this trail was on our radar, we thought the High Sierra Trail would be a good way to ease into the behemoth JMT. The shorter, 72-mile High Sierra Trail runs west to east across the Sierras and can be done in six to ten days.

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Trekking Solo in the Jennie Lakes Wilderness

My parents used to take us to Weaver Lake when I was a kid. In fact, every year we’d camp at Stoney Creek Campground in Sequoia and often make the hike up to the lake. I love the area for its sheer beauty – and there is no permit required for overnight hikes. You just get yourself there and you’re on the trail without all the red tape of a big trip.

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