Years ago, on my first thru-hike of the John Muir Trail, one of the many surprises was how many man-made objects were dispersed over the 211 miles. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not complaining. I didn’t find anything built along the trail that spoiled the feeling of being in the wilderness, it was just unexpected.
Runners up to the most famous of the man-made structures have to include the bridge over Woods Creek and the hut that sits atop Mount Whitney. The most famous is indisputable: the Muir Hut at the top of Muir Pass.
The hut was built in 1930 and dedicated two years later. As indicated on the plaque, the work was financed (all $5,810.48) by George Frederick Schwarz.
Anyone who has ever visited the hut has probably sat inside, looked up, and wondered why it has stayed together for over eighty years. The hut was designed by Henry H. Gutterson, a California architect who studied in Paris and was a prolific designer in the Bay Area, particularly in St. Francis Wood. He got the idea from the trullo huts of Italy.
Inside the hut is a fireplace, rendered unusable, and stone seating. (Back when the fireplace was operable, signs north and south of the pass, on the trail, encouraged hikers to gather some firewood and carry it to the hut to contribute to the cache of fuel.) On the hearth is also another plaque that reads:
This building was constructed in 1930 by the Sierra Club in
cooperation with the Sierra National Forest and
dedicated to the memory of John Muir.
The Muir Hut is intended as a temporary shelter for
hikers caught in storms on this exposed section of trail.
Overnight camping and fires are prohibited.
Good hiking, Ray