There is no more significant turning point in a young person’s life than when they discover they can do something they were absolutely sure they could not do. A perfect example: thru-hiking the John Muir Trail. For that reason, I’d like to turn over the blog this week to Daniel Fogel of JMTAdventures.com, an outfit which provides a unique summer camp for teens.
The 211 miles of the John Muir Trail provide some of the most stunning scenery the United States has to offer. But ask anyone who has thru hiked the JMT, and they’ll tell you that they gained a lot more from their experience than a few pretty pictures of Half Dome and Mt. Whitney.
Thru hikes are as much a mental journey as they are a physical one. Living outdoors for two to three weeks is eye opening; it is the antithesis of the fast pace of modern day city life. Thru hiking is total freedom. There is no schedule, no calendar reminders, no appointments. You hike when you want to hike, you eat when you’re hungry, and you break whenever a particular scene strikes your fancy. It is the ultimate embrace of the present: time is no factor, and all that matters is the current moment.
Writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and John Muir himself waxed poetic about the solace that nature provides.
“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude,” wrote Thoreau.
The Yosemite section of the JMT is a zoo of tourists, but soon enough, you will discover the great companion Thoreau describes. The solitude of the trail offers an opportunity for self-reflection and discovery. And yet, somehow, JMT thru hikers also form a friendly and supportive social community. Through facing and overcoming adversity together, the trail builds friendships formed in days that can last a lifetime.
Hiking 211 miles builds character as well as friendships, and completing the JMT requires incredible resilience. By the time you summit Mt. Whitney, you will have the mindset that through perseverance and hard work, you can and will overcome any obstacle.
The adventure doesn’t end at Whitney Portal—the JMT fosters a love for the outdoors that will last well beyond the trail. And once you believe that you can overcome any challenge in your literal and metaphorical path, the whole world is at your fingertip