In the Footsteps of John Muir

February 27, 2017
John Muir Nature Trail to Mt. Wanda
Roundtrip distance: 3.09 miles

It has been a dream of mine to hike the John Muir Trail, a long-distance trek from Yosemite National Park to Mt. Whitney.  I have watched YouTube videos about it and read all I can: blogs, trip reports, books, even maps.  I have day-hiked portions of the trail, but have yet to walk anything longer than 20 miles of the 211-mile route.

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Joseph and Monster

With that dream in mind, Joseph and I walked the John Muir Nature Trail one clear winter morning.  Not the same as the JMT.

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Monster loved the walk.

The nature trail is located two miles from the historic home of John Muir in the rolling foothills of Martinez, California.

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We walked a loop route under lacy branches of leafless oaks.  Though the day was warm and sunny, recent rains left shady sections slick with mud.  In springtime, the hills will be filled with colorful wildflowers.

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Leaving the loop trail, we wandered up Mt. Wanda.  From there we had a 360-degree view that included seeing Mt. Diablo, the Alhambra Valley, the Carquinez Strait and the Benicia bridge.

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At the top of Mt. Wanda.

John Muir often walked these parts with his daughters Helen and Wanda—Mt. Wanda’s namesake, and over a century ago wrote of his walk, “Another lovely day, mostly solid sunshine.  Took a fine fragrant walk…the babies delighted.” 

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Mt. Diablo from the trail.

We hiked up and down the verdant hillsides in—what could have been—the footsteps of John Muir.  The 700 foot incline was simple compared to the grueling elevation changes of the JMT (from 4,000 feet to 14,000 feet).

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We passed benches and picnic tables along the route, each with a great view.  If we had thought about it, we could have brought a sack lunch.  Or like Muir, thrown down a blanket on the lush grass and eaten a piece of hard bread with a cup of sugary tea.

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Enjoying the sunshine near the top of a ridge.

It’s fun to dream about hiking the famous JMT with its stunning scenery of crystal clear lakes, backcountry meadows and high mountain passes.  What an epic experience that would be.  Nonetheless, my walk with Joseph along John Muir’s Nature Trail was indeed a lovely day in which to delight.