The John Muir Trail has a lot of stuff on it that is intimidating, difficult, or is just overall scary.
You have to carry a bear canister in the High Sierras for good reason – there are lots of active bears in the area. Though Yellowstone, which actually has grizzlies, doesn’t require a bear canister, you never know what you’re going to run into in the Sierras. The odds of actually seeing a bear, though, are really slim if you practice good food storage. In addition, I know how to handle a bear if approached – yell at the bear in a monotone voice/bang pots and pans while slowly backing away from the bear. Face the bear while you do this. If attacked by a brown bear, fight back.
2. Being Slow
Though Andrew and I usually cover ground pretty quickly (2 or 3 miles per hour during our trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, which is pretty darn fast for hiking), the actual walking portion of the day will take up a lot more of our time on the JMT. If you say you can hike 2 miles an hour in easy sections and as slowly as a mile per hour in difficult sections, you’re looking at about 6-8 hours of hiking a day to get in the 10-11 miles we’ll need to get in daily. That’s a lot of time on your feet. I hope to combat this through lots of practice and 10-12 mile hikes before hitting the trail.
Oh boy. I don’t like heights. See that image at the top? That’s the only way to access Half Dome. Half Dome is the giant dome shaped hunk of granite in the middle of the picture below.
Though the views are supposed to be amazing, I’m worried that I’d wind up stuck on the cables going up or down, or wouldn’t be able to enjoy the view from the top. This is a side trip we may or may not take, but there’s plenty of mountain passes on the trail that are close to that nerve wracking.
4. Bad Weather
Bad weather is the worst. There’s nothing I hate more than being somewhere beautiful and I can’t see it because it’s wet and all I can think about is being dry, it’s hot and all I can think about is cooling off, or it’s freezing and all I can think about is warming up. In the Sierras, it also has the added bonus of being really dangerous to get stuck in weather above the treeline. Yay?
5. Not Getting a Permit
The only thing worse than the four things above? Not being able to go at all. If for some reason we aren’t able to get a permit, we’ll do the 90+ mile Wonderland Trail, but it wouldn’t be the same. If there’s wildfires or too many people apply for permits, we may have to cancel our trip. And let’s face it – this is going to be the trip of a lifetime. I’d hate to miss out, and even postponing a year feels like a cop out.