After years of planning, a filmmaker finally connected with five adventure-seeking high school students who were looking for a challenge. They were friends who were determined to add some change to their daily routine. These boys had been getting together for years to do something fun and crazy so they gladly accepted the offer to hike the John Muir Trail for a documentary. The John Muir Trail has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful trails in the world. It passes through the tallest mountain range in the contiguous United States.
As the small group follows the 220 mile trek in the wake of John Muir’s own footsteps, they face a number of difficulties which include getting lost, losing their food to bears, extreme exhaustion, and sickness.
By day four the boys are so beat they start regretting their decision because their bodies ache all over and they see no end in sight. On day five one of the hikers drops out and heads back home but not before encouraging the others to stick it out until the end.
Shelton Johnson, a park ranger that has called Yosemite home for close to 18 years, says that the word ‘spectacular’ is usually used as a hyperbole, except when it’s used to refer to this place. Calling Yosemite Valley ‘spectacular’ is an understatement. The Sierra Nevada has a feel to it that you don’t find in the Rockies or the Smoky Mountains and Johnson thinks that it stems from the granite rock itself, how it responds to light and how it affects and inflects the human imagination. John Muir referred to the Sierra as ‘The Range of Light’. The granite is what sets the stage for all the wonder that people experience as they are hiking up the trail.
According to Johnson, each mountain range has its own personality and to be able to get a full taste of the personality of the Sierra Nevada you have to walk the whole length of it.
When this small group of hikers finally makes it to the end, will it have been worthwhile?