Exclusive First Look At John Muir Trail Documentary

A new documentary on the John Muir TrailThe John Muir Trail is the quintessential American hiking route. Located in California, the 211-mile-long trail runs from the summit of Mt. Whitney in the south to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley in the north. Along the way it passes through some of the most pristine and spectacular wilderness in all of North America, including Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks.

In July of last year, a group of five friends set out to hike the entire length of the trail, documenting the journey as they went. Their trek lasted 25 days and culminated on the 14,505-foot summit of Whitney, where they were joined by an interesting assortment of characters that they met along the way. That same group of backpackers is now preparing to release a documentary about the trail and their experiences on it. They call the 87-minute long film “Mile… Mile & A Half” and as you can tell from the trailer below it looks fantastic.

The filmmakers hope to put the finishing touches on the film in the weeks ahead and get it ready to be shown in adventure film festivals across the country. With that in mind the team has launched a Kickstarter page to help raise funds to complete their project. With a little over a month to go, they’re about halfway to their goal and could use a little help getting over the top.

Thanks to the entire Muir Project team for giving Gadling an exclusive first look at this trailer.


MILE… MILE & A HALF (trailer 2) from The Muir Project on Vimeo.

2012 Summit For Someone registration is now open

Summit For Someone offers great adventures while giving backBig City Mountaineers, the non-profit organization that provides urban youth with opportunities to build life skills through wilderness mentoring experiences, has announced that registration is now open for their 2012 Summit For Someone program. SFS gives adventurous travelers the opportunity to climb some of the world’s most iconic peaks, while raising funds to support the Big City Mountaineers program.

The process is simple. First, you select a mountain that you’d like to climb, such as Mt. Hood in Oregon or Mt. Whitney in California. Each of the mountains has a pledge value assigned to it ranging from $2400 for alpine rock climbs up to $8500 for a full blown mountaineering expedition. By signing up to climb a particular peak, you agree to raise the pledge amount for Big City Mountaineers. Once you’ve reached that goal, you’ll join a Summit For Someone climb on that mountain.

The SMS website has a full list of 2012 climbs which can be viewed here. Some of the mountains available include Grand Teton in Wyoming, Mt. Rainier in Washington, and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Difficulty levels range from beginner, meaning no mountaineering experience at all, to advanced, which is reserved for those who already have a variety of technical climbing skills. There are a number of intermediate options as well, offering something for everyone.

The beauty of the Summit For Someone program is that it gives travelers an opportunity to take part in a true mountain climb and a real adventure, while also raising funds to support a fantastic youth program. If you’re considering options for travel in 2012, perhaps an SMS trip would be the perfect opportunity for you.

[Photo credit: Walter Siegmund via WikiMedia]

7-year old climbs Mt. Whitney

Mt. Whitney was climbed by 7-year old Tyler ArmstrongWhen he returns to school in a couple of weeks, 7-year old Tyler Armstrong of Yorba Linda, California will have plenty to say when he’s asked “What did you do this summer?”

Tyler recently became the youngest person to climb Mt. Whitney in a single day when he and his father Kevin hiked to the summit in just 7 hours and 50 minutes. Standing 14,505 feet in height, Mt. Whitney is the tallest mountain in the continental United States, and while it isn’t a technical climb, its height still makes it a considerable challenge for many.

The father-son climbing team set out from Base Camp, located at 8500 feet, at 2:05 AM and reached the summit around 9:55 AM. They both recorded their times in the summit log, and enjoyed the view, before turning back down the mountain. The descent wasn’t much easier than the climb however, as the return trip required more than nine hours to complete.

Kevin says Tyler first became interested in climbing Whitney after hearing him talk about how he had hiked the mountain with his father when he was 11 years old. While that was a memorable experience for Kevin, he adds that it was one of the proudest moments of his life to stand on the summit with his own son.

With a successful climb now under his belt, Tyler is hoping to turn his attention to other mountains in the future. For now, he’s content to stay close to home and hone his skills on other California peaks. But he says in the future he’d like to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, which stands 19,340 feet in height. Eventually, he’d like to turn his attention on Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world at 29,029 feet.

[Photo credit: Geographer via WikiMedia]

12-year old climbs highest point in all 50 states in record time

12-year old Matt Moniz of Boulder, Colorado will have quite a tale to share with his friends when he returns to school this fall. While most kids his age spend the summer relaxing and doing as little work as possible, Matt, along with his father Mike, launched their 50 in 50 in 50 expedition. The plan was to reach the highest point in all 50 states, in 50 days or less, and on July 16th, they completed their quest, reaching the summit of the 13,796-foot tall Mauna Kea in Hawaii, setting a new record for completing the high points in the process. The previous record for the fastest time to reach the highest point in all 50 states was 45 day, 19 hours, and 2 minutes, set by climber Mike Haugen back in 2008. Matt and his dad completed that same feat in just 43 days, 2 hours, and 8 minutes.

America’s high points vary greatly in altitude, with some being quite easy to reach, while others involving true mountaineering skills. The lowest of the high points is Britton Hill, which is located in Florida and stands just 345 feet above sea level. The highest is of course Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, which is found in Alaska and stands 20,320 feet in height. Other peaks of note include Mt. Whitney, which is the highest point in California at 14,494 feet and Mt. Rainier, which stands at 14,411 feet and is the tallest mountain in the state of Washington.

Matt’s climbing resume is quickly becoming a very impressive one. Not only has he now completed the 50 high points, he has also climbed Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Elbrus, the highest peaks in Africa, South America, and Europe respectively. He has also made the trek to Everest Base Camp as well, and with the completion of Denali, he now has four of the Seven Summits under his belt. Not bad for a young man who hasn’t even entered junior high yet.

[Photo credit: Matt Moniz]

The world’s best hikes

With so much challenging terrain, magnificent vistas, and unique cultural opportunities on the planet, shining a spotlight on the world’s best hikes is a difficult task. After all, there are various styles of hiking fitting different skill levels: some people enjoy long treks, while others like to get in and out in a single day. Some folks enjoy challenging, technical climbs, while others simply like to stroll through nature and appreciate her beauty. What follows is a list of ten of the top hikes in the world, offering a blend of styles that has something for everyone.

Mt Whitney, California

A fortress of peaks stands to the west of the small California town of Lone Pine. Driving north from Los Angeles, the Sierra Nevada range slowly begins to rise from the Mojave Desert and tops out at 14,505 feet on Mt. Whitney‘s summit. As the highest peak in the lower 48, Mt Whitney gets quite a bit of traffic.

This overnight — or very long day hike — requires a permit. Permits are obtained through the forest service and are dolled out by lottery. If you are one of the lucky few to be granted access, you’ll enjoy some of the best high desert views in the states… and perhaps the world.


Salkantay Trek, Peru
The ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu have been stirring spirituality and emotion in visitors since Hiram Bingham rediscovered them in 1911. Most hikers take the standard Inca Trail to reach this stone fortress in the clouds. However, alternate routes are also an option and the Salkantay Trek tops the list.This version of the Inca Trail takes hikers over a 15,000 foot pass and through rural valleys where farming practices are conducted much the same way they were during the time of the Inca empire. The hike ends in the hamlet oft Aguas Calientes known for it’s hot springs. The final day is spent touring Machu Picchu.

Bonus: Huayna Pichhu is the peak seen in the typical tourist photo of Machu Picchu. It can be climbed within a few hours from the main archaeological site.

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Timberline Trail, Oregon
When three old college buddies wanted to meet up in Portland and hike the 41 miles circumnavigating Mount Hood, I did not hesitate. Starting out at the Timberline Lodge (the exterior was used in the classic film The Shining), the hike meanders through cool dark forests, across rushing rivers fed by snow melt, and over frozen snow patches.

Several other trails connect to get hikers onto the Timberline Trail. This makes section-hiking from Portland a perfect option for those who don’t want to overnight on the mountains slopes.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal
The expense for the flight and a guided trek in the Everest region may send many hikers into cardiac arrest. But world-class views of massive glaciers, yaks carrying equipment to Everest Base Camp, and quaint villages perched in an ancient landscape quickly make the money factor fade.

The dynamite photo opportunities are enough to keep a trekker’s mind spinning, but many return raving even more about their cultural experiences in this fascinating corner of the world.


Appalachian Trail, North Carolina
The Appalachian Trail is well-worn and easy to follow no matter where you hop on. But on the North Carolina section, good trail conditions aren’t the only thing hikers are treated to.

Beautiful grassy balds and rocking exposed summits provide spectacular views of the Smokies. Easy access from the East coast makes this area a prime day hike or overnight opportunity for many weekend warriors.

Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
A few years back, I set out to tackle the Umbwe Route up the western slopes of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. With proper conditioning, this is one of the seven summits that can be notched into the belt of most hikers — if altitude doesn’t wreak havoc on you first.

Trekking through five distinct climate zones is something truly special, as hikers watch their surroundings change each day from lush jungle all the way to glaciated summit.

Zion Narrows, Utah
Slot canyons are narrow gorges carved into the earth by thousands of years of erosion. They are also an awe inspiring place to walk and connect with one’s inner self. Utah’s Zion Narrows has over 16 miles of these slot canyons. The narrows is a perfect place to escape from the bustle of daily life, take in the breathtaking power of nature, and melt into a world of smooth sandstone and intriguing shadow.

Pro tip: Going when dry weather is in the forecast is a must. Many areas are inescapable if a flash flood were to show up.

Haute Route, France/Switzerland
Spending two weeks backpacking Europe after college, the High Alps was by far my favorite stop. The Alps are known for their snow-covered peaks and bright green pastured valleys. This part of Europe evokes visions of fine cheese and expensive watches for the average visitor.

But to hikers, the Haute Route is a life goal. This alpine hike can be done with a light pack by utilizing the hut system dotting the trail. Fine food and fantastic views combine to easily put this trail near the top of any list.

John Muir Trail, California
The John Muir Trail comprises a 223 mile section of the much longer Pacific Crest Trail. Scrambling over Half Dome in Yosemite and ending on the Mt Whitney trail (see above), an ambitious trekker with several weeks off work can bag two of these top 10 hikes in one session.

Camping alongside crystal clear alpine lakes while staring up at the Milky Way makes for the quintessential night in the mountains.

Cinque Terre, Italy
Hiking through vineyards and along sheer granite cliffs the Cinque Terre or “Five Lands” is a foodie’s dream.

Connected by a trail system along the northwest coast of Italy, these five quaint fishing villages allow hikers to walk the trails during the day and indulge with exquisite seafood and fabulous wine after dark. A train from Milan passes each hamlet and can drop visitors off to allow for a one-way hike.

Whether staying state-side or venturing out into the international hiking world, these destinations are a sure-fire way to rejuvenate any work-worn desk jockey, or get them pondering how to make hiking a career path.

Need more inspiration to get outside? Keep reading!