Last year I summited Mt. Whitney on Father’s Day and climbed up and over Forester Pass on my dad’s birthday. If I wasn’t already thinking about Dad, my encounters with three separate fathers-with-daughters hiking the JMT seemed to say “Hey Girl, who taught you to backpack? Way back, when your little legs were strong enough to carry only a sleeping bag and some snacks, who led the way into the Montana mountains in the summertime? That’s right, your pops.”
When I exited for resupply in Bishop, I wrote my dad a letter telling him that, before life gets in the way, we needed to go for a good long walk in the woods together. So we agreed to hike the John Muir Trail.
After scattered phone conversations and broken email chains, criss-crossing lists of gear and food and to-dos, today we walked side by side, weaving through the aisles of Costco, inspecting nutritional information and debating between granola bars (though I’ve learned that they’re all pretty bad after a while). Afterwards we heaped the food onto the dining room table to examine, divide and ziploc.
In some ways this hike will resemble the summer backpacks of my childhood. In most ways it will be very different. This time around, I hope to be more of the guide, to share a bit of what I’ve learned since then.
Remember that time that you hiked to meet me at the Northern Terminus? This is my thank you for that, and my thank you for engraining in me a love for the wild.
So, Backcountry Ninjas, the t-shirt company we’ve been developing along the road- from Montana to Texas to California to, as of tonight, Seattle- FINALLY has some GIRL STUFF.
We are now selling women’s athletic shirts, women’s cut-off t-shirts and PURPLE RAIN ADVENTURE SKIRTS, hand-made by our friend and fellow thru-hiker, Purple Rain, right out of Portland, OR.
As always, Backcountry Ninjas is devoted to the enjoyment and stewardship of nature and all it has to offer. For this reason we will always donate 7% of proceeds- 3% to each the Pacific Crest Trail Association and Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and 1% to a third, rotating charity, currently For Love Of Children.
We hope you are gearing up, wherever you are, for an awesome summer! Keep on rocking in the tree world!
We pull away from Missoula at -7°.
The long way, Hwy 278, stretches across the beautiful Big Hole Valley. The cold has turned Wisdom and Jackson into ghost towns. We see three moose and a herd of antelope. Otherwise it’s just us and the cows.
Three nights in Dillon with my aunt and uncle. Yellow fields, blue mountains, endless sky. A night in Bozeman with our friend Layla. The temp is up to 27°.
The highway takes us through Fromberg, MT. A few buildings, a glimpse of a postman and a police car, and we’re back up to 60mph. Scattered antelope, cottonwoods crowding the frozen creek beds, snow-shrouded hay bales. So many bales, sitting, waiting to be reintegrated.
Just past the Wyoming border, a four-point buck grazes on the side of the guard rail. We stop in Thermopolis, home of the world’s largest hot mineral springs. We soak at the bath house and drive through the bison viewing area. We see only their tracks amidst the red rocks emerging from the snow, and a rabbit.
We arrive in Lander just after dark.