Just hold on to the cables and follow the red and white blazes

Two weeks of hut-to-hut hiking through the Slovenian Alps. We climbed 10K meters (descended same) in just 150 kms. The “trails” here are forthright and a day’s accomplishment is measured in elevation gained/lost, not forward progress made. We climbed thrilling sections protected by cables and pegs, shared the high plains along the Austrian border with herds of sheep and explored WWI ruins in the rugged Soca front near Italy.

There were more wildflowers than I’ve ever seen and an equal number of bugs, although no mosquitoes. I became an expert at spotting wild strawberries and collected all I could. …

The notion of a misogi practice is brilliantly simple. Design an exercise challenge so audacious that you’re not even sure you can complete it, search your circle of friends for the few that might “get it”, then come together towards the end of the year and try your damnedest to finish whatever it is you’ve set out to do.

You’re asking, “Um yeah, but why?”

Indeed. Why?

Misogi (禊, mee-so-gee) is a borrowed term in our context. In Shinto Japanese it refers to a ritual of purification of the body and mind. While the traditional practice itself is not specific…

A fantastic stretch of the John Muir Trail in Upper Basin

On the morning of my thirteen day I was eager to get back on trail. I’d spent two days resupplying and enjoying the conveniences of the front country in Bishop, CA, the cultural capital of the Eastern Sierra. My previous six day hiking section had taken me here from Mammoth, CA. All packed up and with that last egg burrito, danish, and large coffee onboard, I headed off to the post office for my final errand of mailing off my bounce box. It was right then and there that I was struck by a lightning bolt of trail magic.


The varied geology and grand views of the Mammoth Crest

Two days in a Mammoth hostel felt like a life sentence. Don’t get me wrong, having a comfy bunk, a hot shower, some real meals, and WIFI to contact friends and loved ones was great but I just couldn’t wait to get back on the trail!

Prior to my arrival in Mammoth I’d completed a six day segment from Yosemite with a friend but from here on I’d be solo. I was up at 6am on the morning of day seven eager to jump on the trail but a post office errand and a laughable series of incorrect bus stops…

Lake Catherine at 11K’ with Banner Peak and Mount Ritter in the background [Photo: K. Mathews]

With my permitted entry trailhead closed by a persistent wildfire that had the entire Yosemite Valley shut down for three weeks and my intended hiking start date fast approaching, I wasn’t at all certain what my hike this year would look like, or if I’d even be able to get on the trail. With the news that firefighters had made good progress in containing the Ferguson Fire and with a tentative reopening date for Yosemite Valley, I decided to go for it and gamble that I’d be able to get a walk up permit and that everything would work out.

Mount Everest from Gokyo Ri (5,365M)

Day 1 — Kathmandu -> Monjo (2,835M)

We were up at 4:15am, a rare peaceful hour in Kathmandu. Our bag dropped, the bill paid, and checked out of our hotel, my girlfriend “Mo” and I were in a taxi by 4:45am. The airport was chaotic and it was stressful having to be continually aggressive with every thought or action - how we stood in line, our positioning to block people trying to cut in, constantly harassing airport staff about our status, etc. Yes, we had tickets but that guarantees little on an oversold, frequently cancelled flight to the high mountains. Eventually we’d made it to the plane…

Mount Ritter and Banner Peak

Considering a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail? Before you can enjoy those carefree summer days wandering through the Sierras you’ll need to invest a good chunk of time and effort planning your hike. Here’s an overview of the things you should think about thinking about.


By far the most challenging part of thru-hiking the JMT is securing a permit. The numbers are staggering. Annual permit requests have more than doubled in recent years and 97% of requests are denied. Getting a permit starting from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley has become the backpacking equivalent of winning the Powerball Lottery…

Ranger Meadow in Deadman Canyon Looking up Toward Elizabeth Pass

Years back I formed the opinion while on a thru hike of the John Muir Trail that the Sequoia/Kings Canyon area is perhaps the best section of the Sierra Nevada range. Of course an opinion like this is largely personal but the SEKI area seems to be blessed with all the requisite ingredients for alpine adventure: rugged, undulating granite, grand vistas, the range’s largest concentration of high peaks, bountiful lakes and streams, and best of all relative solitude for those willing to tuck into the lesser traveled corners of the park.

With that as inspiration I spent the winter studying…

Tim Axall

Vagabond, Bean Counter, Adventurer and Occasional Writer.

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