Two girls - hikers, yogis, climbers, photographers, writers, activists and believers in the greatness of humanity. They feel that in uncertain and frenetic times like these the best thing they can do is to connect deeper to themselves, to each other, and to the world around them – to listen more, love more, share more.
As they set out on the John Muir Trail for three weeks of exploration, physical challenge and friendship, they hope to embody the California spirit of adventure, to exude its ethos of preservation, creativity and determination, and to do it in their own kind of way.
While they wander the peaks and valleys of the Sierras, taking in and experiencing external landscapes, they hope to embolden and encourage others to engage with and care for their shared Earth’s precious spaces that are life-giving and soul-nourishing. And as they practice hiking, yoga, climb, swim, meditate and reflect, they hope to show ways to care for our inner landscapes - to find stillness, resilience, freedom and consciousness within.
Justyna is from Poland. She is a freelance photographer and a yoga teacher, having run yoga programs in Switzerland, Germany, Portugal and Sweden. She believes yoga can heal not only our bodies, but also emotions and our relationships. Through her travels, she finds beauty in the simplicity of daily life in a foreign culture. In turn, she shares her passion for yoga, introducing it to varied groups of people in need, from cancer survivors to female inmates. She loves outdoor life, being on the road, climbing the mountains and challenges that make her face her fears and limitations. She’s the happiest when in nature.
Erica is a California girl – a maker, a thinker, and a social justice activist. Her primary medium is her body, as she uses it to experience and love the world around her. Through her work teaching yoga, particularly to incarcerated and marginalized teenage girls in the Bay Area, she encourages others to find an embodied sense of peace & possibility, too. She has written a trauma-informed yoga & creative arts curriculum and supports other teachers on their path of yoga service. Her spirit soars when she’s exploring hillsides, traversing rock walls, or diving in oceans.
Justyna and Erica met in India where they were both studying yoga “at the source” with their teacher Sharath Jois. It was immediately clear that they share the same values – integrity, honesty, curiosity, creativity, faithfulness, and love. And that they share many of the same passions – yoga, nature, friendship, community, health, movement, service and sustainability. It was clear their paths were destined to intertwine. In their lives, and on this journey they explore what it means to be connected, conscious, fully awake and alive humans.
The John Muir Trail runs through Yosemite National Park, Inyo and Sierra national forests (including the John Muir Wilderness and Ansel Adams Wilderness), passing through Devils Postpile National Monument, Kings Canyon National Park, and ending on Mount Whitney in Sequoia National Park.
The Trail begins in Happy Isles, Yosemite Valley and ends at the summit of Mt. Whitney making the total of 210.4 miles. However, in order to reach a trailhead road, it is an additional 10.6 miles from the summit of Mt. Whitney to Whitney Portal making the total 221 miles. Most of the Trail lies above 8,000 feet in designated wilderness and it took 46 years to complete construction. The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) shares the John Muir Trail through its over 200 miles. Good Lateral trails on both the east and west sides of the range make the John Muir Trail accessible the length of the trail. However, the trail is not bisected by any trans-Sierra roads and this is the longest stretch of wilderness in the continental United States. The Forest Service and Park Service still use mule strings to carry in supplies, tools and provisions to maintain and repair this amazing trail.
Forester Pass, completed in 1932, is a most spectacular pass and engineering marvel, providing a direct crossing of the high precipitous Kings-Kern Divide. This is the highest pass, at 13, 156 feet along the trail.
The “Golden Staircase” (many steep switchbacks) sits on a cliff below Palisade Lake and nearby Mather Pass. The Mather Pass trail was cut into granite and was the last pass constructed. It was named for Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service and was completed in 1938.
The trail passes many lakes, creeks and also hot springs. Just to name few: Sunrise Lake, Tenaya Lake, Lower Cathedral Lake, Lake Virginia, Purple Lake, Chief Lake.
There are several resupply points on the trail: Tuolumne Meadows, Reds Meadow, Vermillion Valley Resort, Muir Trail Ranch. However, hikers need to carry all the gear and clothing, and amount of food for at least 5-6 days.