one man's journey to the john muir trail

for the kids of WildLink, for their future, and for ours...

I am not extraordinary, my story is all too common.  Recently divorced, sixty-three and wondering what comes next.  However, over the last eighteen months I have come to realize that I am being called to a personal retreat.  Not just another long backpacking trip, something I have done numerous times in my life, but to accomplish something larger.  Yes, I personally need to listen to the quiet majesty of the Sierras, experience their healing powers that I know all too well as I begin the last phase of my life. But when I conceived of this journey I always knew it had to be about more than an aging, slightly broken man walking into the woods.  That would not be enough, and as I considered my motivation I realized that I have an opportunity to have an impact on others, people I will probably never know or meet.

Waiting for me is The John Muir Trail, called by some "America's Greatest Trail."  The "JMT," as it is known in the backpacking community, stretches more than two hundred miles over some of the most dramatic, remote and highest parts of the Sierra Nevada of California.  Beginning in Yosemite National Park it traverses almost a dozen high mountain passes, wanders by countless ice cold mountain lakes, numerous sparkling streams and rushing rivers before ending on the rocky and barren summit of Mt. Whitney, at an elevation of 14,505 feet, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

I am asking individuals and organizations to sponsor my long walk to benefit WildLink (, an innovative partnership between NatureBridge and Yosemite National Park, whose programmatic goal is "sharing the wonder of wild places" with young people who normally would not be exposed to National Parks or wilderness.

For over 40 years, NatureBridge ( has connected students to the outdoors through environmental science programming in the world's most magnificent classrooms–our national parks. Exposure to these places inspires a sense of wonder and awe that strengthens students' compassion toward the natural world and instills a desire to better understand its intricacies. As a program of NatureBridge—and in partnership with the National Park Service in Yosemite—WildLink ( transforms underserved teens through a series of wilderness and community based outdoor programs offered at no charge. WildLink inspires youth to become long-term environmental stewards with strong connections to the natural world in both the wilderness and their home communities.

My journey will be approximately 225 miles in length - I invite you to aid the WildLink kids by donating any specific amount or a specific amount per mile by clicking the link below.  I am doing this journey alone, 25 days on the trail, beginning August 18th, emerging from woods below the summit of Mt. Whitney on September 11th. But I do not have to be totally alone, you can participate by making a pledge or a donation, then follow my trek online and become part of the adventure!  Make a difference for the kids of WildLink, their future and ours!


  • 10 cents/mile ($22.50)
  • 25 cents/mile ($56.25)
  • 50 cents/mile ($112.50)
  • $1/mile ($225)

© 2015 James McGregor Gibson

Just A Long Walk © 2015 James McGregor Gibson