Particularly as the Conservancy invests in a broad-based wilderness restoration program and improves site-planning and facilities at trailheads, we believe improved public education must be supported to assure our work endures. There are three facets to this effort: to better prepare and guide people who move through this fragile wilderness; to lay out the compounding effects of a changing climate; and to reacquaint people with the rich history associated with the creation and construction of this magnificent trail, America’s first and oldest.
To start, every person should know what to expect and how to lessen their impact on the wilderness. A hiker who is well prepared for high-elevation rugged travel will have a safer and more enjoyable experience. Everyone should train to a good fitness level, acclimate to high-elevation demands, and pack light and with appropriate gear, food and first aide. Each person should know the best practices for campsite selection, food, water and waste management, and trail protocols, so they leave no trace and lessen their impact on the terrain.
As part of this, we will educate people on the damage they cause by ignoring these “best practices” and introduce the compounding effects of rising temperatures and more extreme weather caused by climate change. We will all need to adapt the way we connect to nature in order to better manage these effects.
Finally, this history of the John Muir Trail itself is one worth re-telling, bringing it back to public awareness. Created by state law in 1915, this is the oldest recreational hiking trail in American history, 50 years older than the Appalachian Trail. Its exploration and construction was at the center of the national movement in the late-19th and early-20th centuries to conserve wilderness in national parks, forests and trails. The trail was named to honor John Muir and his “inestimable service in making known to the world the wonders of the mountains of California.” There is much more to research and recover in the museums and archives of California.
We are pursuing strategies on all fronts. Please donate to support our efforts.
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