This is interesting: The Fresno Bee is sending four pairs of writers & photographers out on the John Muir Trail, whose southern terminus is down in the general direction of Fresno. How come?

The trail, a north-south footpath completed in 1938, opened the High Sierra to the public.

Now the high country faces issues of crowding. The trail has been rerouted several times because portions were worn out by thousands of hiking boots and hooves. The trashing of Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet the highest peak in the contiguous United States, led to strict permit limits for parts of the trail.

So the paper and its people want to see for themselves what’s happening along the JMT these days. One of the writers is going along despite an innate disinclination toward sleeping on the ground; she talks about how the originator of this scheme, another writer named Mark Grossi, talked her into it:

Once we teamed up, I got excited about the mythology and lore and international pull of the trail. Together we concocted an idea about different reporters writing about different segments of a JMT quest.

The day we realized that the The Bee would go for the project was the day I remembered that I don’t backpack. Don’t really want to go backpacking. I remembered that I really like hot showers and cold gin and tonics, and that I’m afraid of matches, and that mosquitoes pick on me.

My definitive unsuitability hit Grossi about that time, too.

Every day he looked at me with grave eyes, shaking his head and saying, “Marcum, I’m really worried you don’t understand what you’re getting into.”

I’d readily agreed and suggested we find someone else.

He grew genuinely alarmed.

“Oh, no. You have to do this,” he’d say. “If you don’t, you’ll HATE YOURSELF FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.”

So, OK, I’m in.

Then she muses on the possibility of putting Coke machines every 20 miles along the trail.