Moon’s Senior Cartographer Kat Bennett, her husband Landis, and their friends Chris and Jim are on a three-week backpacking trek to explore the John Muir Trail. Kat is providing us with periodic trail updates so we can follow along on the journey.


Things were crazy Friday and Saturday. We stayed up ’til 11:30 packing the bags and decanting the first week food into Ziploc bags. We were supposed to be on the road by 7:00am…we were delayed until 8:20. One of our pack mates had transmission problems that finally got sorted by 1:00 in the afternoon.

Wilderness permit

Wilderness permit acquired! Photo © Kat Bennett.

Landis and I picked up our group permit at the Mono Lake Visitor’s Center. He dropped me off in Lee Vining where I met up with Jim.

Landis had to head to Onion Valley to drop the car for his exit at Kearsarge. That’s where he met our friend Don Bain who offered to car ferry him back to our start point at Silver Lake.

That evening Don made us gin & tonics and we grilled sausages. The wind kicked up and we moved into Don’s camper truck for shelter. We had more gin & tonics. That night Jim slept in the bed of his truck and we pitched a tent in about 40mph winds. Our tent did great and we saw a ton of stars, but we couldn’t sleep from the gusting noise!

Reserved trek starting point

Moon Muir Trek: Day 1 Starting Point

Chris joined us the next morning and we got on the trail by 9:10am. With full packs it was a bit of a slog. We decided to take a shortcut rather than go to Waugh Lake as intended; the wind was still bad and we’d heard it might be best to stay just below Thousand Island lake as others’ tents had been flattened.

With the last bit of cell service from Silver Lake, we got a weather report that the wind might die down. We decided to chance mosquitoes and get to Thousand Island Lake to camp. We pitched tents, ate food, and went to bed exhausted with the aid of Advil PM.

thousand island lake

Thousand Island Lake: a spectacular view and well worth the first day trudge. Photo © Kat Bennett.


Get a detailed look at the full itinerary on our Moon Muir Trek page.