Movie review: Mile…Mile & A Half (2013)

This documentary of a group of people hiking the John Muir Trail in California is a visual feast. After eight months of planning, they set off from Yosemite in July 2011 and headed south. Twenty-five days later they successfully completed the trail by climbing Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous US. The trail is two hundred eleven miles that climbs up to 14,000 feet.

Not only did the group bring all of their camping gear and food (they were resupplied with food four or five times during the hike), but they also brought video, photography, and audio equipment to record the trip and the beauty that they encountered. The scenes were breathtaking. They started out in redwoods but quickly found themselves hiking through snow. In July. Apparently this particular year there was twice the normal amount of snow in the Sierras, which made crossing rivers a bit more challenging.

During the trip the band of five encountered numerous hikers, two of which joined them for most of the hike along the trail and three others that joined their band within a few days of completing the trail. One of the new companions conceded that California had beauty and splendor that surpassed even his home state of Colorado. (California does have some amazing vistas.)

I visited Yosemite once and drove through it another time to reach the Sierras on another trip. But I have never hiked any part of the John Muir Trail. I sat up a little straighter when they hiked through another place on the trail that I have been too, but I have never heard of other people visiting: Devil’s Postpile.

I cannot imagine hiking the trail in its entirety. I enjoyed hiking the mountains in California, but to hike for ten or eleven hour days day after day up to 14,000 feet in elevation is a bit intense. Thankfully, like me, you can watch Mile…Mile & A Half to see the views from the trail and experience the trail vicariously. And without the mosquitoes.


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