Backpacking over Donahue Pass on the John Muir Trail

Inspiring videos: Backpacking the John Muir Trail

A year ago I was training for an epic adventure: Backpacking the northernmost approximately 60 miles of the John Muir Trail. It was a 6-day backpack with epic elevation gain (we climbed from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows in a mere 2 days, not to mention hiking over Donahue Pass). And it was an experience of a lifetime.

As I’m getting ready now for a far less demanding 3-day 18-miler in Yosemite‘s backcountry, I’ve been thinking back to how I motivated for that last trip. The reality is, while it wasn’t easy, it took a combo of physical and mental strength to do it. And building up that mental strength for me was as much about being genuinely excited for the adventure I was about to set out on as it was about knowing I was physically ready.

My best mental training tool: Internet videos.

Seeing others who had done what I was planning to do, seeing the absolutely gorgeous, seemingly untouched nature and watching it all go by with an inspiring soundtrack was just what I needed to get me stoked for doing something I had never done before.

So with that, here are a few of my favorite John Muir Trail inspirational videos past and present for others thinking of hitting the Sierra backcountry with your life on your back.

The video that made me agree to the trip

Before saying yes to my friend James Temple (@jtemple) who had gotten the permit, I was doing some soul searching online to answer the question of “can I really do this?” It was this video that made me say, “I don’t know but I’m sure as hell gonna try.”

At the same time I was watching that, I also watched this much longer 21-minute video from MotionTV that was more of a how to on a portion of the trail we’d be doing, albeit headed in the opposite direction from our planned route.

The video from our trip

James, a great photographer in his own right, made a time-lapse video of our trip that I hope offers others similar inspiration. You can also read his blog post about the trip, which appeared on’s Bad Latitude travel blog.

The video that hopes to inspire millions

This current Kickstarter project takes that video inspiration one step further. They are trying to inspire from the big screen, not just the computer screen, raising money to produce a full-length film on backpacking the entire John Muir Trail.

Here’s the trailer for the movie:

MILE… MILE & A HALF (trailer 1) from The Muir Project on Vimeo.

Learn more about The Muir Project and give on Kickstarter if you want to help make it happen.

What video clips have inspired you to head outdoors? Tell us in the comments!