America, Countries, UK

A trail of two John Muirs

Ours is 134 miles and on the level and one I trod daily, theirs is 214 miles and uphill… well everything is bigger in America.

I don’t know how much my morning mile round trip to my Co-Op for my groceries would prepare me for the Sierras.

On a pedestal: John Muir statue in Dunbar

But I have gone the ‘wrong way’ to the start on a 12-mile John Muir trail walk to his hometown of Dunbar in the east of Scotland.

Where you can see all things Muir at his museum.

Glass act: The John Muir Birthplace, Dunbar

Now you could fit five and a half Scotlands into California so they have the space all right.

And despite our image of California being big cities Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento.

And the coastal delights of Santa Monica and Venice Beach which give the richest state in the union its Sunshine State moniker.

Grizzlies and growlers

A couple of old beardies: Me and Muir

It also has a bear motif on its crest which is a nod to its Great Outdoors.

Adopted American Muir had his own experiences with bears, first encountering a grizzly eye to eye in 1868 while hiding behind a tree.

Now despite our shared lineage as Jock Tamson’s bairns (that’s Scots to the rest of you) Muir was a Lion Rampant and I’m more of a Meek Lamb.

Heartbreak hound hotel: No, it’s the Desolation

And that’s why I like to keep any bears at a distance and I’m assured they don’t stay at the Desolation Hotel, despite the name.

But dogs are at the now open hotel in South Lake Tahoe, a two-drive east of Sacramento.

Like much else in America’s wildernesses Desolation Hotel is inspired by preservationist Muir’s principles.

Muir the merrier

Gym and tonic: All mod cons

The hotel is comprised of just 21 suites.

Each with al fresco soaking tubs on private balconies.

And in-room fireplaces, and kitchenettes.

You’re within walking distance to South Lake Tahoe’s best experiences, including a private beach along Lake Tahoe.

There are skiing, hiking, and mountain biking trails; family snow play and sledding areas.

Apartments of the interior: The Desolation

And that’s not all with a Peloton-outfitted fitness centre, saltwater pool, jacuzzi, and Port Orford Cedar sauna.

If all that exercise makes you hungry Velma’s has seasonal cocktails and small bites poolside.

Ride on: John Muir

And Maggie’s restaurant and bar offers near 360-degree views of the nearby mountains and towering pine trees from its third-story location.

Pining for the trails

Tree-course meal: Maggie’s

And this is the really cool thing… the outdoor deck of Maggie’s restaurant around an existing pine tree to avoid downing the native growth.

For now until I can get out to Desolation Hotel I’ll keep up the Scottish John Muir Trail training.

Well, the daily one-mile round trip to my Co-Op then.

It truly is a trail of two John Muirs.


America, Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage, UK

Easter Monday all the John Muir Way

And today’s the day when you walk it off which is why it’s Easter Monday all the John Muir Way.

The John Muir is a 134-mile walking route across Scotland from Helensburgh in the West…

To the Great Conservationist’s home town of Dunbar in the East.

And a 15-mile hike from my back yard of North Berwick, or six-hour saunter up hill and down vale.

A walk with a pal

Get ready: Before a Wicklow walk

All in the company of my old pal Wee Jon who has become one of life’s great Outdoorsmen in his old age.

Although he showed little indication that he had a Kilimanjaro ascent or London to Brighton cycle ride in him…

When he was jumping around barefoot like a flea on the burning sands of Manchester, New Hampshire back in the day.

And our post-University summer in Boston, Massachusetts.

Particularly with New England on my radar.

Memory Lane

Bray to go: The Scary One in Greystones with Bray Head in the background

A good brisk walk is, of course, for all ages and physicalities.

And it allows you the time and space to talk and reflect on shared experiences and your younger selves.

And so the seven-and-a-half miles, three-and-a-half hour trek, to the village of East Linton became a trip down Memory Lane.

We could just as well have been in our old stomping ground of Aberdeen where Wee Jon was known to spend a night on the grass island Mounthooly Roundabout.

Or London and Brighton where we variously enjoyed the bright lights of Leicester Square and Chinatown or hosted Spanish students down the pier.

Or on the Wicklow Way or Bray Head walk in Ireland’s Garden County.

And picked up by car by The Scary One. And today too.

Life’s journey

A different world: Tenerife

Whichever walk your taking today, and be sure you do one, take the time to think positively on your life’s journey until now.

It may be the twists and turns of a Camino, Via Francigena, Tenerife coastal walk.

Or across the mountains from the Austrian Tirol to Bavaria in Germany.

Or your favourite route from your home, either around your town or city or countryside.

But whichever it is putting one foot in front of the other is the first step in life’s great adventure.

And so for me it’s Easter Monday all the John Muir Way.