Editor's Note: Last spring big-mountain snowboarding legend Jeremy Jones set out with two-time Olympian Elena Hight on an ambitious foot-powered expedition across California’s John Muir Wilderness. Jeremy documented the journey in a travel journal that recounts their nine-day mission. What follows is his entry from the day 3 of filming for Ode To Muir with photos and videos he captured along the way.
Long, hard days on the mountain calls for naps. Nick Kalisz photo. See the official trailer and tour dates for Ode To Muir at: tetongravity.com/odetomuir
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” - John Muir
The barrier is broken and I am officially off belay walking through mountains I have never seen before. My house is 147 miles away and everything I need for 9 days is on my back. Stripped down to the bare essentials; food, shelter, crampons, snowboard.
This particular valley is the tightest I have seen. Even if you tried to look in to it, you couldn’t –have tried from the two tallest peaks. Already, the little I see has me stopped in my tracks. Dumb luck has not brought me here but instead, the same methods used in other parts of the world; go for the thickest part of the range near big peaks. It is here the hidden gems generally subside. Obscured by the giants and out of the spotlight of the front country, they sit quietly and peacefully, enjoying their solitude.
Jeremy and Elena plan their next mission with Schnider. Nick Kalisz photo.
A few hours later we gain the distant pass. Schnider and I pause for a moment, as we approach the top. “Last chance to not know what is on the other side of this mountain,” I jokingly say. Our imagination is awarded one last crack at it, but mine doesn’t take the bait; “just take the steps, you know you cannot guess it – you gave up on that long ago.”
Surprise, surprise – more granite, more chutes, more towers, more ramps, and lots of more mountains for as far as the eye can see. The saddle sits no more than 40 feet across bookended by towering peaks on either side. We are shocked at the lack of wind and pause for 20 minutes to see if we caught a lull. 300 plus days a year this pass in inhospitable due to ferocious winds. We seize the opportunity and set up camp at 11,600. This was not part of the plan but we can’t pull ourselves from the pass. You take what you get, and today we get to have our cake and eat it too.
The sun does its dance once again, reds and yellows to the North, blues and purples to the South followed by the moon. 360 degrees of insanity for over an hour – every color of the rainbow in constant flow. Yet another monumental grand finale of a sunset. These are the kind of gradients dream of while painting.
The stunning views of the High Sierra from camp. Jeremy Jones photo.
I feel myself getting into the rhythm and flow of the land. This is the highest camp I have ever had in the Sierra. To my left is the ridge to the morning line, to my right the ridge for the evening line. I am smack dab in the middle of the mountains, and I am now going to sleep…
- Jeremy Jones
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4pm is right around the corner and you’ve been on the slopes since first chair, making turn after turn, lap after lap. You’ve had lunch and snacked along the way, fueling your adventure. Now, as you wrap up a day on the hill, your mind turns towards your plans for the night and the eventual hunger that will consume you. With the day you just put in it’s bound to happen. But you – clever you – you’re simply patting yourself on the back and smiling. You’ve done your research and are