Re: [John Muir Trail] itinerary challenge for the group (I don't know the answer)
- Sounds a bit like the Tahoe Yosemite Trail. Some of it follows the PCT but it veers away for parts. I don't like the part where when meeting highway 108 the trail follows the road 10 miles to the Kennedy Meadows Resort though. It crosses Highway 4 at Lake Alpine where there is a resort. Last time I heard they were accepting packages. Kennedy Meadow used to but I was looking at their site recently and there was no mention. Still, I'd call them and see. They just rebuilt after a fire a few years ago. At highway 50 you could always get a ride into South Lake Tahoe. The TYT starts at Meeks Bay at Lake Tahoe. It joins the PCT after about 10 miles. The PCT also cross the old highway at Donner Pass and I think the Alpine Skills International is nearby. I've stayed in their bunk rooms in the winter.
Parts of this trail are cross country but not difficult. There is a big 3000 ft climb with little shade or water when crossing the Mokulmne River southbound. I'm not sure about the condition of this trail, or if the Forest Service even wants to maintain it. If you call them don't be surprised if they mention how it isn't an official trail. The only reason the trail exist is because someone wrote a book on it. If interested I have more info on this trail here.
- I've gone west from Reds a couple times. Last time was in the early 90's. The trail heading north to Hemlock Crossing hadn't been maintained in awhile but was easy to follow even though it looked like few people used it. From Hemlock Crossing you climb up and meet a creek. When the trail heads more south I kept following the creek west till it headed north. Then I followed the compass due west till I hit the trail up to Isberg Pass. Its an easy cross country route. You only need a compass because you're in the trees most of the way. You might see some cows in the area.