Macro & Micro Planning

Macro & Micro Planning refers to structuring the long-term aspects of your trip, such as when and where to resupply as well as breaking down each day into distance goals and locating possible camp sites. Currently, the following tool is specific to the John Muir Trail.

Using your ETD and your average daily miles, you can begin to plan your days along the trail. Remember to keep the initial ETD and additional days for side trips separate. For example, John’s initial ETD is 19 days and he plans two additional days for short side trips and fishing. So while his total ETD is 21, he will only be hiking and covering distance on the JMT for 19 days. Consequently, he calculates his average daily miles based on the 19. Covering 222 miles in 19 days means: 222miles / 19days = 12miles/day.


Using Elevation Profiles

Using the elevation profiles that are included in the book, you can begin your macro and micro planning. In our example, John would make a mark every 12 miles to approximate where to camp. Then, to account for the terrain and possibly strenuous or easy stretches, he would adjust each mark by +/- 2 miles to find a level camp spot (avoiding peaks, passes, and basins; seeking to have inclines early in the mornings). Be careful not to consistently adjust all marks in one direction, especially not towards the end.

MMP Elevation Map

Take a look at the three dotted circles which mark approx. 12-mile intervals in the above elevation profile. At the first marker, three things come to mind:

  • The entire day section is a steep up-hill and since it is the first day, your carrying weight will be at its maximum. The average 12 miles may be stretching it today.
  • The 12 mile mark is set exactly on a peak or ridge. This will most likely not be a good place to set up camp.
  • Just past the peak is a somewhat narrow basin. This is usually a place where cold air and moisture collect over night.

Consequently, it might be a good idea to start looking for campsites early, before reaching the 12 mile daily goal. This way, you have a steep incline early the next morning and can make up for some distance lost along downhill sections.

For further information on the macro & micro planning process and for the exclusive elevation profiles, please see Plan & Go | The John Muir Trail.