Movie Review: Mile…Mile and a Half

Backpacking / Outdoor Adventure (Unique lifestyle/travel/personal experience)

 The 211 miles of the John Muir Trail pass through the crown jewels of America’s park system: Sequoia, John Muir and Ansel Adams Wildernesses, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks. While California is known for its mild climate, the John Muir Trail doesn’t follow suit. In 2011, areas of the trail received 200% snowpack which makes a difficult trail strenuous with extremely high water crossings and miles of snowfields.

That July, five artists came together to spend 25 days with cameras in hand to capture the beauty of the trail. They weren’t exactly sure what they would have in the end, but it was the creation of the full length documentary Mile… Mile and a Half.

The process of capturing the breathtaking scenery is a crucial piece of the film. The movie is actually multimedia art. Throughout the video portion of the film, John Muir quotes and poems are recited. Stunning still images make their mark without interrupting the flow of the movie. Journaling, music, and paintings also have a role in the film. Every detail from the scene selection to the transition of each day is full of life and vibrancy. The spirit and character of each person involved shines.

“You keep thinking you’ve seen the most beautiful thing and the next day comes and you see something even more beautiful”     

                                                                                                                                                                                        -Ric Serena


Image of Tents & Stars - 16x24 canvas print

Photo credit: The Muir Project

It could be the route taken, perspective of the hikers, or pure luck, but each scene is even more beautiful than the last. As a hiker, this film makes me want to fly out to California, strap on my pack and just soak in the beauty of the John Muir Trail.

Mile… Mile and a Half is so inspiring because it has such a human quality to it. The narration feels more like a friend telling you about their experience rather than a run down of facts and figures.  I would have liked more of a feeling of being in the present and on the trail with them.

The humor, sarcastic remarks, and incredible joy shared between each hiker is what really makes this film. The crew perfectly demonstrates the finer points in what we call “butt sledding” on the East Coast. They also note that bear canisters are not just for bears and why deodorant or style is not a factor on the trail.

Keep an eye out for a screening near you!

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

Allison Nadler

Allison is a passionate (or mildly obsessive) hiker who enjoys spending her free time in the White Mountains. In 2012 she hiked New Hampshire's 48 4000-foot peaks and isn't stopping there. Allison's biggest accomplishment so far has been a one day solo presidential traverse. You can see all her adventures at