Described as a “wilderness path in our backyard”, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), goes through 57 major mountain passes, dips into 19 major canyons and meanders alongside more than 1,000 lakes and tarns. For those who don’t have the months – or stamina – needed to walk the entire route, it is broken into sections for shorter, multi-night treks and within those sections are plenty of options for day hikes along the national trail. One of my favourites of these is the seven-mile High Trail with its views of the jagged peaks of the Minarets and other summits of the Ritter Range in California. The river flowing through the polished glacial rock below is dramatic, but it’s the void between the high mountains and low valley that makes onlookers feel small.

“Everything is flowing,” the naturalist John Muir wrote of the region, “going somewhere, animals and so-called lifeless rocks as well as water.”

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