Fantastic mountain scenery, high peaks, meadows, lakes and waterfalls, is a sure thing in the Sierras. Add to that a summer climate that almost guarantees good weather for an extended trip and you begin to understand John Muir's attachment to his "Range of Light." His namesake trail, 212 poetic miles from Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley, may well be the pre-eminent North American trek. Early August is the time to be there as snow melts off the high passes. Take advantage of the weather, and do the trip as Muir would: ultralight.
Permits from Inyo National Forest: (760) 876-6200, www.fs.fed.us/r5/inyo