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July 12, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 7 - Little Yosemite Valley to Happy Isles Bridge, Yosemite National Park

6.1 mi 

We left today at about 7am for a 6.1 mile trek to our final destination of Yosemite National Park! We started the hike heading straight into a fantastic view of Half Dome. The first part of this hike was extremely rocky and we passed about a dozen people making their way up the mountain to scale Half Dome. They must have left the park by 2am to make it this far. It's a hell of a hike up. We soon made our way to the top of Nevada Falls. This was a gorgeous and exquisite area. There are sharp granite peaks to your right sitting on a granite field with a river tumbling to a waterfall and the Yosemite Valley in the background. Most day hikers don't make it this far, but it is a site to behold. At this point we could've taken the Mist Trail down, but doing it with pack is a bit slippery and not recommended. We followed the main trail down into another massive amount of switchbacks until it met back up with the Mist Trail. At this point, you start to see a lot of tourists and the trail soon turns to pavement. We soon pasted the JMT 211 mile sign and found my brother and Caleb walking up the road. This prompted Amie and I to do our celebration dance! Yes... a video is available! 67.4 miles in 7 days with a day hike to Rainbow Falls of 5.3 miles. This was longer hike than Philmont when I was 15 and in 3 less days!

We hiked to Chris' rental car (I thought my hiking was over) and he took us to the Post Office for our packages (clean cloths and regular shoes!) and we proceeded to the showers. I dragged a chair into the showers and just sat under the hot water for at least 15 minutes before I started scrubbing 8 days of nastiness of my body. I finally felt human again. After a quick pizza for lunch, we dropped off Amie Happy Isle and started our road trip through Death Valley and onto Vegas to catch a plane back home! What an awesome trip!

July 11, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 6 - Sunrise High Sierra to Little Yosemite Valley

9.8 mi 

Today we broke camp about 6:30am and headed for Little Yosemite Valley camp site. Today was our last uphill climb of about 500 feet in elevation over about two miles. At the top was a beautiful view of Yosemite Valley. During our decent, we entered an area that a fire had decimated a few years ago. Most of the standing trees were dead but the ground vegetation had made a comeback. Especially the wild flowers. We stopped about noon for lunch. Thank god I had my sitting pad because otherwise my back would have been covered with black ash from the charred remains of the forest. After lunch we finally made it to green woods and got our first view of Half Dome. It would stay in our view for the end of our hike. Since we had dropped now to a much lower elevation, the temperature had increased and it became much hotter than the latter portion of our hike. After 9.8 miles we made it to Little Yosemite Valley campground. This campground was for permit holders only and as such, we were checked for our permits for the first time. This camp site had compost outhouses, a large river (the Merced river) and LOTS of flat camp sites. I'm sure they could easily fit over 3 dozen people here. I was exhausted and had to rest about 30 minutes before setting up my tent. We then swam in the river (or at least Amie did), rinsed out some clothes, filtered some water and drank the last package of my lemonade. I did a quick dinner and was so tired that I just laid back in my tent about 7pm in my shorts and no shirt. I woke up about 4am realizing that I never prepped for bed. Tomorrow is our last day and it is truly all downhill!

July 10, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 5 - Tuolumne to Sunrise High Sierra

10.5 mi 

Today I said goodbye to Chris and Caleb. We would meet him in three days in Yosemite National Park. It was not just Amie and I on our own. Our original destination I had plotted on our map was for an 8 mile hike to a camp. But just before the trip, I noticed that there was no water at that camp. We could hike short of the camp, or push a couple of miles farther. W elected to push 2.5 to Sunrise High Sierra Camp for a total of 10.5 miles today. The day started with a hike through the woods without a trail. We didn't want to backtrack a mile or two along established trails to get to the JMT. We figured we could just follow our GPS until we hit the JMT. It worked! Probably saved us at least an hour and a half. We assumed most of our uphill hiking was over with....but we soon found out that was not true. We ascended grueling rocky trail that would go straight up, then flatten for a while, then go up again. At the top was Cathedral Lake...actually there were two lakes. We had a decent view but were really too far from the lake for a breathtaking view because the trail was rerouted farther away to let the land re-cooperate. We could have made a short hike down to the lake, but our stomachs were aching for lunch and my feet weren't willing to take the hike down and back up again. After lunch, we made it past Cathedral Peak to a breathtaking meadow with a stream running through it. It would have been a great place to build a cabin! We ascended another mountain and were rewarded with a great view of the beginning of Yosemite Valley. We then descended down to another meadow and approached our campsite for the night....Sunrise High Sierra Camp. This was a bakcountry resort of sorts but was not going to be in service for a couple of days. :) It did have a water fountain of sorts and an outhouse!...although it smelled so bad it made me gag. We setup camp on a ridge overlooking the meadow. We had the most beautiful campsite I've ever had. After camp setup, I remembered I had a large lemonade pack and made Amie and I about 16 ounces each. Boy did that hit the spot!!! I woke up at 5am the next morning to a sunrise view like I've never had. About 30 minutes later a pack of coyotes woke up Amie with their morning kill. :) I also had a chance to wash/rinse out my clothes. I had not done that since day 1!

July 09, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 4 - Lyell Canyon to Tuolumne Meadows

10.6 mi 

Today was our reward for yesterday. It was an easy, sloping downhill hike to Tuolumne Meadows. It was supposed to be only 9 miles, but like most of the week, it ended up being longer...10.6 miles. About half-way down the trip Amie and I caught up with Chris and Caleb. Chris informed us of his foot problems... Plantar Fasciiltis. When it flares up, all you can do is stay off your feet. He decided to call off the rest of the hike for himself. I wanted be with my brother for the last couple of days, but Amie was majorly disappointed so I decided to finish the hike with her. We finished the 10.6 miles in record time averaging 2.6 miles per hour. Amie and I caught a ride with an older gentleman for the last 1.5 miles to the General store/Post Office/Burger Joint. I picked up my resupply from the Post Office and ordered a double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a glass of ice tea. Although the burger was great, the ice tea was what I craved for. I ended up drinking 7 glasses of it! We then plugged up our phones and batteries and headed to the campground to setup camp. They have a backpackers campground for only 6 bucks a day. This was a GREAT day and the hike through Lyell Canyon was beautiful along a slow moving river that followed us all the way to Tuolumne Meadows. You'll notice on the speed/elevation graph to the left the "hump" in speed when we got a ride.

July 08, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 3 - Thousand Island Lake to Lyell Canyon

11.5 mi 

Day 3 was our longest and hardest hike. We knew it was going to be tough and got out of camp at 5:45am to get a start on the day. We hade 11.5 miles to trek and ascend Donahue Pass at 11,100 feet. The morning sunrise on Mount Ritter was spectacular! The photo does not give it justice. We climbed a couple hundred feet over Island pass (not much of a pass) and descended into Rush Creek before tackling Donahue Pass. It was here where me met our heaviest infestation of mosquitoes. There were clouds of them and they were huge! I had to put on my head net when we stopped for water to ascend the pass. The climb to the pass wasn't that bad. It slowly ascended up to a series of beautiful meadows ending in a spectacular one at the foot of Donahue Pass where we ate lunch and filled our water bottles again. Going up to the meadow, I spotted a woman breast feeding an infant. She brought an infant up here! We were 35 miles from the nearest road! Some people just have shit for brains. The hike up to the pass wasn't that tough and the view back into the meadow/valley was breathtaking. Once on top, I got a cell signal and called my wife and brother via FaceTime. Very cool! At this point, we only had a 3.5 mile hike to camp and thought it would be a piece of cake. Boy were we wrong! That last 3.5 miles were over steep jagged rock with sometimes 1.5 foot steps. It continued and continued and continued. I also ran out of water about a mile from our campsite. I was going so slow Amie got frustrated with me. I finally got into camp and all I could do was just rest on the ground for about 45 minutes before setting up my tent. We had lot's of company at that camp site. There was also a very fast and COLD running river very close to camp. I then ate and went to bed. I slept like a rock!

July 07, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 2 - Gladys Lake to Thousand Islands Lake

9.4 mi 

One of the most beautiful hikes of the week. From Gladys Lake, you hike down and see Rosalie Lake, then hike down a LONG series of switchbacks to Shadow Lake. When I say long, I mean long.
There had to be around 40 switchbacks. Going the opposite direction would be a BITCH! Shadow Lake was absolutely beautiful. It's looks deep too. We stopped there for a while so Caleb could potty. I actually got a cell signal on Verizon there. We later passed a series of alpine lakes on our journey to Thousand Island Lake. Garnet was the most prominent of those lakes. We stopped for lunch there. Met a U.K. hiker with major blisters. He was heading for a series of rock trail switchbacks down to a small valley that we just hiked up. He was barefoot when we saw him because wearing his boots hurt too much. I patched him up with my Leukotape Tape and gave him half of my supply since I probably wouldn't need it. I have never had a blister while hiking. He was wearing jungle boots. We advised him to stop in Red Meadows and buy some real hiking boots. After lunch, we passed Altha, Ruby and Emerald Lakes on the way to Thousand Island. The approach to Thousand Island lake was not near as beautiful as when we walked around it the following day. That's where the beauty was. We also hiked around it at pre-dawn, which lit the surrounding mountains. We camped at an area just off the trail once you cross the bridge. The view was fantastic. We had a Marmot threatening to take our food for most of the night. He took heed to our rock throwing I guess because we didn't get a night visit. I would have liked to spend some time in a kayak exploring this lake.

July 06, 2018

2018 JMT DAY 1 - Red Meadows to Gladys Lake

9.5 mi 

1st day! We started the day hiking up to Red Meadows camp and got lost trying to find the way to the JMT. Only about 1/4 mile backtracking. Hike was pretty much uphill all day on sandy-like trail. Felt like we were hiking up sand dunes on a beach. At about the 4 mile mark, we had to ford a fairly deep stream. I went up stream to find a rock path across. I did find one but after about half way across, I felt like the risk was not worth the reward. I decided to go back to the original crossing and found that everybody had already crossed. Not much current but it was deep enough to reach the crotch area. It was also EXCRUCIATINGLY COLD! I had plastic camp shoes for just this purpose, but I thought it would be easy just going barefoot. WRONG! The rocks were tortuous on my feet and I almost lost my footing and fell over...which would have soaked my backpack, boots and clothes. We took a break for about 20 minutes while the mosquitoes feasted on us.
We went by several alpine lakes on the way. It was a tough 9.5 mile start for the first day. Got to the campsite and had to rest for about 45 minutes before I had the energy to pitch my tent. Washed out my clothes in Gladys lake. Lots of dragon flies on the lake. Not much of an appetite during dinner and went to bed early. Mosquitoes came out in herds when the sun started setting.