John Muir Trail 2012 Video

I want to dance the tango with chance and I want to ride on the wind, because nothing gets done with dust in your gun and nobody respects a liar, so good-bye for a while and off to explore every boundary and every door…ya I’m going North.
~from “Going North” by Missy Higgins

Created all on my iPhone using iPhone pics, videos, and the magic iPhone App iMovie.

August 5 – Half Dome at Sunrise

20120805-105016.jpgAbove Half Dome Junction, up Half Dome, and out to Yosemite Valley
9 miles

My face hurts from smiling all day. It was that good!

As I started up the trail by headlamp to Half Dome, it occurred to me, crap I am going to be climbing the cables in the dark. Half Dome’s famous 400 feet of cable system up the rock face is steep, requires upper and lower body strength, and the courage to depend on the wire cables to keep you alive. That is when my smile started.

Just as I reached the bottom of the cables a group of friendly college students from San Francisco hiked up. I was thankful. Someone would be there if something happened. I quickly selected a pair of gloves left for climbers at the foot of the cables. I used thick leather garden gloves that worked well. Tip: take all rings off BEFORE you climb. I didn’t. I then started the ascent in the dark and the only one on the cables. It was a once in a lifetime experience. Years ago I climbed during the day along with many other people on the cables. I felt it was chaos.

The trip up required a lot of arm strength due to the rock made slick by years of hiker use. This took me aback. I now realize it was hard because I could go as fast as I wanted and I did. It was fun. I even turned my headlamp off and let the moonlight lead my way. I reached the top in time to explore, eat, drink, and relax before the show began. And boy did it.

After basking in sensory overload, I descended the cables solo and quickly. It was likened to a zip line at kid’s camp. That is the best I can describe the feeling. Since I was heading off the trail today, I could not think of a better way to finish this journey.

I decided to take the Mist Trail down to Yosemite Valley, largely because it is steep, narrow, and crowded. This year due to drought conditions the Mist on the Mist Trail is non-existent. As I descended, crowds of vacationers filled the trail all smelling of delicious lotions, soap, and hair products reminding me of my dirty state. I smiled. I earned it.

As I reached the bridge at Vernal Falls crossing, I was welcomed with the best sight ever, Dan, my husband crossing the bridge. BIGGER SMILE.

We spent the rest of the day riding the Yosemite Shuttle, sight seeing, eating, walking in the rain, taking more photos, enjoying the delight of people visiting the park, and of course finishing with the day with the sunset from Glacier Point.

Thank you everyone for following and cheering me along this summer through changes, challenges, and exhilaration. It has been a growing and learning time. Just think…it is now time not only to go back to work, but also to get planning the next adventure. EVEN BIGGER SMILE!

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Sunrise on Half Dome

Diving Board on Half Dome

Diving Board on Half Dome

Heading Down the Cables

Heading Down the Cables

Going back up for Fun

Going back up for Fun

Half Dome Cables

Half Dome Cables

Nevada Falls

Nevada Falls

Half Dome from Valley Floor

Half Dome from Valley Floor

El Capitian

El Capitian

Glacier Point

Glacier Point

Sunset at Glacier Point

Sunset at Glacier Point

August 4 – Clouds Rest

20120805-092546.jpgTuolumne Meadows to 1/2 mile north of junction to Half Dome
23.1 miles

This trek through the Sierras has spurred a personal transformation of sorts. I like to think of myself as a person that lives just outside the box. Although I often stay inside for too long and a long challenging backpack is like a reboot to my soul. Pretty fantastic. BUT this trip I have purposely challenged myself everyday to do something that is even further out of my comfort zone.

The route I traveled today was not a direct route, but passed by Sunrise Lakes and the off the back route of Clouds Rest.  Taking that route I had to haul a full pack to the top of Clouds Rest. I scored big time. Sunrise Lakes are little jewels teeming with fish and clean cold water. I took a long swim in the afternoon to cool off from the heat. Clouds quickly formed in the afternoon making the sky dramatic and moody.

Clouds Rest is a peak in Yosemite that stands tall directly behind Half Dome with 360 degree unsurpassed views. A couple of years ago I climbed it with my family. Read about that day trip here. The trail to the top is gentle and the summit block has interesting rocks to climb. My trip to the top today was uplifting and stunning due to the passing clouds that continued to form by the minute. The route off the front of the peak to a must do. I loved the views, gentle descent, and packed trail. Camp tonight is staged 1/2 mile north of the intersection of the John Muir Trail and Half Dome Junction. The plan is to start hiking at 4:00 am to climb the 2.5 miles up Half Dome by moonlight and headlamp to experience  sunrise on Half Dome. How cool is that?

Early Morning Light on Small Dome

Early Morning Light on Small Dome

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Lake and Peak

Cathedral Lake and Peak

First View of Clouds Rest

First View of Clouds Rest

Hiking up Knife Ridge to Cloud's Rest Summit

Hiking up Knife Ridge to Cloud’s Rest Summit

Top of Clouds Rest Overlooking Half Dome

Top of Clouds Rest Overlooking Half Dome

South View

South View

East View

East View

View from Trail Down to Half Dome Junction

View from Trail Down to Half Dome Junction

Route Down the Front Side of Clouds Rest Facing Half Dome

Route Down the Front Side of Clouds Rest Facing Half Dome

August 3 – Zero in Tuolumne

Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.
~Dr. Seuss

One of the dreams I have to end this trip proper is to climb Clouds Rest and Half Dome on the way down to Yosemite Valley. I needed a special permit from the park to climb Half Dome. A couple of years ago the park service began a quota system that limits the amount of hikers on the Half Dome cables. It is a great thing.

I waited in line at the ranger station for a couple of hours. The rangers were super helpful and friendly. I got my permit for tomorrow. I am thankful it worked out. After getting my permit I hung out at the river soaking and more soaking and watched the sun set over the meadows. It was a relaxing day and I am excited to climb Clouds Rest tomorrow.

I spent most of my day here at the Tuolumne River

I spent most of my day here at the Tuolumne River

August 2 – Yosemite!

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…”
~C.S. Lewis

High Trail above Agnew Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows
22.5 miles

Ansel Adams Wilderness is a land of running water, beautiful lakes, dramatic mountains, and gentle terrain. With each step toward Tuolumne Meadows there is something new to discover and stand amazed.

I decided to hike the remaining miles into Tuolumne Meadows (big day), camp in the backpackers camping area, and try to get a permit to climb Half Dome and finish my hike in Yosemite Valley. What I didn’t anticipate was the extreme downhill from Donahue Pass! It is a knee and leg killer. Also the steps are really close together and slick from years of use. I slipped twice right on my …..

After the dramatic descent the trail is flat for miles and follows the Tuolumne River through meadows teamed with deer, snakes (I almost stepped on three) and fish. I made good time and got to the campground about 6:30 pm. There were no sites available. I walked around until Steven, a very nice young man with a big, dark beard offered to share his site. Sweet! I was able to get to the Tuolumne Meadows Store before it closed and wolfed down an apple, chips, and a Toll House Ice Cream Cookie. It turns out Steven was a wealth of information that I sure needed about getting permits, technology, and buses.

I finished the night with a campfire presentation on global warming, fossil fuels, and what can be done. It was geared for kids, interactive, and interesting. It made me really start thinking. I would like to volunteer someday and be that presenter. I am pretty excited about the prospects.

Early Morning Approach to Thousand Island Lake

Early Morning Approach to Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Thousand Island Lake

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Grouse??

Grouse??

Celebrating Last Crossing of Major Pass - Donahoe Pass

Celebrating Last Crossing of Major Pass – Donahoe Pass

Mount Lyell - I want to climb it!

Mount Lyell – I want to climb it!

Lembert Dome - Tuolumne Meadows

Lembert Dome – Tuolumne Meadows

August 1 – The Perfect View

When your heart speaks, take good notes.
~Judith Campbell

Duck Pass Trail Junction to High Trail above Shadow Lake
15.7 walking miles
8 bus miles

I don’t even know how to begin about today…

I cruised the 10 miles into Red Meadow to enjoy a very lengthy lunch (3 hours). On the way I ran into Conner who is hiking the JMT with his dad and grandpa. They have planned for a whole year. It was heart warming meeting the trio. Back to lunch. Not only did it take a while to eat my BLT, chips, salsa, coffee, and pie, but I enjoyed visiting with Lifeboat and Magnet. They were at Reds to meet Lifeboat’s parents that will be there in a couple of days.

Everyone was so friendly and positive at the cafe. I loved the atmosphere. It also helped that I was able to contact family and friends. I decided to take the bus to the High Trail where the PCT and JMT split for a few miles. Turns out that is one of the better ideas I have had.

Within a few minutes after hitting the trail I talked to a cowboy that was leading pack horses. He was super friendly and tipped me on to the campsite I am at right now overlooking Mammoth Mountain, the Minarets, Banner, and Ritter. Super awesome! I recommend the High Trail. It is gorgeous with views, aspens, many springs, and thick lush vegetation. The only drawback is it is used by pack animals that have made the trail a fine dusty dirt., The sunset tonight was quite enjoyable and serene. I loved today.

Morning Light

Morning Light

Blow Downs from the Roots

Blow Downs from the Roots

Clearing of the Trees

Clearing of the Trees

Old Burn and Blow Downs

Old Burn and Blow Downs

Conner - JMTer

Conner – JMTer

Very Helper Packer

Very Helper Packer

Shadow Lake

Shadow Lake

Sunset Over Mount Banner and Ritter

Sunset Over Mount Banner and Ritter

Mammoth Mountain at Sunset

Mammoth Mountain at Sunset

Campsite

Campsite

July 31 – Up and Down I Go

Keep your head up, keep your heart strong, keep your mind-set in your way, keep your heart strong.
-from Keep Your Head Up by Ben Howard

VVR trail junction to Duck’s Lake junction
17 miles

If you were to ask me to describe the trail of the JMT, I would have to say STEEP. You are either going straight up or down. Depending on how many of those you have in a day dictates how exhausted you are in the evening. Today I had 2 ups and 2 downs in the 17 miles I walked. Essentially it is like climbing 2 full on peaks. I am entering into the Mammoth area and tomorrow I will resupply at the Red’s Meadow Store.

This morning on the way up Silver Pass I met a group ladies that are also hiking north. They are part of an adventure group “Call of the Wild”. Quite of few of the hikers were over 60 years old. Now that is very encouraging! After Silver Pass the route passes by many lakes including one of my favorites in the Sierras, Squaw Lake.

Last fall this area had a severe wind storm that blew down thousands of trees. Many organizations have been responsible for an amazing job of clearing the trees from the trail. It seems that the biggest trees fell right from the root, leaving surrounding smaller trees untouched. It is an experience just walking through.

My campsite is sitting on a rock ledge and coyotes are howling in the background.

Morning Light on the Trail

Morning Light on the Trail

North Fork

North Fork

Location of Silver Creek Waterfall Crossing in June 2011

Location of Silver Creek Waterfall Crossing in June 2011

Call of the Wild Adventure Group

Call of the Wild Adventure Group

Silver Pass Lake

Silver Pass Lake

Silver Pass Looking North

Silver Pass Looking North

Cool Trail Sign

Cool Trail Sign

Squaw Lake

Squaw Lake

Tully Hole

Tully Hole

Trail above Purple Lake

Trail above Purple Lake

Llamas on the Trail - Personal Sherpas!

Llamas on the Trail – Personal Sherpas!

Llama Partners

Llama Partners

July 30 – Nero at VVR

Bright as a Full Moon
-Eat, Sleep, Hike blog

Scott and Aedan at VVR

Scott and Aedan at VVR

My Ride

My Ride

This morning I had breakfast with 2 cool young gentleman, Scott and Aedhan. Cool partly because they let me eat with them, but mostly because they have just graduated from high school, live back east, and are doing the JMT. That is impressive. It takes a lot of planning and direction to pull it off. They are both super smart, friendly, respectful, and are both going to prestigious universities. It has been quiet here at the resort, so I stayed the day and even snarfed down a bag of chips and a Dr. Pepper and I do not feel guilty. I am planning on hiking back to the trail this evening, which is 5 miles around the lake and find a great camp spot and call it a day. I just nabbed a VERY speedy ride back to the trail head from a very helpful employee of VVR! Thanks for following along.

July 29 – Service and VVR

A man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9

Blayney Hot Springs to Vermillion Valley Resort
23.5 miles

The photos today are from my iPhone because my battery in my camera died and my spare battery is an off brand and kept turning off. Lesson learned, do not buy off brand batteries if you are really going to need them. For this trip I have transferred photos via my new Airstash. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the little thing!

On the way up to Selden Pass a gentleman asked me if I got information from the JMT Forums. Turns out he is one of the big advocates of the JMT, JMT Forum Host, a big researcher, gear enthusiast, and he is an expert at prolio therapy for joints. Not really sure of the exact name, but you can reach Turtle online at the JMT Forums. We of course hit it off exchanging on trail technology. Way fun.

The top of Selden Pass has a magnificent view of Marie Lakes. It is an icon and is featured in many magazines. What I would like to know is who was this Marie? And what she did she do to have such an awesome group of lakes named after her? At the pass I met Lifeboat and Magnet, a very cute and refreshing young couple soon to be married. Turns out Lifeboat proposed to Magnet on the top of Forester Pass. How romantic is that? Lifeboat’s parents were even hiking with them for a section. It was such a treat to meet these folks.

The trail then follows Bear Creek which has many swimming opportunities which I took advantage of. The trail then climbs one of my favorite ridges filled with Aspens, wildflowers, springs galore, and sports stunning views of mountains to the south. Oh on top of that I had 4 bars of cell service, so I was able to post the past few days of journals. I even updated my Track Me page that can be accessed from the top menu.

I made an assumption that the trail to VVR was about 4 miles. At 5:00 when I got to the cut off sign it said EIGHT! I then booked it to get to VVR just in time for the chef to cook the last dinner at 8:00! The most delicious red snapper and a boat load of veggies. The day was long, but very rewarding. I am hoping to take a nero tomorrow at VVR washing clothes, showering, eating, resting, and resupplying. So great.

Turtle and his Hiking Partner

Turtle and his Hiking Partner

Sally Keyes Lake

Sally Keyes Lake

Seldon Pass

Seldon Pass

Magnet and Lifeboat on Seldon Pass

Magnet and Lifeboat on Seldon Pass

Bear Creek Crossing

Bear Creek Crossing