After arriving in Yosemite and setting up my tent in the backpackers campground, it is time for a first walk.
My permit requires me to start tomorrow at Glacier Point high above the Yosemite Valley. That say I would miss the first miles of the official John Muir Trail route acsending from Happy Isles to Nevada Fall.
That being not really a big problem and having hiked those first miles already in 1995 (as if I had known it back then…) I’m having a complete afternoon at hand – so a short warm-up hike is the logical thing to do.
From the backpackers campground I walk over to Happy Isles, the official starting point of the JMT. I find it a bit shocking that first mile of the trail (up to the bridge crossing the Merced River) is paved.
But that’s probably due to the fact that Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall make such a nice hike: up via the JMT and down on the Mist Trail. Lots of day hikers are doing the round trip. I’m not going to be alone here, but I didn’t expect solitude in the beginning of the trail anyway.
Of course I need to take a picture with the sign saying Mount Whitney via John Muir Trail 211 – miles / 340 km. It does sounds impressive. 🙂
Wow, so this is it! After all those months of planning here I am. This trail will now be my home for about the next three weeks.
The JMT bypasses the lower Vernal Fall and heads directly for Nevada Fall, after a climb of 600 meters (2000 feet) I reach the impressive waterfall. Since California had a dry winter it has significantly less water than what I remember from my visit in 1995. Back then there was no swimming in the river above the fall, people would have been swept over the edge immediately.
After a break I leave the John Muir Trail for today and start descinding via the Mist Trail. It is slightly more difficult (steeper and sometimes narrower) but still no big deal.
At Emerald Pool I’m tempted to stick my feet into the water or even have a swim, but I guess there will be plenty of opportunities on the trail in less crowded places, so I continue down to Vernal Fall.
After reaching Happy Isles again I take the shuttle bus to the Yosemite Grill and have a burger – the last food I’ll be able to buy until Tuolumne Meadows…
Back at the campsite Kevin (the Belgian guy with whom I’ll start at Glacier Point tomorrow) and I have a nice chat with our „tent-neighbours“ Nick and Shenan, a father-and-daughter team who plan to finish the JMT in 25 days. Very likely we’ll meet them tomorrow again at the campsite at Little Yosemite Valley.
Distance hiked on JMT: 3.6 mi / 5.8 km
Distance hiked off JMT: 4.4 mi / 7.1 km
Elevation gained: 2000 feet / 600 meters
Time spent hiking (including breaks): 4:05 h
Map of Day 1 (red = JMT, blue = other trails)
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