Wednesday, July 13, 2011

July 6, 2011

Completion of JMT!

Yosemite is a very cool place. It is also a very strange place, especially if you are a thru-hiker. First the cool parts...

Today we finished hiking the John Muir Trail, which stretches from the top of Mt Whitney to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. The last section, once we descended out of the snow this morning, was gorgeous. Big trees, large rocks, and spectacular views all around.

We hiked about 5 miles down from where we camped to the trail junction up to Half Dome, where we stowed some of our gear and then headed up with some water, food, and clothing. There were quite a few people going up toward Half Dome at the same time we were, which was a bit surprising given that it was Wednesday, but not surprising since it's summer in Yosemite just after the 4th of July. The first part of the hike was pretty typical of the rest of the PCT/JMT, but the last bit was unlike anything else on the trail. About a half mile from the top, we handed our tickets to the park ranger for access to the final part which involved a steep rock staircase up to the subdome, followed by the last climb to the top. The final leg of the climb was a sheer face of granite ranging from about 45 to 60 degrees from horizontal. Fortunately there was a metal cable on either side to hold on to, as well as wood plank steps where the poles supporting the cable were drilled in the rock. This would not have been so bad except for the fact that people were going up and down the same small corridor between the cables, with the corridor being only 3' wide.

Once at the top of Half Dome, we immediately heard some thunder in the distance so we didn't plan to spend a long time on top. I explored a little and took a few pictures along with 12 Ounce, Jimbrick, Annie, Wired, and a few day hikers. Very cool place to go and worth the side trip.

After Half Dome we went down the rest of the way to the valley via the Mist trail, which was true to it's name as the trail past Nevada Fall, Emerald Pool, and Vernal Fall.

Also of note today, we bumped into a fellow thru-hiker, Hercules, who has already hiked to Sonora Pass, but came back to Yosemite to hike with some friends from the bay area. It was very informative to talk to him about the upcoming creek crossings and the section in general. He said that the section is totally doable if you are willing to take an hour or two to search for a good place to cross the streams. Based on this information, and the fact that he seemed like a reliable source, we made the decision to head north out of Tuolumne to Sonora Pass instead of skipping ahead. We planned for 6 days in the event we need to camp before crossings in the early afternoon to wait for the water level to drop down so we can cross in the morning.

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