July 24, 2015
Yosemite National Park
My sister Courtney and I flew into Fresno, CA late yesterday, took a shuttle to our hotel and spent the evening repacking for our upcoming trip. We had been preparing since February to hike the John Muir Trail together, a 221 mile trail that ran through the heart of the Sierras in central California. I had hiked the JMT in 2013 when I did the Pacific Crest Trail, but it had been such an amazing part of my journey that I couldn’t wait to do it again.
It had been a long process to get to this point: we had tried for two weeks to get permits, faxing in our application multiple times daily in order to get one of the coveted 45 spots per day that were allotted to do the trail. We finally secured a permit – and one to climb Half Dome – and began our planning in earnest.
While Courtney arranged transportation and hotel arrangements, I bought and packaged all our food drops and planned our daily itinerary. By the time July finally came around, we were tired of all the planning and just ready to be out on the trail for three weeks! Now that we were finally here we couldn’t wait to get started.
Today Courtney and I had breakfast at the hotel before catching the bus into Yosemite. The drive took a few hours, and the road was so serpentine that we ended up getting quite car sick, but the drive was beautiful, nonetheless. I had never been to Yosemite valley, having only skirted the edge of it when I was here in 2013, and I did not have very fond memories of the place. I remembered days of hot, humid afternoons and lightning storms, trails that were unceremoniously brutal, and the worst of it: being constantly covered in a swarm of biting mosquitoes. Yosemite, at the time, had felt like punishment for leaving the beauty of the PCT.
This year, however, Yosemite proved my memories wrong. The beauty of the valley quickly blew me away. The looming Half Dome and El Capitan dominated our views, and every corner seemed to have another waterfall to gaze upon.
Courtney and I picked up our permits in the ranger station and then set up our tent in the backpacker’s campground nearby. Since we had the whole day to enjoy the valley, we wandered around soaking in the sights and doing a few smaller hikes around the area. Since it was mid-summer, the valley was flooded with tourists, but despite all the people, it didn’t diminish the beauty of the park. The weather was perfect and I hoped it would stay that way – a late winter storm had blown through the JMT last week, and I heard a lot of hikers had gotten rained out and stuck in the freak snowstorm. This week, however, was looking perfect and I couldn’t wait to get started.