JMT 2016 - An Unfinished Journey - First week

5:33 p.m. on September 4, 2016 (EDT)
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A jaw-dropping site coming out of the tunnel!

8/4 Flew from Seattle to Fresno then took the YARTS into Yosemite.  When the bus dropped me off I was feeling awesome. I'm finally here after months of planning and preparation. I found my way to Backpackers camp and set up camp. Then explored the park. 

8/5 Woke up early and said goodbye to my friend I met there who was starting the JMT today. She was solo hiking too, as her friend bailed at last minute. I headed down to the wilderness station to pick up permit for overnight hike somewhere. I was supposed to catch the bus early this morning to the Porcupine Flat trailhead but woke up late due to crazy headache all night. I got a permit to do Snow Creek via Mirror Lake. I made my way to Mirror Lake about 1130 and started hiking. After the first couple hours the difficulty of this trail was setting in. It was a steep climb that took all day. When I finally reached a place I could camp there was a sign with camp closings due to bear activity. I hiked about 1/4 mile beyond that area and set up camp. I was exhausted and emotionally drained. It was hot! 

I built a campfire in the huge established fire pit and made dinner. Then rinsed clothes and hung them out to dry (a chore that would become a daily habit on the JMT). I fell asleep around 2100 only to be awakened by 3 bears wrestling with my bear canister. I yelled at them and made all kinds of noises, and it took them nearly 30 minutes to leave the area. I ran out to check the canister for I was certain that they got in it. Nope! Still closed and intact. I couldn't believe it. I went back to my tent and fell asleep. I awoke again around 0300 to same thing but was too exhausted to get up. I shined my headlamp out their way and yelled. Then fell asleep. 

Mirror Lake 

Shrine at Mirror Lake 

8/6 I woke up next morning and it was still intact but dirty and 50 feet from where I left it. After eating breakfast and packing up I set out for the hike down the canyon back to Mirror Lake. It only took me a couple hours to get down. I then walked to Degans Deli and got a hot sausage egg and cheese croissant and a cup of coffee. Best meal ever! I was so hungry!! Then I recharged my phone and texted family to let them know I would be starting the JMT in the morning. 

Made my way back to Backpackers camp and met so many new friends. Then walked over to Half Dome Village for a shower. Very refreshing! I ended up hiking back to Half Dome Village that evening too for some real good food for dinner and bought some last minute stuff from the mountaineering store there. 

8/7 woke up early and headed out for the JMT feeling a million emotions and a little bit of fear of the unknown. 


Wow I can't believe I'm here! I started up the paved trail feeling short of breath and thinking all kinds of crazy thought like how am I going to do this when the altitude is already kicking my but! This whole first day was hard! 

Just amazing beauty everywhere! 

Nevada Falls ? Or Vernal Falls ? I forget

It took me all day to reach LYV I was feeling sick, like heat exhaustion sick. I was starting to question this whole trip. I finally made it to LYV around 1500 and I was supposed to hike Half Dome today but I was already feeling dead. I contemplated a sunset hike up there and then a sunrise hike up there. I didn't want to leave without doing it. It bothered me all night that I wouldn't get a chance to do it. 


8/8 I woke up the next morning and hung around camp late into the morning. Chatting with friends and thinking about the mileage I had to get in today. I hiked out and when I got to the Half Dome junction I saw some friends I met and they were chanting "do it! " " do it ! " "Liz you gotta do it, this is what you came for!" . I agreed. I hid my bear canister and pack at the junction and took an UL day pack up to the Dome. It was beautiful! 

Starting up the cables! Woo hoo! 

The hike up to the cables was scary in itself!! Very steep! 

Here goes...

image.jpgResting  on top! feeling completely amazed at how beautiful it is up here!

This picture does no justice to the real thing! 

Heading back down the cables

I reached the junction back to the JMT at 1530! With no water left! Feeling exhausted! I wanted to pitch the tent here and sleep, but I had to go on. I finally get a stream after another couple of miles. I stopped for a much needed water supply and late lunch. I rested about 30 minutes then onward. I was supposed to be at Sunrise High Sierra camp tonight! I knew that wasn't happening. I hiked until dusk and made to a camp about 2 miles before Sunrise High camp. There were some other hikers there that I met earlier that day on the Dome. 

Somewhere on the trail before High Sierra Sunrise camp 

8/9 Woke up early and set out for what would be a very long and emotional day to Tuolumne Meadows. 

Very cool looking trees today on the trail, hiked through a burnt section that was so mysterious looking. 

It was a very hot day today! Felt like 100F 

When I finally made it to High Sierra camp I was so tired! I stopped to get water, they had running water up there! Yay! I met some employees of the camp there and they gave me an apple and some trail mix and cookies! I was so grateful! I had given a lot of my food away in LYV to some hikers who were out of food and I left myself a couple meals because I knew I was re supplying in Tuolumne Meadows next day. So these goodies made my day! 

I continued on the trail and it got hotter and hotter! I only passed one person on the trail in the next 3 hours. I started getting low on water again and was scared that I wasn't going to reach a water source for a while. 

I finally reached Cathedral Lake and met up with a friend. I was so happy to see a familiar face! And to get more water. I took a rest at the lake and ate some food. 

Cathedral Peak

Cathedral Lake

i shared the trail with lots of horses and pack mules 

Finally reached Tuolumne Meadows at about 1745 and hurried to the bus stop to get a shuttle in to the lodge area. The shuttle guy passed me twice without stopping, then my friend showed up and we both waited patiently feeling beat down from today's hike. I couldn't feel my feet! I think I hiked about 15 miles today.  Finally a ranger stopped (Sally) she said hop in, and gave us a ride to the lodge. She told us to fill out a report on the shuttle not picking us up, she said it was a real problem this summer with shuttle guy. 

We got to the lodge put our name on the dinner reservTion list for 1830 and checked in to our tent cabins and took a well needed shower. We then met for dinner and we sat with 6 other people, it was nice to meet other hikers and hear their stories. When I got back to my cabin I made a fire in my wood stove and settled into bed. I was asleep before my head hit the pillow! Slept 8 hours! 

Inside my tent cabin at Tuoumne Meadows


8/10 woke up and took another shower and had an amazing breakfast with my friends and a whole new group of people. Then made my way to the store to get my re supply package, I walked because it was too early for shuttle.

Re supply

2:15 p.m. on September 5, 2016 (EDT)
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An interesting journey.  Yosemite has some old school ways to visit the outdoors like the wall tent villages and the High Camps.  I have always wanted to visit one of the high camps with real food and wall tents. They fill up fast.

I went on my last pack trip in about 2002, riding a black mule named Raven with Rock Creek Outfitters. We camped at 10,000 feet. The second or third day an older lady named Irene rode in on white mule. She had made a career of cooking each summer in the High Camps of the Sierra. She had a thousand stories about cooking for 100 people and meeting all sorts of famous ones. Recently I ran into her book she wrote about her life.

4:53 p.m. on September 5, 2016 (EDT)
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That's so cool! The high camp tents are nice. I heard there is a lottery to do the high camp loop and stay at all the tents. I would love that! 

I was just sitting here for past 2 hours filling in week 2 and I got up to take a break and it was gone. So now I have to start writing from the beginning. I write all this on a iPad! No key board! What a total pain in the you know what. Well maybe later, I will sit down for another 2 hours and do it again. I love to share my hiking experiences with everyone but trying to poke a screen for hours is a bit too much. I need to invest in a good computer. 

6:14 p.m. on September 5, 2016 (EDT)
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It is interesting that you can down from Seattle. The weather in the Sierras is addicting. I made a trip to Three Sisters last year near Bend in mid Sept. It was 39 and windy one afternoon.

I have many fond memories of hiking in the Cascades in Washington, but I can also remember camping next to a lake enshrouded in fog for 3 days and never seeing it. Building a fire took 3 hours.  Best of luck on your next week.

11:22 a.m. on September 8, 2016 (EDT)
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Pretty rad trip!

6:03 p.m. on September 10, 2016 (EDT)
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Yes it was pretty cool ;)  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take the time off to go. I need to finish the rest of the trip report. Long story short, I had to get off the trail due to illness. Ended up with severe respiratory infection and in bed for 12 days! Never found out what it was that I had. Was not bacterial and was not Valley fever. Most likely viral. I made it to MTR and thats when i started feeling not quite myself. I stayed another night there and went to the hot springs. Then the next morning I hiked out to Florence lake and took ferry to other side. A very nice man drove me into Fresno to catch a flight home that night. 

I met the most amazing people out here! Every day I met someone awesome! Made lots of new friends, joined Ladies of the JMT group, and hiked with some of them. I laughed, cried, overcame daily challenges, saw amazing beauty, learned a lot about myself, learned a lot about being out there in the wilderness for extended period of time which is quite different than a week long trip. 

My days became routine...waking up at 0500, go fetching my bear canister, boiling water, making breakfast, packing up camp, hiking out, massive elevation gains and losses every day,then setting up camp again, boiling more water for dinner, cleaning up everything, rinsing the dirty clothes, hanging them out to dry, taking photos, strategically placing bear canister for the night, going to bed.

Wake up...repeat times 18 days. I started to blend in with nature, I felt a part of it. As each day went by my desire to go back to civilization dwindled, I had a new appreciation and love for the wilderness. The hiking community out there was just awesome. 

I have a new appreciation for running water, my comfy bed, and a hot bath.

I look forward to returning next summer to finish the journey. Maybe even go a little further beyond the JMT as well. 

12:00 p.m. on September 11, 2016 (EDT)
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Your last post is very impressive Elizabeth. You have had an experience that separates you from the rest of the herd.  You have that amazing and intense gratitude that is so important in the outdoors.  I really like the people I meet in the backcountry.  You met some great ones. 

Write about your experience some more while it is still fresh in your mind.  Describe the details and the people you met.  Make a record of it so you can refer to 25 years from now.  It will be priceless.

2:01 p.m. on September 12, 2016 (EDT)
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Sounds like an awesome experience. Sorry to hear that it was cut short! It looks like you had a good time while you were there and got to do some amazing things.

7:01 a.m. on September 16, 2016 (EDT)
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Very nice photos and trip report...Very detailed..Now you have an understanding of long distance hikers...LOL  sounds like you hit on how they feel at times...

10:24 a.m. on September 16, 2016 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing this awesome report, Liz! Isn't the Half Dome hike awesome?!? Kudos to you for doing it! It is definitely a challenge. I had no idea how much arm strength it would require. Yosemite is one of my favorite places, so I love to see pictures from there. I'm so glad you enjoyed your time out there!

6:09 p.m. on September 22, 2016 (EDT)
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I like that you are not out there to escape people, that they are as much part of your experience as the outdoors.  I also like your preference to keep clean.   Many lack the desire or energy for personal hygiene, but I am sure you'll agree NONTHING beats the feeling of being freshly washed in clean clothes while in the middle of nowhere, excepts, perhaps augmenting that with a fresh caught trout dinner.

Too bad your trip was derailed by health issues.  This is the perfect season for your hike, as all the kids are back in school, making for a much less crowded, "adults" only trail experience.  And early fall is the best time of year to visit these mountain, there is just something about the air an light, not to mention climate of the season.

There is a good chance we would have met on your trip had you journeyed on, for I, too, will chat with anyone willing to exchange.  I was on the JMT section from Piute Creek to Little Pete about the same time as you were at MTR; I am sure we would have crossed trails. 

I will say you need to avoid running out of water, as your fatigue probably was in part due to dehydration.  This is especially a big issue in the desiccated air of the High Sierra.  But your pluck makes you well suited for extended Sierra treks!  Thare's gold in d'em hills, and some has your name on it!


September 22, 2018
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