My Trail Journal
The thought of hiking the entire John Muir Trail (JMT) was in my mind for sometime. I guess after the trip to Alaska in 2017, it ignited my desire to do this epic hike - how much I really miss the outdoor. Late in the fall of 2017, that was when I decided to plan and learn as much as i can about JMT. I subscribed to John Muir listserv group and read all the blogs and information related to John Muir Trail that I could find. Little I knew that all my backpacking gears that I bought for my first trip thru-hike to Glacier National Park a decade ago were either too heavy or not too effective for a long distance such as JMT. On top that applying the JMT wilderness permit is not easy! It was a lottery system IF you like to start from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley. I got reject 42 times!
There are alternate routes and trailheads that you can start and make up the missing trails to complete the official JMT trail of 211 miles. Instead of going Southbound (SOBO), most of hikers end up of going Northbound (NOBO). The issue of going NOBO is that you would climb Mt. Whitney (14,505 ft) right at the start and most people will have issue with high altitude sickness.
A little trick "know-how" did wonder... Everyday, the wilderness office posted the permit status online. By trapping the webpage changed, it triggered an alert an email. By knowing what changing, i was able to find out the availability of someone just cancelled the permit. Lucky enough, we got the permit starting at Glacier Point in Yosemite on August 12th!
Fire can be a curse but can also a blessing.... Ferguson fire starting since July 13th forced Yosemite National Park to extend its closure of Yosemite Valley and other areas within the park due to unhealthy smoke and firefighting operations. My entire year of planning for this hike might not happen or could end up of postponing until next year! My vacation request already booked and my resupply already shipped to Muir Trail Ranch (MTR). The only thing left is to wait and hopefully that Yosemite will be opened soon. The alternate plan was to hike other trails did cross my mind if JMT did not work out. The Tahoe Rim trail or even Colorado trail were the backup plans! The other idea came to mind was to go northbound (NOBO). We would need to start from Cottonwood Lake and hike 23 miles to Crabtree on the first day. Next day we would summit Mtn Whitney where we officially start our John Muir Trail NOBO. The problem was that we could no longer request the NOBO starting date that we wanted. Everyone else did the same thing, hikers head northbound (NOBO) instead of southbound (SOBO) to avoid the unhealthy smoke. SOBO hikers started cancelling their trip due smoke and closure of Yosemite Valley. Hikers on trail reported back that they exited early due to poor air quality. The final decision was to wait-and-see attitude!
The first little good news was on August 9th, Ferguson fire was 79% containment. I knew then heading to Tuolume Meadows and requested the JMT wilderness would be a right choice. So early Saturday morning on August 11th Cyndi and I were heading north toward Yosemite via Highway 120.