Day 14 - August 24th
We both knew the wonderful hiking trip would end today! We were having mixed emotions for the last few days. We were happy because we were able to accomplish and cheerish mother nature and especially having the greatest time of our life but also sad because this was the end of a long journey.
We both needed the extra sleep so we woke up around 7am! We would not be able to do anything until the Park office opened at 8am to pay our camp fee and needed to reserve for the second night after we hiked back from Happy Isle. Setting up and breaking down tents for the last 13 days became the daily routine so the thought of having the tent already setup after a long hike sound luxurious to us.
We stopped by Tuolumne Meadows store to get some Ramen noodles and snacks for Dinner in case we won't get back in time. This would be our backup food supply. We estimated the hike would take us around 9 hours or more so we would not have a chance to have Dinner at Tuolumne store. Normally hikers will take two days to hike from Happy Isle to Tuolumne Meadows, we decided to hike in one day with more than 23 miles and 6,000 ft elevation gain. I had my running hydration pack and Cyndi had her own hiking daypack so we would go light and fast.
After taking couple pictures at now "meaningful" High Sierra Loop trail sign for souvernir, we were more than ready to hike around 10:30am. I hiked this area many times but I did not realized John Muir Trail was a different trail to climb up to Nevada Fall. Personally I think the view from JMT was much better than the view from "tourist" trail. We felt like we can power hike up hill since our daypacks were about 1/3 of the weight of backpacks. We wanted to average about 20-25mins/mile so we were cruising although 6,000ft climb was not be any means of fun hike. We climbed over 6,000 ft whitin the first 13 miles. We reached Cathedral Pass (9,703ft) a little after 4pm and we still had about 8 more miles to go but mostly downhill. This was our chance to blow the final whistle the 11th time. From this point on, we hiked and did a little bit of trail running since it was starting to get dark. The section around Tuolumne Meadows was very confusing. We expected to cross Tioga Road and headed north direction for more than 1 mile and then we crossed Tioga Road again heading south to continue the John Muir Trail. It was getting dark and we were discussing if we made a mistake or was it better if we should continue on Tioga Road and eventually we would see the parking lot and Wilderness Permit office where we parked our car two weeks ago. My analogy was that we already hiked more than 200 miles and we should not skip this last 1 mile. We might miss something otherwise the trail should not design this way. Our question got awesome answer once we crossed the Tioga Road. Lo and behold, stunning beautiful Tuolumne Meadows appeared in front of us under the full moon. That was the most beautiful finish that we could ask for. We would not miss this view for the world! JMT made a little detour for this spectacular view. We were wondering if we would rather see in the day or late at night under the full moon. The pictures that we captured said it all. We felt lucky in a way that we started our hike very late this morning so that we could experience a such wonderful scenery waiting for us at the end of our long journey.
This adventure went flawless from the beginning to the end. Everything that we wished for and much much more. That was one of the lifetime adventure. I personally felt very lucky that Cyndi came along and shared this journey with me. She was the best thu-hike trekking partner that one could ask for. Her passion of outdoor adventure was contagious!
Top of Nevada Fall
More than 200 miles of trail and i was about to cross the Asphalt pavement road (Tioga Pass)!