John Muir Trail, Day 1: Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley

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Check this out! Jennifer is joining in on posting here. To do that, I’ve given her total access to my blog, so if you see something weird on other pages, tell me. She can’t be trusted….. Anyway, get excited. There will be my regular posts, and Jennifer will add her commentary too on some/hopefully all. Double the fun!!! So here goes: 

I remember waking up on Day 1 in disbelief that it was finally here. Everyone says that, right? I took a nice, semi-long shower, knowing it was going to be a while before I had one of those. Everyone says that, too.

I knew I wasn’t crazy-nervous because I couldn’t poop. Everyone probably doesn’t say that. So if you’re reading this and thinking that this was WAY too much information, you might want to tune out to these posts. There is a lot of poop to talk about. But yes – normally, if I’m really really nervous, I poop a lot. Some people sweat a lot, some people get nauseated. I poop. And since I didn’t that morning, that meant two things: 1) I wasn’t nervous and 2) these next couple of days were going to be interesting….

Anyway, we all took our sweet time that morning, knowing it would be a while before we saw our respective loved ones, and we made it to the Glacier Point trailhead around noon. If you’re unfamiliar with this location, it’s an alternate start point to Happy Isles, the more popular trailhead and official start of the JMT. At GP, the Panorama Trail eventually joins up with the JMT near Nevada Falls and then heads via a relatively flat trail about 1 mile further to the Little Yosemite Valley campsite.


We did some final rearranging at the car, and walked to a more scenic area to eat some shitty lunch sandwiches (but note: fresh food!). At the time, I was feeling pretty stoked about getting another attempt at that beastly Half Dome the next day, so sitting right in front of it was cool. I remember thinking about Yosemite, looking around and realizing that, yeah, we’d get to Half Dome the next day, but we were walking waaaaay past it too – a distance I hadn’t quite appreciated and probably wouldn’t for a few days.

J:  Unlike Heather, I had no problem flushing out my system a few times that morning.  All I had to do was picture the steep climb up the cables on Half Dome and my nerves put me right back in the bathroom.  I mean, just look at that thing! AND two weeks earlier, a large chunk of rock fell off the north face of HD with reports warning that more rockfall is likely in this area.  Awesome.  The good thing was that my fear of climbing Half Dome blocked any worry of actually completing the JMT.  That was just walking…


We took a few more pictures of ourselves looking pretty excited, super clean, and pain-free. We even had good hair that day, and of course, no other trail casualties at that point.


I should mention that, by this point, we’d already seen 4 bears. Yup. Three of them were chillin’ in the woods off the road as we drove up to the trailhead, and one was right there at Glacier Point, a little ways from the parking lot, just minding his/her own business. I was glad to have seen them before hiking, hoping that meant I wouldn’t see them while hiking. I realize now that that was a really stupid way of thinking…


We finally set off, and the moments following our departure were so surreal. Chris and Jon were standing there watching us, like the way parents watch their kids the first day they get on the school bus. Allow me to stereotype for a moment: Chris was the ‘dad’ – snapping pictures of us walking away, looking proud and excited; Jon was the ‘mom’ – wiping his eyes and weeping just a little bit, thinking about his little girl going off into the big world. It was perfect, and even though I’m joking, I’m sure that is just a little bit accurate.

J:  I remember a slightly different departure…Chris was creepily trying to take photos of his wife’s hiking booty as she walked away while Jon wiped sweat from his brow secretly hoping to get back to the air conditioned car.  Jon and I knew we’d miss each other, but it was only 3 weeks, right?  It didn’t seem like it would be a big deal.

The thing I remember most of all though was when we had trouble finding the trailhead (great start, right?) and the two hikers we asked for directions exclaimed, “Wow! You girls are backpacking and the boys are heading home? That’s awesome!”  …Agreed.

We were finally hiking. Months of planning how to get permits, months of planning the trip itself, and then now – Day 1. Mother fucker. Holy shit. Oh boy.


I think the first day was harder than either one of us expected. I for one hadn’t thought at all about the temperature we’d be walking in, having started hiking in the afternoon. And while we had a decent amount of downhill to do since we started higher than the our campsite for the night, we also had some climbing and sweating to take care of. It was hot as balls. Hotter than balls.

Most of the people we saw were day hikers. When we got to Nevada Falls, we stopped for a nice break and even helped some underprepared day hikers by loaning them our Steripen to sterilize water, as they’d sorely underestimated how much they’d need for the walk up to that point. It felt pretty badass to be helping someone on the first day ;). Well, badass until I laid down in a pile of dirt (not pictured).


I have written down that we got to camp around 5 that day. It gave us plenty of time to adjust to our surroundings, fill up our water, and drink some whiskey (straight, too! so badass) while we still wanted it. It was a good way to end the first day until we walked right into a giant mud hole. That was awesome.


There was some creeper across from our tent who was sitting there munching on Doritos and staring at people. Nice huh? Judging by his clothes, I think he was one of the Yosemite ‘janitors’ – he didn’t have a backpack, had a shit-ton of junk food for dinner, and had rubbery-looking waders on. I decided there were plenty of people around, so he wasn’t worth worrying about. Plus, if he really was cleaning that toilet area, I liked him even if he was a creeper.

What was worth worrying about was the warning we got around 8PM that a bear was nearby. Great way to start this trip, eh?

J: A bear was 150 meters away from our camp!  The ranger was telling everyone to pack up their food and scented items in the bear boxes (locked metal vaults) because they were trying to scare the bear away using paintball guns, but “it will be wandering through camp tonight” …What?!?  I triple checked that my honey flavored lip balm was NOT still in my pocket and tried to get some sleep.

Obviously, neither of us were eaten by said bear….so I’ll ruin that suspense, and close for Day 1.

Below are stats for the day, as I’ll try to do at the end of each day. So what’s the big adventure tomorrow? Half Dome, bitches! And a whole lotta UP.

Day 1 Details (July 25,2015):
Start-Finish: Glacier Point to Little Yosemite Valley
Daily Miles: 8
Total mileage tally: 8
Total JMT miles: 4.5
Camp Elevation: 6,130 ft
Hiking Elevation: 1089 ft gain, 2172 ft loss

Hey! Here’s a link to all JMT posts for your reading pleasure ;). You’re welcome.

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