John Muir Trail Day 1: And so it begins…

Friday 8/20/21 8:55 PM DAY 1  📍Sunrise Creek  10.98 miles 6:45 hrs

Journal entry: Tears before even leaving town. Out of breath before getting on trail. Almost missed our 2nd YART, but we made it. I cried. The drive into Yosemite was beautiful, not having to drive myself. I thought I left my Garmin GPS, but I found it. 11AM start and I never want to hike out of the valley again. Non-stop uphill. Less people, so that’s cool. Nearly an hour break at Nevada Falls, where we stopped for our first lunch break. Before that ran into a couple who seemed to be so proud of us. Sunrise creek, dry camp. Set up right before sunset. 5 miles from Sunrise Lakes. Ramen for dinner. Stressed to find a site away from people. Red fullish moon! Dead ass tired. No blisters. 15 mile day tomorrow to TM resupply.

Story: We missed our bus the first day. After confirmed reservations, and not being able to reschedule for the same day, we begin our JMT journey a day late. Leaving my car parked in Mammoth, CA and a 2-hour bus ride to Yosemite Valley, we arrive around 10 AM, and still don’t officially get on trail until 11 AM. It’s Friday, but the national park is currently limited to the number of visitors, so the park is kind of quiet. It’s warm, but not hot and we’re dressed in our layers from this morning.

My sister Brittany and I have done part of this hike before, heading to Nevada Falls- but this was the first time with a heavy pack, so we took our time as we made our way up. Most thru-hikers will start their day early, since it was almost noon, it felt like we were the only thru-hikers climbing out of the valley that afternoon. Families stopped to ask about our journey and told us how proud of us they were. It felt surreal hearing such encouragement from complete strangers.

We stopped for lunch at the top of Nevada Falls. Baby carrots, peanut butter, and crackers for a solid hour before getting back on trail. Sunrise Lakes was the destination for the day, but with a late start and a slow climb, there would be no way we could have made the 20-mile day on Day 1, and bravo to those who add Half Dome to their JMT thru-hike- because the climb out of the valley is no joke. Hiking through the recent burn area near Sunrise Creek was intense. Charred black trees covered the forest for miles, as we made our way to Sunrise Creek.

When we arrived at a campsite, there were already two others camping and having dinner. We didn’t care to camp so close to others on our first night, and after a very long day, we just wanted to chill out. We continued down the trail a bit further away from the creek, when we stumbled upon a site just big enough for our 2-person hotel. With surrounding fires outside of Yosemite National Park, the sky covered with ash made the moon shine bright red. It was a bit eerie for the first night on the JMT, but after 10.98 miles in 6:45 hours, we were just too tired to care.

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Vanessa is an outdoors enthusiast, hiker at heart, and the storyteller behind Forever She Wanders; a women's lifestyle + travel blog inspiring all to get outdoors, seek adventure and live an active lifestyle. As an outdoors enthusiast, Vanessa has found passion in being outdoors while backpacking, camping, hiking and creating memories of a lifetime.

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