The 2005 John Muir Trail Hike

  • First night out from Tuolumne ... camped by the highest Lyell Creek crossing First night out from Tuolumne ... camped by the highest Lyell Creek crossing
  • Crossing Lyell Creek before the final climb to Donahue Pass Crossing Lyell Creek before the final climb to Donahue Pass
  • Our camp on the northern shore of Lake Virginia at 10,300' Our camp on the northern shore of Lake Virginia at 10,300'
  • Departing Lake Virginia early in the morning Departing Lake Virginia early in the morning
  • Lucy on the final section of the climb to Goodale Pass Lucy on the final section of the climb to Goodale Pass
  • The Edison ferry arriving at the VVR landing The Edison ferry arriving at the VVR landing
  • On the Edison ferry, heading back to the JMT pickup point On the Edison ferry, heading back to the JMT pickup point
  • Lucy admiring the crystal clear waters of Heart Lake, below Selden Pass Lucy admiring the crystal clear waters of Heart Lake, below Selden Pass
  • Peter on the rocky trail above the South Fork of the San Joaquin River Peter on the rocky trail above the South Fork of the San Joaquin River
  • Peter and Lucy at Muir Hut on Muir Pass, 12,000' Peter and Lucy at Muir Hut on Muir Pass, 12,000'
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This year's JMT hike turned out to be quite different from the version Lucy and I completed in 2004. For starters, we began walking the Trail from Tuolumne Meadows, choosing to discard the first 24 miles from Happy Isles as unappealing; the Yosemite Valley trailhead is crowded with day-tripping tourists, for whom we have little regard.

The second factor that influenced the way we planned the trip was our reliance on only one vehicle, making the concept of leapfrogging road transport between Yosemite and Whitney Portal unworkable without the help of friends or commercial shuttles. Our good friend Pat Jenkins, who was trout fishing in the Bishop area, helped with an initial positioning of our vehicle at South Lake trailhead before returning us to Mammoth Lakes. From there, we rode the YARTS bus to Tuolumne Meadows for the start of the hike. Our intent was to walk south on the JMT with small re-supplies at Reds Meadow and VVR (Vermilion Valley Resort); choosing not to exit at Mammoth Lakes for a day off


Our main resupply point was to be over Bishop Pass to the South Lake trailhead. It took 11 days, including a day off at VVR, to hike the 118 miles from Tuolumne to South Lake. On the way, we made two deviations from the JMT, choosing to walk parallel trails for some variation in the routine and experience new locations and sights. For example, on the fifth day we crossed Goodale Pass on a direct route from high on the JMT, to VVR ... a daily distance of 17 miles from Virginia Lake where we'd camped the night before. After the day off at VVR, we took the normal ferry ride across Edison Lake to intercept the JMT once more, heading south to spend the night at Upper Bear Creek Meadow. On the ninth night we camped in the Upper Evolution Valley at an elevation of 11,300', not far below Muir Pass.

 

As we crossed Bishop Pass on the way to South Lake and our resupply point, cellphone contact delivered messages that required us to return urgently to Vancouver. Reluctantly, we decided to temporarily abandon the JMT and drive home, with a tentative plan to continue from South Lake in approximately two weeks time.

We left the Sierras on 2nd September; eventually returning to South Lake on 17th September and to a noticeable downward shift in temperatures and available daylight. For the first two days back in the mountains, we were playing catch-up, completing 15 miles each day in an attempt to be over Pinchot Pass to Woods Creek by the third night. We made it, only to wake to a morning of steady rain, and snow falling on the surrounding peaks.

Lacking sufficient food to sit it out, we set off for Rae Lakes, finally seeking the shelter of our small tent after 8 miles, wet through and very cold!

  • The busy rest stop for hikers at Muir Hut The busy rest stop for hikers at Muir Hut
  • A lake edge teaming with tadpoles A lake edge teaming with tadpoles
  • A young deer in Dusy Basin, not spooked by humans A young deer in Dusy Basin, not spooked by humans
  • Lake Marjorie on the northern side of Pinchot Pass Lake Marjorie on the northern side of Pinchot Pass
  • Arrowhead Lake, two miles north of Rae Lakes Arrowhead Lake, two miles north of Rae Lakes
  • Bailing out over Kearsarge Pass, the Kearsarge lakes below Bailing out over Kearsarge Pass, the Kearsarge lakes below
  • The way out ... looking down from Kearsarge Pass to the Owen's Valley The way out ... looking down from Kearsarge Pass to the Owen's Valley
  • Our last night's camp by Flower Lake Our last night's camp by Flower Lake
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The following morning, under clear skies once more, we crossed the 12,000' Glen Pass in wet snow and then decided to bailout from the JMT over Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley. Ranger information indicated difficult snow conditions on the 13,200' Forester Pass and the 13,600' Trail Crest Pass near Mt. Whitney. We exited the mountains at Onion Valley on 22nd September, concluding a somewhat fractured JMT hike, too late in the season for optimum weather conditions. However, we did walk a total of 192 miles and climbed a cumulative height of 35,000' ... not too shabby for the likes of us. See attached schedule.

 

©Peter W Tremayne Vancouver, WA October 2005

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