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  • Writer's pictureErin McKibbey

John Muir Trail 2016 - Part Three

Day Fifteen: Quail Meadows To Fish Creek Miles: Approx. 11.4 Pass: Silver Pass (10,745 Ft Elevation) We started our morning off with an 8 mile, 3000ft elevation climb. It was pretty tough but we handled it. We made it to the top of Silver Pass which was gorgeous! You could see a couple lakes and where we would be heading the next couple of days. We decided that we should eat lunch down by Squaw Lake which was suppose to be where we camped that night. But with how early it was we decided to keep going. A couple had mentioned Lake Victoria which was only 5miles away. Only thing was that we would have to climb down 1000ft then up 1200ft. We decided we'll try to attempt it but once we got to the switch backs someone had told us its another 2 hours until we would reach the lake. Needless to say we called it a day and found an awesome camp site by Fish Creek. We cleaned up, ate dinner, and David cooked a fish he caught.

Day Sixteen: Fish Creek to Deer Creek Miles: Approx. 11.8 Pass: None. We got a late start this morning but made it to Virginia Lake by 9am. It is just as gorgeous as the couple the day before told us. Oh, and the climb wasn't bad at all! We definitely could have made it the night before but that's okay. The rest of the day involved lots of ups and downs and several lakes. We were getting closer and closer to Reds Meadow which means random 3G spots on our phones! Dave got a few bars right before we reached Deer Creek and I was able to talk to my mom for the first time in 16 days! It felt amazing to hear her voice. Once we got to camp we quickly cleaned up and washed our clothes which was definitely needed.

Day Seventeen: Deer Creek to Gladys Lake Miles: Approx. 15.2 Pass: None We woke up to freezing conditions in the morning. It was the coldest morning we had. Dave had attempted to sleep in his hammock that night but he got so cold that he had to climb back into his and Kait's tent but not before getting the ice off of his sleeping bag. All the cold did was encourage us to make it to Reds Meadow faster! Actual food sounded amazing! Our hike started with a 6mile hike downhill into a place we are very firmilar with; Mammoth Mountain. Hiking on the trail we could see the Gondola on top. Seeing it gave us a homey feeling. We were practically sprinting to make it in time for breakfast. This was the first real meal Luke and I have had in 17 days! We scarfed it down so fast! After breakfast we walked around, explored the area. We even had real toilets to use! We got a few beers from the General Store and relaxed outside while we waited for lunch. That's right, we got lunch as well! I'm not sure how smart that decision was since we hung out there for most of the day and still had 7 more miles to hike and it was all up hill. A couple of ladies suggested going past Trinity Lakes to Gladys Lake which would be another 2.6 miles but worth it. We made it there just before the sun went down.

Day Eighteen: Gladys Lake To Rush Creek Miles: Approx. 10.6 Pass: Island Pass (10,225 Ft Elevation) Being able to watch the sun rise while we got ready for the day is always a nice way to start. We weren't sure how far we would hike this day but our original plan was to stay at Thousand Island Lake which was only 7.5 miles away. We decided to plan on having lunch there and see how we felt. Getting there involved a lot of ups and downs. We passed by five different lakes, and with every lake we passed we had to climb up and over a ridge to the next. It was all worth it though. Thousand Island Lake looked like a mini paradise right in the Sierras. There where people all over the place fishing, swimming, and lounging around. Luke and I even took a nap in the sun. The only downside of the lake is that it was too windy to camp. We decided to push on since it was still early and Island Pass was going to be super easy. We were warned that a lot of the creeks dried up around Donohue Pass so we couldn't go too far. We found a great spot next to Rush Creek to camp for the night.

Day Nineteen: Rush Creek To Tuolumne Meadows Miles: Approx. 15.6 Pass: Donahue Pass (11,056ft Elevation) Our day started out normal but ended in a way we didn't expect. We started our day early and began to head toward Donahue Pass. It was windy going up the trail but the view of June Mountain in the distance was incredible. Being able to see June Mountain really put into perspective of where we actually where and how far we had come. But that feeling didn't compare to the feeling of finally crossing over into Yosemite. It was a sign that the end of this adventure was looming near. We took a break at the top of the pass, cuddled up behind a rock to shield us from the wind, before heading down into Yosemite. It was all downhill after that (literally). It was such a gorgeous hike! David found an awesome spot to fish that had these gigantic fish swimming around. He almost caught a couple of them but no luck. It's definitely a spot that we would come back to later on. For now though, we continued on with hopes of camping at Tuolumne Meadows but when we figured out a spot I found out we weren't allowed to camp in Tuolmne Meadows! We had to camp at least 4 miles outside of Tuolumne Meadows and it was already super late and we were exhausted. We came upon a group of hikers who had just started the JMT and they suggested we stay in the tent cabins like them. It was very intriguing and when David came back and said they had one tent left we decided "what the hell" and got it. A random and surprising end to our day. The tent cabins were pretty damn nice! A wood burning stove, comfortable cots, and hot showers. This was the first time in 19 days that Luke and I showered and it felts amazing! It was starting to set in that our last night of camping on the trail would be the next night. We all spent the night talking about our adventures thus far on the trail.

Day Twenty: Tuolumne Meadows To Sunrise Creek Miles: Approx. 13.4 Pass: Cathedral Pass Its hard to think that just 21 days ago we were dropping cars off at trail heads and sleeping at the start of Cottonwood Pass. We all had different emotions coming to the end of the adventure. David and Luke were both super depressed and wished they could just stay out there forever. I loved being out there and achieving something so amazing but I couldn't wait to finish and officially be able to say "We Did It!". We started our hike a bit late this day because we wanted to enjoy the cabin and coffee as long as we possibly could. We made it up to Cathedral Lakes for lunch and enjoyed the beautiful view and water. Before we hit the pass someone warned us that there was little to no water on the other side. So we loaded up on water and continued on. At one point we ended up in a line of backpackers on the trail. It was the most people we had seen on the trail which made it even more comical. We found a small amount of water in a super wooded area and called it a day. Our last day was almost here!

Day Twenty-One: Sunrise Creek To Yosemite Happy Isles Miles: Approx. 10miles Pass: None Our morning started out cold but we were filled with so much excitement that it didn't even bother us. For some odd reason David was taking his time packing up his stuff while Luke and I were ready to cross that finish line. The entire hike was filled with us reminiscing about the trip and pointing out some of Yosemite's most famous peaks. We passed right under Half Dome. We could barely see the people climbing the side of it! Once we started getting closer to Nevada Falls we saw more and more people. It was insane the amount of people! There were tons! A majority of them weren't very nice either. Some of them looked at us funny probably because we looked and smelt like homeless people which made us laugh. The end of the hike was steep down hill but with all the people around we felt the need to hurry down as fast as we could. David and Kait were on a mission that Luke and I had trouble keeping up. Once we got passed the insane crowds and steep section we could tell we were getting close. As we were coming up to the end I could hear people cheering off in the distance. I was looking around and I saw my mom, sister Nicole, her wife Jewls, and our puppy Maxx! They were cheering for us and held up a sign! I was in complete shock! I couldn't hold back my tears and just started bawling. My mom came running down (also crying) and we hugged for what seemed like forever. Luke and I were incredibly thankful that they were there to share this amazing ending with us. Definitely one of the greatest surprises EVER! We all walked back to our cars where they had beers waiting for us and on the back of our car window "We Did It! JMT 2016! Whitney to Yosemite!" was written on the back. Truly a perfect ending! We hung out by the cars for a while drinking beer, showing off our hurt feet and bruises then headed out to get pizza and then to Mammoth where we splurged and got a room at the Westin.

This was such an amazing adventure and journey for us. We have wanted to hike the entire John Muir Trail for a very long time and to be able to finally say that we did is amazing. We aren't sure what is next for us but we know that someday we will be back to hike it again. Maybe PCT will be next? The options are endless!

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