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Bryan Murahashi | profile | all galleries >> 2006 Adventures >> July 23 - Backpacking the John Muir trail in Yosemite NP tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

July 23 - Backpacking the John Muir trail in Yosemite NP

And Off They Go.

Bryan Murahashi, Susan Parks and I launched Ben White, Bill Henry and
Sherri Johnson on their 23 day journey to Mt. Whitney on Tuesday. If all
goes according to plan, they will arrive at Lone Pine on Aug 19th after
climbing Mt. Whitney and coming down the other side.

Two years ago, Bill admitted to Ben that he wanted to walk the entire
211 miles of the John Muir Trail sometime. Somehow Ben and Sherri
thought that the time had come when they, too, wanted to test their
mettle. They have been planning, weighing, counting, shopping, packing,
corresponding, meeting, reading, viewing videos and maps, and emailing
for the last 9 months and finally the baby has arrived.

Every detail has been delved into, debated, researched and decided; how
many calories a day to eat, where those calories were coming from, would
they fit in the bear canisters, where the ‘escape points’ along the
trail were, how many miles per day to walk, what days would be non
hiking days, what hat, socks, shoes, pants, shirts, gators to wear,
should they buy new light weight packs, what tent to take, where to mail
the food caches and how to get to the start point and get home from the
end point. Every little gnats eyebrow has been rehashed over the last
winter and spring. Several conditioning hikes were added to the Thinair
schedule this past spring to ensure everyone would be ready for the big

Bryan, Susan and I agreed to accompany them for the first two days. That
would get us to Toulemne Meadows from which we 3 would then drive back
to Silicon Valley.

We six went to Yosemite Valley on Sunday and stayed at Camp Curry for
two nights sewing up the last details for the trip. Camp Curry was as
noisy as always. Sometime around midnight a busload of Japanese arrived
and milled around the cabins calling to each other as they searched for
their own cabins. Waking up and hearing foreign voices calling from
every direction was a weird experience and hard to describe.

On Tuesday morning we arose at 4:30am and got on the trail an hour
later. We were trying to beat that pesky heat wave that had temperatures
in the valley near the century mark for days. Other backpackers were up
and about in the dark as well. It was about 65 degrees.

The goal for day 1 was to find a camp site about 11 miles from Camp
Curry and about 4000 feet in elevation gain. I decided after two hours
of hiking that I felt really crummy and the best thing to do was to go
back down and meet up with the others at Tuolumne Meadows the next
night. They went ahead and walked 14 miles that day in 13 hours with
“lots of rests” until they finally decided to call it quits for the day.
I returned to Camp Curry, picked up our stashes in the bear boxes, drove
up to Tuolumne Meadows, stayed in the backpackers camp at the campground
there, met some interesting people and got up the next morning for a
ranger led birdwalk which lasted 3 and a half hours. We had reservations
for tent cabins at Tuolumne Lodge and dinner on Wednesday and so I
checked in at noon, and waited for the hardy hikers to arrive.

They arrived about 3pm looking awfully fresh for having walked 21 miles
with 5000 feet of elevation gain in the last two days. Maybe they didn’t
feel so fresh though, ‘cause all they could talk about was getting into
the showers. We got the same tent cabins that we had in 2001 when the
wood truck burnt up about 100 feet away in the middle of the night. Ah,

Dinner at the lodge was delicious with trout and wine and pasta and
tomato basil soup and wonderful salad. No one stayed up for the campfire
program, tho. Breakfast at the lodge was again really super duper and
then after more packing and some picture taking, the JMT hikers were off
about 9am. We may hear from them or we may not. Their next connection
with civilization will be when they arrive at Reds Meadow near Mammoth
in a couple of days.

Bryan, Susan and I decided to take a hike over to Soda Springs and drank
some of the natural soda water and then visited Parsons Memorial Cottage
there. We then drove to Hetch Hetchy and walked a short way on the trail
to Rancheria Falls. On our way, we happened to come across a blondish
cub bear crossing the trail from the brush to the reservoir for a cool
drink. We were only about 20 feet from him/her and couldn’t see mama
anywhere. Bryan got some photos of it
and probably will share soon.

Susan and I will drive down and pick them up on August 19th and then
there will be more stories to tell.

Wish them luck. I know they are having the time of their lives out there.

Sandy Vaurs
July 23 - Arrival to Curry Village
:: July 23 - Arrival to Curry Village ::
July 24 - Getting the Wilderness permit
:: July 24 - Getting the Wilderness permit ::
July 25 - Hike to Sunrise High Sierra Camp
:: July 25 - Hike to Sunrise High Sierra Camp ::
July 26 - Hike to Tuolomne Meadows
:: July 26 - Hike to Tuolomne Meadows ::
July 27 - The drive home
:: July 27 - The drive home ::