The “Neet Beat” and Daily Musings on the John Muir Trail

At Happy Isle Trailhead in Yosemite

So I am sitting here in the Little Yosemite Valley backpacking site. What an incredible first day on the trail.  Yesterday Ray and I were greeted with family who showed up to see us off. It is so exciting to have family members share the experience. Thank you very much Mom, Kirk, Kyle, Michael, Ryan and Audrey!!  It was blistering hot, though. In Yosemite Valley, it was 98 degrees. While they were with us, we hiked to Yosemite Falls and shared a last meal together (at least a last hydrated meal).  So nice!

I have decided to write a  daily journal for the John Muir Trail in a way to capture the data, musings and thoughts. I am going to put information under several headings: Just the Facts, The Daily Neet Beat, and Photo of the Day.

Just the Facts
From Happy Isles Trailhead to Sunrise Creek and back down to Little Yosemite Valley
Camp: Little Yosemite Valley
Miles: 10.4
Total Miles: 10.4
Elevation gain and loss: start at 4,004, up to junction with Sunrise Creek at 7,163. Back down to Little Yosemite Valley. Up:  3,059 feet, down: 1100 feet.
Weather :HOT and dry.
Route in yellow on the map.
Day 1 on the JMT highlighted in Yellow


Daily Neet Beat
Pretty easy day for day 1 on the John Muir Trail. Mom, Kirk and Kyle met us at the trailhead at 6am and we left by 6:30am. It was great to have a “sending off” party It has been so hot, even 6:30am didn’t seem early enough with the heat but we knew we didn’t have that far to go. It is pretty restrictive in Yosemite about where you have to camp, even backpacking. We were told we had to stay at the campground in Little Yosemite Valley because that is what our permit is for. That’s OK! I am always up for exploring once the tent is set up.

Off we went down the trail and we’re just getting to the climb up by Vernal Falls when we saw a bear!  It hadn’t even been a hour!! This is definitely a good sign for our hike. The bear was below the trail next to the river and ripping up logs looking for bugs of some kind. Ray got a good picture of it – it had a yellow tag in one ear and a white tag in another ear. Check out the picture below. Later we learned that this bear was a 2-year old female named “White 10” that liked to hang out in Yosemite Valley. The Park Service was glad to hear she was eating “natural food”.

“White 10” ripping logs at Vernal Falls

We got to the Little Yosemite Valley a little after 9am and set up our tent. Yep, pretty early for camp but we had only hiked 6.1 miles. We at least beat the heat and sun climbing up the switchbacks near Vernal and Nevada falls. Although we were backpacking, Little Yosemite Valley is more like a regular campground with restrooms, sites, a campground boundary and a ranger station nearby.  In the evening, park employees came around and made sure we had a permit and talked to us about the bears and how to make sure they don’t get any food from you. Reminds me of when I was a Park Ranger in Katmai National Park in AK giving very similar talks about how to behave around bears. What was interesting in Little Yosemite Valley is they have a group of roving park rangers who using radio collars and tracking devices. They  proactively try and keep bears out of the campground by scaring them with spray guns, loud noises and pepper shots. Despite their best effort, at least one bear has learned if he goes around and knocks bear canisters over, sometimes people haven’t latched them well and he can get food. The rangers are trying to recondition these bears to see the campground boundary is one which they shouldn’t cross..

First campsite in Little Yosemite Valley. All food has to be stored in the “bear box” in front of the tent which bears cannot get into.

Photo of the Day

A small western rattlesnake we saw on the trail


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