After such an extended break, it felt slightly strange to don a pack and pick up the hiking poles. Back into the park we again mixed with the throng of day visitors, many of who would join us for the first few miles of the John Muir Trail. From the valley floor, a concrete trail leads up to two big attractions, the Vernal and Nevada Falls. Interestingly, the initial part of the trail, while a pedestrian highway, was actually at a steeper grade then we were used to. Subject to the herds, we maneuvered our way through large groups of day hikers, somewhat distinctive with our large packs. Up and up the trail climbed towards the first falls. The last section manifested itself into a large series of stairs, another uncommon occurrence for us on the trail. With a slight traffic jam caused by a narrow cut across a rock face, we eventually made it to the top. Gorgeous views back towards the valley were the reward for such a short climb. Onwards we continued, following a well-trodden path to the top of the Nevada Falls. The height of this trail had thinned the numbers, but still many people strived for the top. Several more switchbacks brought us rapidly up in elevation, with yet more expansive views. Here we had lunch, savoring the fresh supplies we had brought on our short two-day stint. It was at this point we had to say goodbye to our trail angel, Carl, who had provided such a wonderful experience over the last couple of days. As he descended back down, we continued ever upwards. Immediately after we left the falls, the number of people on the trail diminished dramatically, with the only ones left being those hiking down from Half Dome. A gorgeous trail led past the Mercer River, where we spotted yet another Rattle Snake, as well as one other species of snake swimming in the river. Tame squirrels tried to steal our food supplies, which we vigorously defended. With my knee not up to scratch, Sole Catcher and Jo headed up to Half Dome, while Rattles and I took the JMT towards Tuolumne Meadows. A constant uphill gradient saw us climb further out the valley, and back into an altitude we were more accustomed to. After each break during the afternoon, we decided that the next camp would be better, as it would be a slightly shorter distance to the store the next day. This led us finally to a spot just shy of Sunrise Camp at Sunrise Creek, nestled in the trees next to a small stream. Here two families, who were hiking the short section between the valley bottom and the meadow at the top, joined us in camping nearby.
Miles hiked – 16