2003 John Muir Trail Backpack

This is a belated (written July 3rd 2005) description of our 2003 John Muir Trail hike. As it has been two years since the trip it's not as fresh in my mind as I would wish, but here goes!

We had hiked the Muir Trail five times previously, but were always forced to cut our hikes short for one reason or another. So in July of 2003 we determined it was time for another try at completing the entire trail at one go. Unfortunately our son John was unable to go with us at this time. We carefully assembled all our gear, including a new GVP Gear G-5 backpack for me (Dennis) and a couple of home made can stoves, and mailed a food package to Vermillion Valley Resort. About the 20th of July we arrrived at Tuolumne Meadows to start our hike, where we found out that it had been raining for a couple of weeks and more was expected. Regardless, we got our permit and camped that night at the backpacker's site in the public campground. I was using a floorless GoLite tarp tent and about 3:00 AM I was awakened by hundreds of red ants crawling all over me and biting me! Needless to say I slept poorly that night. The next morning we began our adventure on the Muir Trail by catching the shuttle bus to our trailhead where we started hiking.

We hiked up the Lyle Fork of the Tuolumne River to Lower Lyle Base Camp where we found the first stream crossing to be quite high. After finding a way across we began our climb to Upper Lyle Base Camp but a short ways up the climb we came to what I considered an unsafe water crossing due to very high water and no safe way around it. After discussing  the likelyhood of worse conditions ahead due to the recent heavy rains, we reluctantly decided to return home and restart our trip after a week or so. We started down towards Tuolumne Meadows immediately but as it was afternoon already, we arrived back at the campground (after getting ourselves temporaraly lost) after dark. Luckily, a camper offered to share his space with us so we didn't have to go all the way to the backpacker's site. The next morning we took the shuttle bus to Yosemite Valley and then the Yarts bus home.

For several reasons, including weather, we restarted our trip on the 31st of August. In the meantime I determined that sleeping on the ground with red ants was not my favorite thing, so Llona and I decided to use Hennessy hammocks this time around. This time John was able to come with us and also chose to carry a hammock - a Bliss. On this occasion we chose to ride Amtrack to Fresno where we caught the Yarts bus to Yosemite Valley and there got our permit (after the usual long wait and "Ranger Lecture about Bears and Bear Canisters", etc.). We then took the shuttle bus to Tuolomne Meadows and, after eating at the cafe, set up camp in the backpacker's site at the campground.


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