Life has it's weird ways to send you messages, and sometimes I believe in fate for what it has created for me, and other times I believe in my own destiny for what I can achieve, but once in a while I do strange things to get out the cycle of what I considered both fate and destiny. Lots of things happened in last couple of month, mostly what I've considered crappy things, bad things, or things I just didn't really want to deal with. Relationship, jobs, friends, stress, health, trust, anything problems you can possibly think of as a human being, I've probably faced it at that time in it's worst form. And funny part is that they all happened together, like an unavoidable storm, it was what I considered the worst part of my life for a little bit. After a long jouney of being down, I've decided to take some actions and take my journey to yellowstone in June, I did it completely out of randomness and didn't really want a reason. And that's where I began my love for nature and wilderness, after climbing the Grand Teton, I took a hike at Whitney, and realized that the only way to see the entire beauty of the High Sierra is by doing the entire John Muir Trail.
After changing perspective, what I've considered to be worst part of my life has just became the best part of my life, a life without hassles and responsbilities, a life full of adventures and mysteries, a life that's worth living for. On the trail I endured through pain that I have on my hips, knees and swollen feet. I was testing my own will power, endurance, commitment and dedication. I was trying to find out who I really am, what I am built for, and why I am here. By the end of the trail I still couldn't answer those questions, but I got more than what I came here for, and I can be proudly say that I finished the entire John Muir Trail. It felt like that song by U2, "I have climbed the highest mountain. I have run through the fields. Only to be with you, but I still havn't found what I m looking for."
The beauty of the scenary was unmatchable by anything I've seen, I had felt deeper connection with people I met on the trail than any other social gathering since TED, and I started to feel how John Muir felt about the connection between God and Nature. During the trail I've got a taste of immortality, and after the trail my body just started to collapse, as I've headed to my massage therapist before going home, got bunch of herbs, and slowly rebuild my body through resting, different type of physical therapies and yoga. If you ask me "Was it worth it?", I'd say
List of equipment:
Osprey kestrel 58 Liter bag
North Face Cat's Meow 20 degree sleeping bag
North Face Simple Bivy
1L Water bottle and 2L water bag that can be carried in the backpack
Columbia Convertible pants
Columbia rain jacket and rain paints
Merell waterproof hiking boot
Casio Pathfinder watch (includes temperature, compass and altitude meter)
Solo Bear Canister
Nikon D90 with 18-105mm lense
Puma polyester T shirt
Cards and stuff
John Muir Map
2 Poles that I bought cuz I forgot my Leki ski poles at home
Roll of toilet paper
Sunblock stick/toothbrush/toothpaste/feet relaxing cream/Lip protector/
Day 0 Thursday 7/26/2012, started at Happy Isle, ended at Little Yosemite Valley
Drove to Yosemite Valley, changed my pass from Friday to Thursday around 5PM, parked my car and ate dinner and left trail parking around 6PM. Got to Little Yosemite Valley, met 2 guys at Nevada fall, Adam and Alex, and I ended up having campfire with them and slept in their camp. Got a really good shot of Half Dome over Nevada Fall. If I didn't get here tonight then I'd have to sleep in the car and rangers wouldn't really like that. I've lost the lottery for half dome over a week straight, and what I've found out is that if you are doing John Muir Trail, then you don't need to enter the lottery, they'll just add it to your permit for $5 extra.
Day 1 Friday 7/27/2012 ended at Sunset campground
Got up at 6:30AM, and headed to Half Dome at 7AM. I summited Half Dome and got back to the trail at 11AM, met Steve, Sophia and Lili on the way. at 5:30PM my feet was super tired so I decided to stay at Sunset, met a group that's doing John Muir Trail and they were willing to share their whisky, this is where I found out I am suppose to drop my food at Muir Trail Ranch and there is a resort in the middle of the hike called VVR.
Day 2 Saturday 7/28/2012 ended at Lyell Canyon right before Donahue Pass
Got up at 6:00AM and started heading to Tuolumne Meadows, went through Columbia Finger and Cathedral Peak, got there at around 11:30 and ate my first meal that's not in the wild, I've chatted with Ian King and he drove me through the area and told me how employees gets treated there. After leaving TM I just realized that I should've ate at least 3 of those grilled chicken. I took my first bath in the river in Lyell Canyon and washed my cloth, but I lost one of my convertible legs from my pants while washing it. I hiked to the lake right before Donahue's pass and decided to call it a night
Day 3 Sunday 7/29/2012 ended at Shadow Lake
Got up around 6, went through Donahue's pass and first entered Ansel Adams wilderness, just like Ian said, this place looks like Dr. Seuss, it was beautiful in such an odd way, where trees meets tiny rocks over the mountainside. After getting through Island Pass, I've realized Thousand Island Lake is a lot further than just 2.8 miles. The lake was beautiful afar, and you get to see an awesome view of Mt Ritter and Banner Peak. Upon reaching the lake I've found out it was too cold to jump in, I met 2 girls with a light pack and was curious where they hiked from, they started to give me attitude and it was really the last thing I needed after 4 days of sleeping in the wild. I decide to head my way out. Garnet Lake was another one that looked really pretty, and I've met a guy that looks like John Muir on the way. I thought Shadow Lake was Swimable considering that its 1000 feet lower than Thousand Island Lake, but upon reaching it I found out it was too cold. at 7PM my body was exhausted, although I wasn't suppose to camp at Shadow Lake but I was just too tired to go another up hill at this moment. Put on my bivy and slept for the night, in the middle of the night I got bit by a spider and that was end of the day.
Day 4. Monday 7/30/2012, ended at Duck Creek
Woke up at 5 and started out at 6, hiked to a wood bridge and met Scott, Kelly and Eileen. I was in Devil's postpile just earlier that month, so I really didn't want to see the same stuff agian. Luckily the JMT didn't really go through Devil's postpile trail so I got a view of Devil's Postpile from afar. When I got to Reds Meadow I've met Scott's team again, we ate a double burger and that tasted so good, I really wanted to have a second one but decided that I should be on my way. The shop didn't have much that I can restock, so I moved on. at Upper Crater Mdw I met Scott's team again, I told them I needed to get to VVR so I decided to finish the 5.5 stretch without water by end of the night. I got to DUck Creek by 10PM at night, lucky found a really nice camping ground and stayed there for the night. I did some star gazing and that was so relaxing. This is when I started to apprciate everything in life, even if it's just laying down in the sleeping bag.
Day 5, Tuesday 7/31/2012, ended at Pocket Meadow.
Got up at 6:30AM and went towards Tully's Hole, knowing I would not get to VVR until 10PM, I've decided to go a little slower. At Squaw Lake's entrance there was a stone chair, and that chair almost asks me to sit on it, so I sat on it for an hour and ate lunch. Squaw Lake has it's own beauty, it felt like mountains were gods protecting it and I was in middle of it facing them, I asked the mountains for blessing and went on to the SIlver Pass. I stopped at Pocket Meadow at around 6PM and started campfire for the first time since it's lower altitude, so I was happy.
Day 6, Wednesday 8/1/2012 ended at VVR.
This was a short day, went through mono creek trail to vermilion, the trail seemed a lot longer and the views just plainly sucked. VVR water shuttle was off since the lake was out of water. Over here I met the own Jim who was very helpful, Ravi from Stanford who carries a pressure cooker, and many other fellas. And I've see Scott's group as well as Steve arriving after me. I also met a guy name Richard Peterson who is doing high Sierras, suggested me to go to the top off seven gables and check out the bear lake. I had a double burger for lunch and steak for dinner, this was the fullest meal I had for the entire trip, and I only wish if I had more. It was such a luxary to take a foot bath in epsom salt water before dinner, and everybody here seemed to have an interesting story to tell. For the first time in a while I felt I am on a same journey as everybody else, being independent journey but at the same time everybody else is there on the same journey.
Day 7, Thursday 8/2/2012 ended at Marie Lake
got up at 7 and ate the PCT special at VVR. hiked out of bear creek and got to Marie Lake at about 9:30PM, camped and slept. Apart from the 3 people and 4 girls that came from VVR I came with on the shuttle, I didn't seem to see anybody else that day.
Day 8, Friday 8/3/2012 ended at the beginning of King's Canyon
The water from Marie Lake had little red things with atennas moving around, I decided not to drink that water. This is around 10000, mosquitos still seems out of control. I passed seldon pass in the morning and got to Muir Trail Ranch at about 12. I've met Ian and Erika from the Grand Canyon, gave me some really good hints on what to hike from there. Seems like I m gona be visiting Phantom Ranch, Cottonwood, and Indian Garden when I get there. I restocked and ate some really nice hiker barrel food. It took me a wile to find the hot spring but I stayed there for 2 hours and hiked out to King's Canyon, my knees started to hurt and I simply decided to camp down there. Over here I met Steve again.
Day 9, Saturday 8/4/2012 ended at Muir Hut
Weather in the mountain is always unpredictable, and I've faced that here today. I got up at 6 and found out Steve already left. The group I met here last night gave me hot water to brew tea. I had knee pain so I've decided to compress it with a piece of cloth. The cloud started forming so I asked the ranger I saw on the way whether I can stay in the Muir Hut, he told me it's not recommanded but no accidents has happened there since it was built. I went through Evolution Canynon with my knee pain, and this was one of the most beautiful place I've ever been to, Mt Spencer under sunlight where everything else was covered in cloud made it look like it was a blessing from god. The Sapphire Lake was so blue that it feels being enchanted. As I got to Muir Hut with intention of taking photos, thunder and lightning started. Knowing that there isn't any lightning rod in the hut, at this point my life is truely depdned on the nature. But another thought striked me, it feels like I am bound to be here by fate, that I am suppose to be in this hut on this particular day when there is a thunderstorm outside. With that in mind, I felt like if God(nature) wants me to die, there is simply nothing I can do. So there is no point of resisting, just submit to my fate for the day and accept whatever the outcome there is.
Day 10 Saturday 8/5/2012 ended at upper Palaside Lake
The morning felt good, after getting up at 5AM and saw Steve, he was impressed, and it seems that he has avoided the thunderstorm with his tarp. On the way to Mather pass I met 2 girls from San Francisco who are drying their stuff from the thunderstorm. My UV SteriRegina seem to have same shoes, same bag, same UV filter, same type of hat and sunglass, and she carries a 4 pound camera just like me, it seemed like that we have the same style, I wonder if she drives the same car and use a Macbook Air as well... My end goal was Mather Pass, but the Golden Staircase really drained me out. The Golden Staircase is worse than the 97 switchbacks on Whitney, since you have no idea when it's gona end. Got to Palaside Lake at around 8:30PM and I've found Steve's tarp, I was too tired so I just camped for the night.
Day 11 Sunday 8/6/2012 ended at end of Woods Creek
Went through Mather and Pinchot Pass, I've seen almost no one for the entire day except at Pinchot I saw Steve again, with 2 guys fly fishing. There are so many trouts around these lakes that it's possible just to catch them by hand. Another day of alone in wilderness, I ended my trip at Woods Creek by Castle Dome. There are designated camping areas with bear boxes. There was a bridge that only support 1 person, that was pretty cool. Over here I met Ting and Chuck, Chuck gave me 2 pounds worth of trail mix and showed me how military prepares it's food, which just need water for to heat up the food. Ting is the first Asian girl that I see that is soloing backcountry, she was doing Raes Lake loop, none the less very impressive to see an Asian girl soloing it. we did some campfire had some chitchat and went to sleep.
Day 12 Monday 8/7/2012 ended right before Forester Pass
Got up around 6 and headed out towards Rae Lakes, the Find Dome and the Painted Lady was such an impressive view that I really wish I could camp here next time. Due to the food shortage I had to keep going and finish the trail so I pushed on to Glen Pass. At Vidette Meadow the cloud started forming and I was walking away from the cloud, and apparently after a while the thunderstorm started but I was already out. I found a creek at around 11600 feet high and camped there for the night, it was cold and my knees, hips, feet were painful, I just pushed on and slept through. I covered everything in case of rain, at 3AM in the morning Thunderstorm was right above my head and this time I really have no where to hide. I just closed the bivy and test out it's water proof ability.
Day 13 Tuesday 8/8/2012 ended at Guitar Lake
Woke up around 5 in the morning to clean up everything, nothing got wet, which was kinda lucky. Hiked through Forrester Pass and saw Nathan for the second time at around 8AM. There is a good side view of Whitney from far, but the cloud and thunderstorm seems to happen right there as well, so instead of walking out of storm, I am walking into the storm this time. Passed through a ranger station where I got hot water to make my beef noddle ramen, I mixed in all the dehydrated vegetables with it, this was the first warm meal I had on the trail, and it tasted so good. Got to guitar lake around 6:30PM and met Christine, Nathan was there to lend me his water filter. So this is second time on the trail where I had more than 1L of water. Slept in a very cold night.
Day 14 Wednesday 8/9/2012
Got up at 5 and ascend to the Crest, this reminded me of the 97 switchbacks on the other side, but this side is just as bad if not worse. When I got to the Crest I sat down and ate my breakfast in a cold weather. Steve said this was easiest part of the trail since I am suppose to be at least 25 pounds lighter after putting my backpack off. But even after 14 days of accimlatation, I was still a little short of breath. But at least this time I did not have any headaches, didn't feel like puking. I just didn't really start sprinting like I thought I would. After got on top of Whitney I saw someone doing mountaineering trail and was heading for Mt. Muir. I decended and did the same. My hiking shoe didn't seem to have as good of a sticky rubber as approach shoes, and started to slip while I was trying chimney. I decided to give up for now. Got down to Whitney Portal at around 4PM, and ate the best burger that was kept me going for past 3 days. My journey was officialy over. It was nice to see a group of Mormons who did Whitney in one day trip, the more impressive part is that 15 out of 16 summited. They made me feel like I am out of shape again. They were nice enough to give me a ride to Lone Pine and back to Yosemite Valley with Christine the second day.