Along the early stages of the Inca Trail I continued to find my thoughts not focused on the views and natural beauty around me, but contemplating the life of the people who lived in these tiny villages. I don’t think I can envision a life more different from my own.
I took this photo during our final mile on the trail. Over 220 miles hiked and 26 days after we set out into the wilderness near Mt Whitney. It was so strange hiking in the valley surrounded by thousands of families who had just left their cars 20 minutes ago-especially after seeing so few people over the previous month. They had no idea what we had just gone through and it was hilarious when people asked us where we came from and we told them. I can tell you that the pizza and beer we engulfed at Curry Village (I’ll never call it “half dome village”)after taking those packs off for the final time was probably the best meal of my life...It also made my stomach hurt like no other, but totally worth it. For anyone considering doing the JMT- any questions you have I’d love to answer to help you with planning or anything like that. Going back over this adventure with you guys has been super fun and makes me want to get back out there so bad. Thanks for bearing with me, I shared about 50 of the 2400 photos I took on the journey. It took longer than I expected, but hopefully I inspired at least one person out there to take on that adventure they have been contemplating...you won’t regret it ✌️
Trying to finally finish out this series, but here are a few more from Half Dome that last day on the JMT:
1.There’s no feeling quite like looking over the edge of The Visor. It’s over 4,000 vertical feet to the valley below. As you can see the smoke from nearby wildfires was really starting to fill into the valley by mid afternoon.
2.Another look at the cables from the bottom. Summer traffic on the cables can get pretty bad, but be patient and enjoy the view.
3.Me cresting the top of the cable route after a long wait. After you’ve spent a month in the wilderness you really don’t care about being a kook 😂
Hikers look like ants making their way up and down the legendary Half Dome cables. After hiking back down from clouds rest and eating a quick lunch at camp, we decided to go for an afternoon Half Dome hike. I’ve hiked Half Dome twice now, and the view wasn’t any less breathtaking the second time.
Reverence. The only way to describe this moment as we watched the sun illuminate Half Dome as it rose behind us. It was the perfect way to end the John Muir Trail and let it all sink in. I went into this trip expecting nothing more than a fun little adventure in the wilderness and an escape from the real world. And that’s basically what it was, but I think I got a bit more out of it than that. 26 days in the backcountry (especially somewhere as beautiful as the sierras) can really make a lasting impact. I’m still not 100% sure of everything I learned out there, but I do know that I came out of those mountains more humble than I went into them. (and brought back some decent photos too 😉)
A morning I'll never forget, day 25. For our last full day on the JMT we decided to hike Cloud's Rest for sunrise. We woke up at 4 am from our campsite along sunrise creek in Little Yosemite Valley and within 10 minutes we were on our way. We left our gear in our tents and only brought water and day packs. It felt like I was floating up the 3 mile 3,000 foot elevation gain without the extra 49 pounds on my back.
We made it up to the summit just in time to witness the sunrise with just a handful of other hikers. It was and still is one of the most incredible viewpoints I've ever seen in my life. You can day-hike Cloud's Rest from the Happy Isles campground in Yosemite Valley, but it's a tough 20 miles and 6,000 foot elevation gain. And although that would be insanely hard, something about taking 25 days and over 200 miles to get here made this moment so much more satisfying.
This photo is just a teaser, because the real view that makes this hike worth it is looking the other direction. More on that later...
Here's a series of some not-so-instagram worthy photos I wanted to share with you guys from the JMT. Photo by photo description below:
(1) Sapphire Lake, day 12. Camping overnight in the alpine is gorgeous, but it gets very cold at night.
(2) Yes that's ice on my backpack and this was mid-august. Like I said, it gets cold. ❄️
(3) Nick and Ryan atop Muir Hut.
(4) The inside of Muir Hut, for whoever was interested. We had an epic lunch inside.
(5) Our dirty stinky crew (me not pictured) after 17 days in the wilderness without showers.
(6) The crew atop silver pass. Not all passes have epic views, but all have their own charm and challenge.
(7) WARNING semi graphic image: You gotta pay to play on the JMT. Injuries affected all of us, and every step hurts after a while. This is the aftermath of a king blister I had been dealing with for about a week. Felt a lot better after I cut it open and drained it 😬
(8) Fire control and safety is paramount, but that being said, dry pine cones make pretty epic fire starters. Be smart and follow the rules. Depending on the zone you're in sometimes fires aren't allowed at certain elevations✌️.
(9) Nick Ogasa keeping an eye on the fire, night 17...campfires with the crew after a long day of hiking were some of my favorite memories on the trail.