On July 4th, I hiked from Tuolumne Meadows to Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley on the John Muir Trail. Here are some excerpts from my journal.
Amtrak from San Francisco to Merced, YARTS to Tuolumne Meadows.
The Tioga Pass didn't re-open until until July 1st due to record snow this year. The ranger station in Tuolumne Meadows didn't have phones or internet service, so I had to get a walk-up wilderness permit.
I could have changed my plan, but I decided to take YARTS to Tuolumne Meadows anyway. As soon as I stepped off the bus, the realization that Tuolumne Meadows was still closed for the season set in when it everything was still boarded up for the winter and no one was around.
Hike ~10 miles to Upper Cathedral Lake (9,600 ft).
Early in the morning, a ranger woke me up to check my permit. I didn't have one yet, but I did have a PCT permit which happens to go through Tuolumne Meadows. We chatted about bears for a bit, and then I packed up and hiked over to the Tuolumne Meadows Ranger Station.
Walk-up permits aren't issued until 11:00 AM, so I waited with a few other hikers from the Bay Area, Orange County, and Ohio. I had some scheduling issues with the permits, but the ranger hooked me up since most of the reservations were expected to no-show due to the snow.
About 5 miles into my hike, the trail turned into heavy snow and day hikers were turning back. I thought about turning back when I lost the trail in the snow for 2 hours, but I just camped earlier at Upper Cathedral Lake with hopes to find the trail again in the morning.
Around midnight, I woke up to my tent shaking violently from what I later learned was a 2.9M earthquake only 15 miles away in Bridgeport, CA.
Hike ~10 miles to the John Muir Trail and Clouds Rest Trail junction.
The next morning I found my way back to the trail with Gaia GPS and continued toward the John Muir Trail and Clouds Rest Trail junction, where I camped last year and saw a wild bear. The views on the John Muir Trail were amazing, and I ended up camping at the same exact spot.
Hike ~10 miles to Yosemite Valley, YARTS to Merced and Amtrak to San Francisco.
The only plan was to get back to the valley in time to shower and get pizza before catching YARTS to Merced by 5:00 PM.
Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls, the two waterfalls on the popular Mist Trail, were both at peak flow from all the snowmelt.