The John Muir Trail - Part 1
A remote point to point 200 plus mile backpack spanning from Yosemite to the top of Mt Whitney (with another 11 miles from the top of Mt Whitney to the trailhead)
Meandering down the John Muir Trail at a relaxed but moderate pace knowing we were only hiking a few miles this day on mostly flat trail, we enjoyed the warm sun and first sounds of the wilderness welcoming us back. Hikers experience quite a different listening experience in the backcountry as they hike to the sounds of crickets and birds and wind soughing through the pine boughs overhead. Paralleling the Tuolumne River through Lyell Canyon, we had made it almost to the base of our first real climb this day when suddenly I realized the day’s sounds had changed dramatically….I no longer heard footsteps behind me! Turning quickly to see what had happened to Gary and expecting to see him bending down tying his shoelaces or something mundane like that, I was shocked when I saw the expression on his face. Actually, it was the lack of expression that most alarmed me. Gary stood stock still with a completely blank expression on his face. “Gary? ….Gary?.... GARY!” I tried in vain to get his attention and was starting to wonder if he was having a mini stroke or something. Finally he managed to croak out the words “we have no tent!” Seeing him come back to life was immeasurably comforting and I relaxed my tightened shoulders and back in relief. Oh good, he’s okay, some silly matter about equipment and not a medical emergency! I asked him what on earth he was talking about as I knew he carried the tent safe and sound in his pack. He always carried the tent. As he focused his attention back on me asking me if I had the tent, I realized there might be a problem here after all, albeit a minor one. I answered that I didn’t have the tent, but of course he did, right? As it turns out, as we had piled our equipment on the bed while packing, he had for some reason thought I grabbed the tent just as I thought he had. Gary was right, we were absolutely without a tent at the beginning of our three week, 200 mile trek on the John Muir Trail. Far enough from the car that neither of us wanted to turn around and go get it, nevertheless, we had to come up with some solution. Hiking for three weeks in the high Sierra backcountry far from any hotels, stores or housing with no shelter was extremely risky. One good rain and our soaked clothes in the lower temperatures of these higher elevations would most certainly ensure life threatening hypothermia would get us both! We both stood there staring at each other dumbfounded as the reality of our dangerous situation really started to sink in to me.
To Be Continued.....:)