JMT Day -1: Hitchhikers, bears & chilies oh my!

Hello! Welcome to my daily JMT journal! I’ll be posting one post per day of my trip, so it will be like you get to hike along with me! I am starting with the day before the day before my hike, so it is day negative 1. (I had some complications with the start date, you’ll see.)

7/23/2018 Home –> Mammoth

Today is the day! I woke up too early (around 4) and decided to go back to sleep and get rest/enjoy my bed while I still could. I woke up again around 8 and after gathering and double checking the last of my gear and supplies, I packed it all into my car and grabbed my bearded dragon. I drove him to the awesome reptile boarding place near me and kissed him goodbye, hoping he wouldn’t think I was abandoning him.

Ready and Waiting backpack
So clean and nice looking! Not for long!
Bye bye, little friend! I’ll be back in 20 days! *kisses*

I started driving and really got going around 11 am. My main mission for the day was to drop off my resupply at Red’s Meadow, which closed at 7pm. I allowed myself one stop so I could make it in time, and although I planned on the stop being a bathroom stop, it ended up being a Cheez-it stop. I realized that this would probably be the last chance I’d have to have Cheez-its in a while, so I stopped at a small convenience store and stocked up. I also realized that I had forgotten to bring a drinking cup, so I bought a cool Star Wars one, which was also pretty lightweight, but I mostly chose it because…Star Wars.

An absolute pre-thru-hike essential

As I headed away from the Bay Area (where I live) and out towards Yosemite, I watched the temperature climb, getting as high as 102! Wow! I was really starting to rethink the hiking pants I brought, and feeling glad that I brought some shorts along. By the time I had entered Yosemite, the smoke had gotten thicker, and everything was covered in a heavy orange glow. I was just going to be driving through the Tuolumne area in order to get to Mammoth, so I didn’t get too close to the valley, but could already see the smoke from where I was. As I drove closer to Mammoth and made my way through Tuolumne, the temperature outside started falling and kept falling! About 30 minutes after driving through the 102-degree weather, I was suddenly driving in 45-degree weather, and it had started to rain! “This is insane!” I thought, and then the rain started to get harder, and bigger drops, and before long, it was hailing! Hard! With hail piling up at the sides of my windshield, I took a quick video, this was insane. 15 minutes ago, I was driving by a busy lake with kids in their swimsuits, happily splashing in the summer heat.

Starting to see the smoke and haziness on the horizon
and a few minutes later — what the HAIL! 

I arrived at Mammoth Mountian Adventure Center at 5:25 pm and hopped on the Shuttle up to Red’s Meadow. There were a few PCT hikers on the bus on the way up, coming back from a zero-day in Mammoth, looking fresh and clean. I was chatting with them about my own hike when suddenly, the bus driver stopped the bus and announced that there was a baby bear on the hill next to us!

Everyone crowded over to my side of the bus to get a look. I saw the “baby” bear and felt the blood drain from my face. I thought, “THAT’S the BABY??? Its HUGE!” then, to my relief, the driver said “Well, here the mama. I guess the baby bear is hiding now” PHEW. I had heard that the bears weren’t much to worry about, but I decided that seeing a bear from behind a glass bus window was enough bear sighting for me! (fingers crossed). The bear ambled off into the bushes and the bus started up again.

Bear with me, I know it is a bit hard to see, but there’s Mama!

We reached Red’s Meadow and as soon as we pulled in, I gasped! I had been here before! No, not in some dream or something like that, I had gone on a church trip in High School and gone on a day hike that seemed to last forever and we ended up at a magical place in the middle of nowhere (it seemed) that had cookies and ice cream! This was the place! As a group, we had gone down to rainbow falls, where one of my friends lost my water shoe by dropping it into the river and letting it get carried away by the current. I decided to skip Rainbow Falls this time around.

I dropped off my resupply and overheard a PCT hiker telling the staff how tired she was after an 18-mile day and how excited she was to take a zero-day in Mammoth. She didn’t have exact change for the shuttle down to Mammoth but I did, so I helped out and broke her $20. We sat near each other and talked about her PCT experience and how I was looking forward to the JMT. She told me that she had never really been hiking before but decided to try the PCT and see how far she could get, she was going Northbound and had summitted Mt. Whitney on the 4th of July.

The shuttle driver let her know that she would have to wait about an hour for the next shuttle that would take her into the town of Mammoth, and to the Hostel where she would be spending the night because he was only going as far as the Mammoth Adventure Center. She looked absolutely crushed by this news, and I could tell the only thing she wanted at the moment was a real bed and a shower.

I offered to drive her from the adventure center to her hostel and she accepted but warned me that she probably smelled pretty bad. I said I didn’t mind, and I totally get it! She told me that her trail name was Hitch since hitching a ride always seemed to come easy to her, a great superpower to have if you ask me!


I dropped her off and wished her well, and headed to my own campsite for the night. I had found 4 free campsites near Mammoth but all were first come first served, so I decided to hope for some “trail magic” and see what I could find.

The first campsite I checked out was Big Springs Campground, no vacancies.


I drove about 10 more minutes down the road to Glass Creek Campground and voila! a big beautiful free spot next to a couple with a cute dog! Score! I set up camp and ate dinner. I chose my Mexican rice and tuna dish, in which I had added some chili peppers for a little kick. Well, I hadn’t tried the chilies beforehand and they were WAYYYY hot, with tears streaming down my face and snot dripping from my nose, I picked out the extra chilies to stop the pain from spreading. Due to the number of Cheez-its I had eaten that day (almost the whole box). I couldn’t even finish the meal so I packed it back into my bear can and figured I could finish it for breakfast in the morning.

One of the spicy death chili peppers

I took a few pictures as the sun was setting and settled into my sleeping bag to sleep for the night, excited for my trip and to see what the next day would hold!

Ahhh sunset! The beauty is already starting! 


Here is a video of me freaking out because of the hail! Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow!






4 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Jensen says:

    Loved it & cant wait til tomorrow!


  2. says:

    Funny girl!

    I count it all joy! Sent from my iPhone



  3. Cre8tvnrg says:

    Awwa you’re making me miss Mammoth! Funny thing is one of the reasons why I move back from Mammoth to home was because of you LOL 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Karen Jensen says:

    This answers some questions we all had about the evacuation from Happy Isles. Funny about the Picture on the RV.

    Liked by 1 person

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