JMT Day 0: Don’t Feed The Squirrels! Pack Out Your Trash!

7/24/2018 Mammoth –> Yosemite Valley

I woke up early and eager to go! I was worried about rain because of the hail storms the night before but had a dry night! I packed up camp and headed into Yosemite Valley. The drive was about two and a half hours, and I didn’t run into any crazy weather this time around.

There was smoke, however! The smoke was so heavy that I could hardly see the beautiful rock formations that Yosemite Valley is so famous for. There was an RV that was driving in front of me for a while with a picture of Yosemite Valley on it though, so I still felt like I had the full experience. XD

I got into Yosemite Village at about 9 am. I headed to the visitors center to pick up my permit. It took a little while for me to find, and I also stopped into the museum and looked around a little but eventually, I made it to the visitors center to pick up my permit. The ranger asked if I wanted to start in Tuolumne Meadow instead, because of the smoke. If I chose to stay in Yosemite Valley and start from Happy Isles, I wouldn’t be able to start today and would have to wait until tomorrow, but if I wanted to start in Tuolumne Meadows I’d be able to start today (and be about 4 days ahead of schedule, but also cut ~40 miles from the trail.

I decided to stay in the Valley and acclimate to the elevation, even though it would put me a day behind the schedule I had written for myself. I felt okay about it, it was a pretty flexible schedule and would allow me to explore the valley a little bit before I left, after all, I hadn’t been to Yosemite since I was around 10 years old!

Look how clean my hair and shirt are! Ah….memories

I headed to the backpackers camp, dropped off my stuff, parked my car and then went back to the backpackers camp and started to set up. By this time, I was getting a little bit hungry, so I ate the rest of my rice from the previous night. It was a lot better once all of the chilies were gone and I started to feel better about the food I would be eating for the rest of the trip.

As I was eating I realized that I only had a wooden spoon, and had somehow forgotten my plastic spoon and knife. I had only brought a wooden spoon, which may have been an ill-thought-out mountain woman plan. Honestly, the spoon worked fine when I was tired the night before but I really felt like it wouldn’t work for the rest of the trip. I headed to one of the gift shops and purchased a spoon, knife, and fork and felt even better about my eating future, until I got back to camp and found the other spoon, knife, and fork I had safely stored in the top pouch of my backpack, where I had been certain I “wouldn’t forget”. Oh well, at least I bought the ones that were only like 70 cents each.

After putting away my new utensils and my old ones, and saying hello to some people who had set up in the backpacker’s campground since I had been gone, I packed up a daypack and did a short loop trail to one of the many lakes in the Valley, Mirror Lake. I think it was about 2 miles total from the trailhead and counting the trail back to the campground. It was a really nice trail but it was pretty crowded at the lake. I managed to get some pictures that didn’t make it look so full, but it was very crowded and I had to explain to a woman why it wasn’t okay that she was hand feeding a squirrel some bits of a rice cake that she had brought. *facepalm* get me out of here.

It was so smoky, but in a way, it made it even more beautiful!


On the way back to the backpacker’s campground, I picked up all of the trash along the way and was really angry about all that I found. The part of the trail back to the campground was only about half a mile, (if even that), and there was all this trash along the trail! Trash cans are super available in the Valley and it made me really sad to see that people just didn’t care and felt like it was still okay to litter in such a beautiful place!

This makes me so sad!

I stopped at the bathroom to throw away the trash and took a selfie with the toilet, because who knows when I’ll see a toilet again? Could be 20 whole days! (Spoiler alert, it wasn’t).

I never thought I’d take a selfie with a toilet….but here we are.

I am definitely ready to get out of the valley, to the places where people will (hopefully) be more respectful of the natural beauty that surrounds them instead of throwing their trash anywhere they feel like.

When I got to the campsite, there was a note attached below a rock at the base of my tent, informing me (and everyone else in the campsite) that Yosemite Valley would be closing at 12pm the next day, and everyone had to leave by that time. Wow! Looks like I got my permit right on time. The note did cause some confusion though, would we still be able to hike out of the valley, or did we need to leave by vehicle? The group of hikers that were staying in the Backpackers campground for the night gathered and discussed it, and we decided that if we had to move our cars and actually evacuate, they would have said something. I figured I’d probably see a ranger around tomorrow, and I’ll ask them then.

There was one girl who didn’t have a permit and was going to try to go to the office first thing tomorrow morning to get one. I am not sure if there will be anyone there and if she will be able to get a permit, but she was really nice and fun to talk to so I hope she gets it and I am able to see her later on!

Thanks for reading, see you tomorrow!


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