JMT Day 1 – Post Apocalyptic Yosemite


IMG_22087/25/2018 Happy Isles –> Little Yosemite Campground

I had planned on waking up early to get a head start since I was a little bit behind, but I ended up waking up at almost 7! Not the early start that I had hoped for, but at the same time, I didn’t really have that far to go. The girl that was trying to get a permit yesterday, Abbey, left me a really sweet note when she left for the permit office. I really hope she gets the permit and I’ll see her later!

It was a little bit difficult to find the trailhead for the JMT, but mostly just because there was nobody that I could ask questions to or get directions from. The whole park is empty, it’s actually a little bit eerie. Yesterday there were people everywhere and today I walked all the way to Happy Isles without really seeing anyone, except for a few car campers packing up the rest of their things and leaving. I feel like I am in some sort of post-apocalyptic Yosemite.

Smiling despite the smoke! 

I was trying to take a self-timed picture with the sign at the trailhead when I saw a family coming up the trail! They turned out to be real people and not just hallucinations, so I asked them to take a picture of me. They were not hiking the JMT but were just trying to take advantage of Yosemite before they got kicked out by the rangers. They wished me good luck on the trail and I headed on up.

Only 211 miles to go! Pshhh that’s nothing!

I opened my Spotify app and hit shuffle to help set the mood, and the first song that came on was the cupid shuffle. Why I even have that song downloaded is beyond me, but I cupid shuffled my way up that long, paved, uphill stretch.

Only you can prevent forest fires. Apparently. 

I took some pictures at the first waterfall I came across. The smoke hung low and made the mid-morning light turn an interesting coppery color as if the sun were setting. It was beautiful and sad at the same time. I wasn’t feeling too affected by the smoke but could see the effect that it was already having on this beautiful place.


Veiled by an entourage of small flies, I made my way up, passing by day hikers and stragglers that were heading back down into the park to leave. I didn’t find anyone else going my same way, and soon I was alone again. I approached Nevada Falls and watched the powerful water coursing over the edge of the cliff and down the mountain. It was beautiful and terrifying.

Me, featuring one of the flies on my face

I stopped for lunch just above the waterfall. I had a bit of trail mix, a power bar, a Clif bar and some candy. At home, I don’t eat that much sugar but for some reason, it just tastes so much better on the trail! I also ate some of my fly entourage, by accident. There were so many buzzing around my face at every moment, it was hard not to! I brought a head net for mosquitoes but was too lazy to pull it out. I’ll keep it handy tomorrow.

This is the face that happens when you add smoke + flies + uphill It was still awesome though! 

Around 3:30, I arrived at my first campsite. Physically, I felt great and could go another few miles but the permit said that I needed to spend my first night at this campsite. I set up camp and walked down to the nearby river to refill my water. There were a few people hanging out down by the river but I didn’t say anything to any of them, they seemed to be enjoying their own solitude and I didn’t really feel like talking anyway.


I set up camp and wandered around the campground. I found a group of hikers that were there to hike half dome the next day, they had gotten in just before the park closed and were excited to get to the top of half dome the following morning. I talked a little with them and then headed back to my own campsite. I listened to a podcast and watched an episode of The Office, then I made some dinner (pasta, quinoa, minestrone soup base, and tomato sauce) and got ready for bed. Because of my late start, and still being behind schedule, I knew I’d have to have an early start the next day.


I’m a little bit stressed out because of my delay, and because I had enough energy to keep going but “had to” stay at this campground, it is making me feel even more trapped and almost like I haven’t even started this trail at all. I think as the days go on I’ll feel more like how I imagined this trip to be, but I really hope I can shake this feeling soon.



Thanks for reading! See you tomorrow!



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Jensen says:

    I really like the way you write. It’s real and very funny!


    1. Pepper says:

      Thank you ♥️


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