Happy Isles to Cloud’s Rest Junction
4,035 ft – 7,190 ft (+ 3,155 ft) – 6.5 miles
Free Maps Online – Day 1 – Maps 18 and 17 – these are not perfect, nor the maps we used, but they are one of the better, free, online options.
We used Tom Harrison’s Map Pack.
We left our Yosemite Valley base camp (America’s Best Value Inn in Oakhurst CA) loaded with our gear and sandwiches from Von’s for dinner, and drove to Tuolumne Meadows to drop off a box of supplies. It turns out that this was an unnecessary trip as one can do a full resupply from Tuolumne easily. But we did not know that and i had made 9 tasty easy cook meals at home and wanted to enjoy them on the trail. With a resupply so close to the start of the trail (about 24 miles in) it was too tempting to leave ourselves a box there and only hike with 3 nights worth of food.
Along the way, we picked up a hiker, Eli, hitching to Tuolumne. We had time and space in the car and wanted to help as well as stock up some hitchhiking karma for later in the journey.
After dropping the box and exploring the store, we returned to Yosemite Valley, carefully moved all items with scent from the car to the bear box and began our journey in earnest at 1 PM.
The beginning of the hike is lovely, but less than a wilderness experience. The first few miles of the trail are paved and there are tons of day hikers from all over the world, with varying degrees of knowledge about trail etiquette. It is quite a steep haul from the valley to the top of Nevada Falls, and we were grateful to have as little food as we did.
This was the beginning of my quest to discover better water carrying practices for distance hiking. On day hikes, and overnight trips with my dog, i have usually carried 5 liters at a time – which is about 10 pounds. I knew i could not do that on this trip. I started with 3 liters, having noted the last point to re-supply by treated tap water, and the likely stream crossings.
At the top of Vernal Falls, i remembered something i read a long time ago and found a small pebble to suck on. Sucking on a small stone helps keep the saliva flowing in your mouth and makes me feel less of a need to drink – particularly on ascents. I did this every day for the rest of the trip, hiked with a rock in my mouth.
The crowds thinned out a good deal at the top of Nevada Falls and once we passed Little Yosemite Valley, we were mostly alone. We found a nice camp past the Cloud’s Rest Trail junction on the top of a hill and had some nice views.
There were loads of deer in the area. I saw at least 15 from our camp and heard more. 3 or four came within 5 feet of me and we stood looking at each other for a while before they moved on.
Sleep was quick in coming for us both. It had been a good day, the hike was truly begun, and we would not encounter crowds like that again – not even at Mt. Whitney.
Stay tuned for Day 2…