Mileage: 13 Elevation: 9600 feet
We leave the Backpacker Camp at 6:30 AM after a light breakfast. It is about .8 mile to the John Muir Trail Head. Even at that early hour the asphalted trail is teeming with Half Dome climbers. It will be a hot day and they want to complete their 16 mile round trip early. We hop in line choosing the Mist Trail access – but alas no mist, the drought has really effected this area. Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls are gorgeous.
Today we are trying a new breakfast plan: quick breakfast bar with water in the early morning, so we can get on the trail, and then a “second breakfast” of coffee and cereal with fruit and nuts a couple hours later. The important part of second breakfasts is the venue – there must be a view and a beam of sunshine in which to sit and enjoy it. Our second breakfast happened high above Yosemite Valley with open views, but this time in the shade! The day was already hot.
After 6 miles the JMT separates and we are on our own! After hiking up with crowds of crazy tourists (one gentleman has 2 GI Joe's sticking out of his backpack) we are grateful for the tranquility. As we hike we meet others heading down to Yosemite Valley and hear about water problems at Sunrise Camp which is our destination. We will need to set up a dry camp tonight…which is not a problem as long as you are prepared for it!
Today’s trek turns out to be our most challenging ever, with a huge elevation gain of 5600 feet in very hot weather. We manage to make it to the ridge above Sunrise by 5:30 PM, face planting in the first campsite we come to. The views to the east are grand! Heavenly camping! As we set up camp we hear bagpipes in the distance. Sunrise Sierra Camp, an expensive back country camp that is totally posh and catered, is nearby. No fly on our tent tonight! We happily eat dinner, clean up and roll into bed to watch the sunset, read and finally fall asleep in our cozy tent.