Eddie, Tracy, and I made it to Oakhurst at about midnight on Monday night. It was a long drive, but we got here without any trouble. We slept great, had breakfast at the hotel, and headed to the park around 10am to pick up our permit at Wawona. The “official” start of the John Muir Trail is Happy Isles, but after trying every day nearly six months ago—faxing and re-faxing our application for the wilderness permit required for all overnight stays in the park—I managed only to get us a permit to start our hike at Lyell Canyon, which is 33 miles from the start—near Tuolumne Meadows. However, in an interesting twist, the ranger told us this morning that the walk-in permits had just been released, and that the ranger at the Happy Isles station had 2 spots open. This is ultimately good news, since it eliminates that potential “asterisk” from our final report (assuming we make it to the end). The tough part is that it adds at least a full day to the trip, which translates into making sure we have another day’s worth of food (which has to fit into a bear canister), not to mention that it also presents us with an additional 7,000 feet of climbing and 50k of trail. But as Eddie said when the ranger made us our offer we couldn’t refuse, “How could we say no? We came here to hike the JMT and the ranger just gave us more JMT.” I have pasted a link to the entire trail below–we are now starting at the red dot at Happy Isles, instead of the black dot at Tuolumne Meadows. We will still plan to stick to our original schedule, but will arrive a day late to Muir Ranch and will give up our “free” day.
Tomorrow morning we will head out at 5:30 a.m. Tracy will hike in with us to Nevada Falls to “drop us off,” then she will head back out, take Eddie’s van to Walnut Creek, and spend the rest of the week in San Francisco. She will add a guest post here and there as she hears from us, but this will be my last entry until Labor Day weekend, when we hope to emerge victorious and with lots of great pictures. Check the SPOT link above for our coordinates over the next couple of weeks, with the caveat that Eddie’s satellite tracking device was misbehaving today, so don’t worry if it looks as though we haven’t checked in or made progress–in fact, Eddie is on the phone with SPOT right now giving them the business. Have a great rest-of-August. Off we go.