The Legend of OneBoot: Days 0 and 1 on the John Muir Trail

It was quite a pleasant day, that day of June 22nd, 2016. I had just picked up my backcountry permit in the valley and was dropped off at the backpacker’s campground by my friend. When I picked up my permit, the ranger gave me the whole lecture on bear cans and told me to use my bear description report sheet when a bear gets into my pack to eat my sunscreen and bug lotion, which didn’t currently fit in my canister. I laughed to myself sheepishly, but figured I’d be OK. Once I got to camp, I managed to get a spot with my tent set up fairly quickly.

Then, I decided to go back over by the permit station to fill up on caffeinated soda and charge my cell phone / backup batteries before hitting the wilderness. While sitting around for lunch, this family came up, asking if they could share the table. “Sure!” I remarked.

They cracked out their lunch and offered me numerous things, like fresh watermelon, after I told them about the 200+ mile journey I was about to embark upon. Then, one of the ladies suggested I listen to a song called “Two Little Feet” by Greg Brown before I start. They were so nice and encouraging! My journey was off to a fantastic start.

Then, these two backpackers I had met while hiking the Four Mile Trail / Panorama Trail loop the day before, showed up to join in the fun. There were good vibes all around.

Heading back to camp after calling family and friends, I ran into this couple that were starting a JMT training trip the next day. We got to talking about gear and coffee, and they offered to give me some Starbucks Via if I ran into them the next morning. Wow! I didn’t pack coffee, so I was pretty stoked. Some of the nicest people in the world are found on the trail.

The guy I was camping next to wasn’t the friendliest and had been drinking a lot, but I moved on and enjoyed my evening, cooking dinner and filtering water for the first time. It was quite relaxing, but the mosquitoes were relentless! I had dinner and went back to camp. As my night came to a close, a guy ending his trip gave me the rest of his hard salami (if you laughed, get your head out of the gutter!) Small gestures mean the world sometimes!

After a great night of sleep, I packed everything up, and set off. The couple from the night before had already packed up their coffee, but came up later with a Starbucks Via packet. How sweet!

As I started up the trail, I was quite apprehensive. The day hike I did two days before came down into the valley via the John Muir Trail, and I was dying / having an emotional breakdown in the heat and paved switchbacks during that hike. Before i knew it, however, I was charging up the trail, pacing myself like a champ!

At the sink / water fountain near the JMT / Mist Trail junction, I stopped for breakfast. The couple who gave me the coffee saw me and were surprised at how fast I was charging up! Maybe the day hike the day before actually helped!

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Looking Over the Falls at my First Break
Continuing on, the views kept getting more and more spectacular. The granite formations, waterfalls, and dripping walls were amazingly energizing. I took a break before Nevada Fall with a couple women who were doing the JMT as well. A mule pack train passed, and the packer told me to hide my orange helmet so I wouldn’t startle one of the mules. Good call.

Nevada Fall!
Nevada Fall and Liberty Cap!
Shortly after, we crossed the bridge above Nevada Fall. Many people were resting there, and the energy was palpable. At that point, I knew I was close to Little Yosemite Valley, my first campsite.

At the Bridge Crossing Nevada Fall
At the Bridge Crossing Nevada Fall
Moseying up the trail to camp, I ran into the guy who gave me the coffee that morning again. We made our farewells and I was stoked to see actual restrooms in a wooden cabin. After dropping off my pack and setting up my tent, I had lunch and attempted to hike up Liberty Cap. I left the trail, started my ascent and was feeling in the zone. Soon after, however, the hillside was covered in thorny brush and the cairns became difficult to follow. It was pretty hot out and I was in sandals to let my feet air out, so I decided to turn around instead of risk getting in over my head.

Heading Up Liberty Cap
Heading Up Liberty Cap
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Beautiful Rock Formations as I Headed Up Liberty Cap!
This was my first itinerary modification. I was super ambitious, thinking I’d be climbing up peaks, doing cross-country travel in addition to walking the strenuous trail. I felt like i let myself down, but it was better to err on the side of caution.

I got lost going back to the trail to get back to camp and panicked, but I eventually found my way and stopped by the river for some water.

Getting back to camp, I awkwardly introduced myself to some neighbors, halfway hoping one of the girls would take interest in me. I mean, a hiking partner would be amazing, right? Nothing materialized but pleasantries. However, it was nice to at least push myself out of my bubble.

I talked with a few people, most weren’t doing the JMT, but they were supportive of my journey. Oftentimes, people asked me why I brought a helmet. Most people thought I’d be climbing, but the helmet was just in case the snow or ice got too hairy.

I felt like a fake every time I was asked about the helmet. Like people thought I was carrying it for attention. I knew my true intentions, though, so whatever anyone else thought is on them!

I perched myself along the river by camp to get some dinner and water for the next day. The mosquitoes were bad, but the river was peaceful 🙂

To close out the evening, I had dinner, chatted with a few more people and went to bed. The day was a success, and I had a short day the next day. All was right with the world!

Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow along on my journey to find out how I got the trail name “OneBoot”! Remember, take a hike and spice up your life!

-Doug

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4 Comments

  1. August 18, 2016
    Reply

    Sounds like a pretty good start to your big hike. I’m looking forward to reading about the rest of it.

    • Doug Busack
      August 18, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you! I’ll be adding more soon!

  2. Linda Mills
    August 21, 2016
    Reply

    I love reading about your hiking adventures!! Beautiful photos!
    I admire your spirit and courage!
    Looking forward to reading about your future journeys! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Doug Busack
      August 22, 2016
      Reply

      Thank you Linda for your support!

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