Tag Archives: John Muir Trail

Panorama Trail in Yosemite National Park

Every time we visit Yosemite, we tackle a big hike. This year, we had a couple of awesome hiking buddies! One of Jason’s best friends from high school, Jason, and his wife, Robyn, moved from Wisconsin to the Los Angeles area a few years ago. We were so happy when our friends were able to spend our first day in Yosemite with us!

Since Robyn and Jason had never visited Yosemite before, they left the plans for the day up to us. We suggested a hike, and we set out to find a new-to-us trail that would also give them a good glimpse of the magnificence of Yosemite. After a little research, we chose the 8-mile Panorama Trail from Glacier Point to the Valley floor.




The first highlight of the hike was coming upon a grouse. We assumed he was courting a lady (who we never saw), because he paid no attention to us. The Jasons were in awe of how close we could get to the bird, because they’re normally very flighty.


The first two miles of the hike were absolutely incredible! There were great views all around us – I guess they don’t call it the Panorama Trail for nothing. I soaked it all in. It was one of those instances of being completely in the moment and appreciating being right were I was, being with great people, and doing something that I love to do.





Eventually, we hit our first major landmark: Illilouette Fall. We didn’t get much of a look at the waterfall, but we enjoyed a short snack break along the banks of Illilouette Creek.


Little did we know that the “easy” part of the hike was over. The hike had been all downhill up to this point, but you have to hike up out of the creek valley. A series of steep switchbacks take you up 800 feet again. They are no joke! I definitely struggled, and I felt like a total wuss when another hiker ran – yes, ran – past us to catch back up with his group. Of course, the group was full of super fit, built men.

The climb seemed to go on forever, but we finally made it to the top and started going downhill again. But now, the downhill was the problem. It wasn’t the smooth, easy downhill of the first part of the hike. Our legs took a beating on the final stretch.

Since it was our friends’ first time to the park, we added the short trip to the top of Nevada Fall. For as difficult as the hike is whether hiking up along the Mist Trail, like we did the first year, or hiking down from Glacier Point, I never thought I would find myself at the top of Nevada Fall again. I savored the whole thing.



We hiked the John Muir Trail down to the Valley. I totally didn’t remember that stretch being so rough. Either I was way more fit three years ago (which isn’t out of the question) or it was so bad, I blocked it. That last couple of hours were excruciating.

Despite how bad my legs hurt, I loved every minute of it. I felt like I really accomplished something. And when you are surrounded by the beauty of Yosemite and you’re with people you love, it’s just the best thing ever.


Recap of Yosemite 2010, Days 3 and 4

Jason and I are currently enjoying our final full day in Yosemite National Park. Tomorrow, we’ll be up early to drive into Yosemite Valley for some shopping and pizza. Plus, I don’t think I could visit the park without visiting the Valley. Then, we’ll be headed south to Sequoia/Kings Canyon!

Onto the next installment of my Yosemite 2010 recap!


Day 3 – June 7, 2010

The day began with deer hanging out by our tent cabin…

Which was followed by our first bear! Note: That was NOT our tent cabin. I was religious about using our bear box properly.
Our First Bear!

A visit to the base of Yosemite Falls.
Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls

It was a little wet crossing the footbridge.
Yosemite Falls

We hiked to Mirror Lake.
Mirror Lake

Half Dome from a different vantage point.
Half Dome

We visited the Ahwahnee Hotel twice: Once for a photography workshop and again for an evening guided “stroll.”
The Ahwahnee Hotel

Evening Stroll


Day 4 – June 8, 2010

Day 4 was a biggie! A 7-mile hike up to Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Our “Adventure Hike.”
Let's Do This!

Our initial crew. The older couple dropped out about half a mile in.
Adventure Hike Crew

Just a little water.
Adventure Hike

Vernal Fall
Vernal Fall

View from the top of Vernal Fall. Along the left, you can make out the Mist Trail that we hiked up. “Mist” was a bit of an understatement.
Beauty at the Halfway Point

Next Stop: Nevada Fall.
Nevada Fall

Hiking with out guide and staring up in awe.

Nevada Fall

Getting Closer...

Made it to the top!
We Made It!!

Nevada Fall

The view from where we sat for lunch.
Our Lunch Lookout

What goes up must come down. Time to head back.
Nevada Fall

Half Dome

Happy Hikers

Our Adventure

All Done!


"Sunday" Hike: Yosemite Adventure Hike

Jason and I have been home since Thursday evening. The two of us, along with our two dogs, have spent the last few days recovering from our respective vacations. Unfortunately, a late start today meant no morning hike. However, Jason and I are off all this week and will try to get out a few times.

Since I didn’t have a regular Sunday hike to write about, I thought I’d recount our Yosemite Adventure Hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls.

Our hike technically began in Curry Village, where we were staying. It was about a 1 mile walk from Curry to the trailhead. It was still chilly, so I was nicely layered. Jason and I were also fully stocked with two bottles of water and Gatorade each, plus some high energy snacks.

We could have done this hike on our own, but opted to take a guided Adventure Hike instead. Initially, we were a group of four (plus our guide). Only about half a mile in, the older couple with us turned back. They were having a rough time even reaching the base of the first waterfall. Even though we could have done the hike on our own, I’m glad we didn’t. After reaching the top of the first waterfall, I wouldn’t have wanted to continue. The fact that we paid money to go with a guide pushed me forward, and I couldn’t be more glad about it.

Our first glimpse of Vernal Fall.

We didn’t take any pictures for the stretch of trail aptly named the Mist Trail. The Mist Trail winds through the soaking spray of the water rushing down from Vernal Fall. We put our jackets back on and put our cameras away in a futile attempt to stay as dry as possible. The Mist Trail consisted of a granite staircase made up of about 600 steps. It was slick and narrow, and my quads were screaming after only a couple of minutes. It was a hard but incredible experience, and the view from the top of Vernal Fall was well worth the pain.

This was the point at which, had we not been with a guide, I would have quit. However, we continued up to Nevada Fall. The trail wasn’t wet, but it was still challenging. My legs were not fully prepared for the demands I would be making of them.

I made it!!

We were rewarded with an amazing view from the top of Nevada Fall. We stopped here for a little lunch and to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

We traveled back down along the other side of the falls, on the John Muir Trail. It was wonderful to have different scenery for the second half of the journey. Even better – no stairs to climb!

Our guide Sarah with Jason and I.

Jason and I will never forget our Adventure Hike. Our guide, Sarah, was so nice and patient – Jason and I, not fully adjusted to the elevation, needed a few breaks going both up and back down. We pushed ourselves physically more than we ever have, and the whole experience has inspired me to hike even more than we have been. We saw incredible scenery and had fun the whole way!

We hiked a loop of the first four items on this list.

To commemorate our experience, Jason and I bought an Ansel Adams print of Vernal Fall. We had been saving our coins for the last 10 months in order to buy a print, and we were so excited to have the opportunity to buy one that would remind us of our amazing hike.

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