Little Yosemite Valley Campground to Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Camp – John Muir Trail, Day 2

  • Day2/13
  • Distance (miles)8.6

Today, we leave Little Yosemite Valley Campground for Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Camp, starting our journey at a leisurely pace around 9:00 am. The trail takes us through a forest that was devastated by a wildfire in 2013. The blackened and charred trees are a stark reminder of the power of nature, but we can already see new growth beginning to sprout. It’s fascinating to witness nature’s resiliency and how it can bounce back from even the most destructive events.

Hikers in a burned out forest on the John Muir Trail.
Charred trees are all that remain on this section of trail

As we trek along the winding path, we can’t help but look forward to the days ahead. We are eagerly anticipating exploring Tuolumne Meadows, a beautiful area that we’ve heard so much about. It’s exciting to think about the sights we’ll see and the memories we’ll make.

Tonight, we’ll camp under the stars at Sunrise Lakes, and we’re looking forward to getting a good night’s sleep. It’s the perfect opportunity to rest up and prepare for the adventures that await us on the JMT.

Three hikers on the JMT, hiking towards Sunrise Lakes campground.
Hiking the JMT from Little Yosemite Valley Campground

Making Camp & New Friends at Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Campground

The views around Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Campground are breathtaking, and we are reminded once again of why Yosemite is such a beloved destination. The meadows and forests around Sunrise Lakes are untouched by the wildfires, which is great news.

Even though the campground is full when we arrive, we manage to find a perfect spot overlooking the meadow with a fire ring and plenty of space for all of us. We take a moment to relax and soak in the landscape and scenery around us.

Don is his usual friendly self, making rounds around camp and introducing himself to our neighboring campers. One person he meets is Elijawa, a JMT thru-hiker who is just one day out from finishing his 23-day trek. Elijawa joins us at our campfire and shares stories from his adventure. We listen intently, asking questions and admiring his accomplishments.

It’s moments like these that make backpacking trips so special. We get to meet new people, share experiences, and create memories that last a lifetime. I feel grateful to have this opportunity to experience the beauty of the wilderness with so many good friends.

Friends gather around a campfire near a meadow at moonrise.
Elijawa (left) is near the end of his John Muir Trail thru-hike

Sleeping Under the Stars in Yosemite

As the sun sets, a full moon rises from behind the mountains. The sky turns to a magical mix of blue and purple before giving way to darkness. Yosemite natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring, and it is moments like these that make a JMT backpacking trip so special.

Full moon over mountains and forest behind Sunrise Lakes meadows.
Full moon rising over the meadow

While there are designated campsites at Sunrise Lakes High Sierra Campground, I chose to set up my tent cowboy-style on a boulder overlooking the meadow. One thing I have learned is that it pays to be adaptable and make the most of the terrain when it comes to setting up camp. Sleeping under the stars was an incredible experience, and I would highly recommend it to anyone planning a backpacking trip in Yosemite.

A sleeping bag and pad overlooking Sunrise Lakes meadows.
Cowboy camping above Sunrise Lakes meadows

My Backpacking Meal Plan

Having a well-planned meal is essential for a successful backpacking trip. For breakfast, I once again enjoyed a warm bowl of oatmeal with milk and blueberries. Oatmeal is a classic lightweight backpacking meal that is both filling and nutritious, making it an excellent choice for a long day on the trail.

For dinner, I switched it up with Pesto Parmesan noodles, another recipe by Andrew Skurka, along with some green tea to wash it down. It’s essential to have a variety of meals planned out for a backpacking trip, so you don’t get bored with eating the same food every day. That’s not just good advice, it’s also a bit of foreshadowing.

Looking Ahead to Tuolumne Meadows

On day 3 of our JMT backpacking trip, we will finally reach Tuolumne Meadows backpackers camp. While in town, Don and I will pick up our first resupply at the post office before we head out of Yosemite on day 4 to complete the rest of our JMT backpacking trip.

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