By Ranger Haley Bercot
On March 19th, Ranger Jed Friedman and I set out to hike the John Muir Trail from Happy Isles to Nevada Fall. We began our hike at 8am and brought the following supplies:
traction devices for shoes and an ice axe
shovel and hand saw (for minor trail maintenance)
trash bags (for our trash and trash found along the way)
first aid kit, radio, map, headlamps
The first two miles of trail, from Happy Isles to the lower switchbacks below Clark Point, were entirely snow free; however, snow and ice covered the shaded upper switchbacks. In the morning, the snow was hard packed and slick. We passed this section by kicking in steps, thankful for our traction devices and ice axe. Both of these tools came in handy for the descent as well. We highly recommend visitors prepare themselves for these conditions with waterproof boots, traction devices for shoes, and trekking poles as a bare minimum of required equipment.
Halfway through the snowy traverse, we came across human feces in the middle of the trail. Ranger Jed carried the waste to a snowfree patch of dirt a good distance from trail. Then, he buried it in a hole 10 inches deep. Please follow Leave No Trace principles, even in winter, when you must dig through the snow and down into the soil to deposit your excrement.
From Clark Point, Ranger Jed and I hiked up toward Nevada Fall on the closed segment of trail. Every winter, the "Ice Cut" section of the John Muir Trail is closed due to the high risk of avalanche both above and below the trail and the risk of fatal falls off the sheer cliff.