Sunday, June 26, 2016

Day 57 : Tuolumne Meadows

18 miles today
1708 miles to go

The sky is getting light in the east. I can see it from the door of my tent as I lay here oh so comfortably. I could lay here until the sun comes up, I only have fourteen miles to hike today. I roll over, but if I wait too long the mosquitos will be out when I get up. That does it for me. It's time to get up! I have breakfast in the twilight and packing in the rays of a new day. Donahue Pass is ahead. I start hiking, and I start climbing immediately. I camped at the bottom of the trail below the pass. There is water flowing here in large quantities. I have to cross the streams multiple times but each time I find boulders or logs that make it possible to do without getting my feet wet. More snow! The trail is covered. I lose the trail. I search and walk in its mostly likely direction. There it is. I do lose it again, I do the same thing. Climbing is slow, I know that if I can follow and stay on the trail I won't have to worry about getting cliffed out on the other side. So it's slow going. Then I see a couple of JMT hikers heading my way coming down from the pass. We say hi as we pass each other, but now my task is easier, just follow their footprints. At the top I meet four more JMT hikers. They are excited to be hiking the JMT and ask me all kinds of questions. I have only one question for them. “How much snow is on the north side?” They say about one fourth of it is snow. I'm not sure what that means but I suppose I'll find out.

Heading down from the pass is a lot like the other passes. Snow, slushy streams, the trail acts like a stream, water crosses the trail. The best part is that this is the last pass over eleven thousand feet. Everything north of here is lower. Even so, it's exhausting, my right knee isn't happy. It's not in open revolt, but I walk carefully and slowly to keep from injurying it. Down switchbacks and I can see Lyell canyon below me. More and more down, across streams, more switchbacks and I am standing on the canyons floor. A relatively flat walk from here to Tuolumne Meadows. It's uneventful except for the wet muddy stream crossings that seem to be every hundred feet or so. 

Tuolumne Meadows I follow the signs to the lodge. There is a shuttle stop here. I sit on the bench and read my map. There is a shuttle to the store. There is also a trail to the store. A shuttle is not for me, I get up and follow the trail. The store and the Post Office are the same place. The problem is it's Sunday. The Post Office is closed. I wonder if I'll still be able to get my box. My plan calls for me to hike another six miles to Glen Aulin. I don't really feel up to hiking any more today. 

The store has a section of just resupply boxes. They have put everyone's last name on the box in big black letters on a white background. I look through them and don't see my box. I'm disappointed, but also glad, I didn't want to hike any more today. I'm tired out, maybe dehydrated, I probably should start drinking more water. I walk to the backpacker camp and find a spot. I setup my tent and put my food in the bear box. Then I walk back to the store and look through the boxes again, instead of looking for my name I look for a box with purple tape. There it is behind those other boxes, sure enough there's my name, it was hidden. I'm glad they Kelli uses the purple tape and happy fruit stickers. I am able to show my ID and get my box even though the Post Office is technically closed, yay! Now I won't have to wait until nine am tomorrow. 

Back at my camp I sort through all my food and get it ready for packing in the morning. Then I decide to make dinner. I have a picnic table, it's so much easier to cook when you have a table. I whip up Great Northern Bean Stew with beef dices and top ramen noodles. For an appetizer I have a salami wrap with mayonnaise, using one of my packets of mayo I got at the bakery in Mammoth Lakes. For dessert I have caramel corn. For snack I get a bottle of Mug root beer and a small carton of Haagen Daz vanilla ice cream at the store and make a root beer float. I really feel full.

While at the store I see Mountain Man. We chat briefly and I learn that he and Gazelle are staying at the backpacker camp tonight. In fact Proton and a couple of other hikers I know are also here. I am hoping to join up with them for the next section which is supposed to have a couple of sketchy fords.

Bridgeport is only twenty two miles from the trailhead at Sonora Pass. My big plan is to hitchhike to it. My big plan seems like a lame plan now. What are the odds that someone is going to pick me up? It seems far fetched. Something that I can worry about if I want to. I don't want to worry about it. There is nothing I can do about it right now. Let's just see what happens when that day arrives. I have a bunch of creek crossings that I could worry about too. But I choose not to.

I get in my tent early, before the sun sets. I can hear other hikers chatting and laughing. I am too tired to be out standing around talking it up. Besides the mosquitoes are coming out. My tent is the only mosquito free zone that I have.

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