Day 4, August 16, 2014

It’s probably 5:00 AM. I have already been up, had a cup of tea, ate breakfast (oatmeal and freeze-dried bananas and apples–yum!), packed up my sleeping bag and pads (very comfy: a combination of a Thermarest waffle pad and an ultralight supposedly self-inflating pad), and visited the last flush toilet around for many a mile (after this, we need to start burying our poop and carrying out all waste paper, which may be more information than you want to have, but I thought it was interesting). Betty is still asleep. I have water on for her coffee. Am anxious to start the trail today because it is such a long and arduous climb up Donahue Pass (11,056’). The Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne is incredibly beautiful here, with crystalline water sluicing over great buff-colored slabs of granite. Lembert Dome, rising just past the river, is a smooth granite cap. The trail is calling. Betty! Get up!!!

Day 4, continued:

Setting off up Lyell Canyon

Setting off up Lyell Canyon

We got going around 7:15 AM. First half of the hike (but not half of the day) was through the very beautiful Lyell Canyon. No camping for 4 miles from Tuolumne Meadows, and with good reason. People would trash the place.The Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne winds in serpentine style through what was once a glacier-formed lake which then silted in to create a lovely, level meadow. The most inviting swimming holes, lined with smooth granite, beckoned to me, but the snow-melt is a bit too cold, and we had to put in miles.

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What took a slice out of this? Didn’t they know it was poisonous?

At lunch, I spied a coyote across the river. He/she came right out onto the rocks across the water from me while Betty was getting her camera. She may have gotten some good pics. Later, we watched the same coyote hunting in a meadow, but didn’t see it catch anything.

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Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River. On a hotter day, I might have gone for total immersion in this most beautiful river. This day, I just splashed around and rinsed off the trail sweat and dust.

The remnants of the largest glacier visible from the JMT. A few years ago, it was downgraded from "glacier" to "snowfield."

The remnants of the largest glacier visible from the JMT. Last year, it was downgraded from “glacier” to “permanent snowfield.” Not enough mass to move downhill.

At the top of Donahue Pass. We begin to realize that these passes may not have signs telling you that you've made it to the top. This sign marks the boundary between Yosemite and the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

At the top of Donahue Pass. We begin to realize that these passes may not have signs telling you that you’ve made it to the top. This sign marks the boundary between Yosemite and the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

Hiked up over Donahue Pass today. It was spectacular scenically, but nearly did me in… or was it the salmon I had for lunch? A bit of both, I think. Saw a garter snake, mule deer, more marmots, and maybe some pikas. I don’t know what they look like.

Betty stops to photograph some perfect flowers on the way up to Donahue Pass.

Betty stops to photograph some perfect flowers on the way up to Donahue Pass.

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Talk about cold water! I should have submerged myself in the comparatively “warm” waters in the canyon. I LOVE that glacier-melt aquamarine tint.

Beautiful alpenglow. Nobody around here, in comparison to the Yosemite side of the Pass. Very busy on the trail today. Too many people. We hiked from 8,700′ up to Donahue Pass, at 11,056′, traveling 14.8 miles. Our biggest day yet!

Every night, when I crawl into my sleeping bag, I turn on my headlamp and try to read a bit of John Muir’s “The Mountains of California.” I read most of this book as a teenager, but I must confess the actual content of it didn’t stick with me very well over the years. I feel as if I’ve never read it before. I love his astute observations, and his overflowing love for the “Range of Light.”

Betty and her tent, far side of Donahue Pass.

Betty, the “kitchen,”  and her tent, far side of Donahue Pass.

5 thoughts on “Day 4, August 16, 2014

  1. Getting these blog posts has become one of the highlights of my day! It’s so nice of you to share your experiences in this beautiful area with everyone.

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  2. Hey, I was just antsy, Betty. You will notice I was very, very quiet for those first 2 hours of wakefulness. I did think that maybe if I shouted with my pen into my journal, you’d wake up, though.

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  3. I didn’t know that those red mushrooms with the white spots grew here in CA! I remember those from when I was a little girl in Germany and being warned not to even touch them because of how poisonous they were.

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