Tales from Our Numismatic Travels October
It turns out getting a backcountry permit in Yosemite National Park and surround areas is much like winning the California Lottery.
We felt lucky when we managed to get a thru-hike permit starting at Tuolumne Meadows, which is at mile 24 of the JMT, so we would be skipping the Yosemite Valley portion.
The initial plan was for 6 of us to do the entire thru hike, and another 2 to join us on the first 36 miles until we got to Mammoth Lakes. Record snow levels, along with other life commitments, reduced the number of thru-hikers to 3.
It would have been nice if the entire group could have made it, but truthfully I would go it alone and still love it. Day one was planned to be a very easy one starting around noon with just 10 total miles and very little elevation gain.
Beautiful meadows, a meandering stream, and some good fishing was a great way to start an epic adventure. After a short steep climb up to Lyell Forks, we enjoyed a pristine campsite next to a roaring stream, but the mosquitos had us in bed early.
Day two - We got on the trail around 8: A small alpine lake with a wet crossing was a chilly wake up call, and wet feet would be unavoidable for the next few hours.
Merino Wool socks kept our wet feet warm along the flooded, steep trail. Looking back down on the valley we just ascended was a nice prize.
As we worked our way up, the high valley was filled with lots of snow, and we wondered how difficult the pass would be. We kept losing the trail under several feet of snow, but it wasn't very hard stay on course with a good map.
This was just part of the adventure which made it fun!
The final climb was obvious as we followed the tracks of previous hikers up the steep slope to the pass. Marmots guarded the high passes on small granite islands, and they were anything but shy.
The south side of Donahue Pass was covered with way more snow than we expected, which made the descent challenging. It was a bit slippery on the way down as JP demonstrates.
Postcard style views to the south showed us snowy climbs we would be making in the days to come. Thank goodness for this bridge or we might have gotten our feet wet. We took a break, ate our trail pizzas while drying our feet in the sun, and waited for our partner Thumper to catch up.
Here's Thumper crossing another bridge a few miles down the trail. We pushed up Island Pass, which didn't turn out to be much of a pass at all.
Then we were treated once again to two wonderful little alpine lakes. It's so amazing up here you almost start to take it for granted unless you slow down and take it all in. No wonder John Muir spent so much time wandering in these mountains!
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