Day 44: Toulumne Meadows

June 7
Mileage 20
Mile 923 to mile 943

I sleep badly somehow and wake in a bad mood next to the lake. Eat breakfast- why is my breakfast so sugary? Hiking is fine, up over a little pass, it’s cold then warm, I’m listening to my music and I feel alright. I start to climb up Donahue pass and it’s ok, a little postholing, and then on the top I’m suddenly alone-  a confusing spread of soft snowfields and to the right, boulders.

I’ll take the boulders, I think. Duh.

Wrong answer.

An hour later I’m on top of a massive cliff, looking down on a valley far below and across the valley, the trail. How the fuck did this happen? My guthook app hasn’t been working all day and I didn’t know I was going in the wrong direction- for once I wish I had halfmile’s maps, at least cached on my phone. But I don’t, I didn’t, and here I am alone, on this cliff. Ah fuck, why am I always alone doing things like this on the sketchy passes.

Getting down the boulders is a real pain. Sitting on my butt, scooting, hopping down, picking my way over loose rock. Ending on sheer cliffs, turning the other direction. Increment by increment the valley grows closer. I slip a couple of times, catch myself. There’s too much air around me, the boulders are all at weird tippy angles. I hate this so much, it’s embarrasing. I just wish I wasn’t alone.

I manage not to break down and cry until I’m almost all the way down. And then I’m in the valley, shaking and hungry, plodding across the squishy ground to the trail. I’m behind almost everyone, I have no idea by how much. I drop down into Lyell Canyon and then the trail is flat, winding through a meadow with a clear aquamarine stream, all the way to Toulumne Meadows. I pass a bunch of JMT-ers, headed south.

“Did you see three guys? With beards?” I say.

“Yeah, about thirty minutes ago,” they say.

Thirty minutes times two because these hikers are moving towards me- so my friends are an hour ahead.

I’ll catch em.

A couple hours later I’m hungry and thirsty and I pass another group of JMT-ers.

“Three guys?” I say.

“Five minutes,” say the JMT-ers.

A half hour later-

“You see three guys?”

“About a hundred yards.”

I catch Twinkle and Guthrie, then Bearclaw catches up. Fuck that cliff I got stuck on. Fuck it!

At Toulumne Meadows we find Coughee and Woody and rally for the hitch to Yosemite Valley. A few wild rides later and we’re all there, eating pizza in the disneyland of nature parks. We wait for the tables around us to evacuate and then we snag their leftover pizza, eat that too. Someone even leaves a couple of salads, untouched. Vegetables, by god! At dusk we take the bus to the backpacker’s campground and sit around a battered picnic table in the dark, telling stories. The air here is hot and thick, and the plants are lush. A river flows nearby. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be a hundred degrees. We’re tourists!

Photos on instagram.

4 thoughts on “Day 44: Toulumne Meadows

  1. Just a reminder. It is June! Just finished reading your piece in the PCT communicator. (For the 2nd year in a row.) You are a great writer. Enjoy your style very much. You were put on earth to inspire! Rock on Carrot.

  2. What it took for you to get there must make this taste so sweet. I cheated. I flew, then drove there. But, my daughter is out there, about to reach Kennedy Meadows. I am in awe of you all.

  3. Amazing!!! I’ll be in Yosemite starting the JMT in two weeks….super excited. All of your posts about the Sierras have gotten me super stoked about hiking, and it will be great to get out. Thanks for being inspiring!

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