Day 59 mile 931.2 – 951.1
Elevation: ascent 1,415 ft, descent 2,573 ft
Before going to bed last night I made a plan to try and get a night picture that I had envisioned in my head. There is almost a new moon which would allow me to get more stars and our campsite was looking up towards Donohue Pass covered in snow. Well nature called at 1:00 am and the sky was perfectly clear. The picture I got was exactly what I had been hoping for.
We made the decision to turn off the alarm and let Double Down sleep in as much as needed to help kick whatever it was she had. We both slept in until 7:00 and both of us were very glad to find that Double Down was feeling normal. We think she may have gotten a mild case of altitude sickness. This is weird because it’s not like we haven’t been at elevation but we know things like that can happen still. Nevertheless I was very happy she was back to her old self.
The Lyell Fork was still flowing this morning but not quite as much as last night with the colder temps resulting in less snow melt. There was even a layer of ice on the water. We got packed up and were heading downhill to Lyell Canyon by 8:15.
On the way down we ran into a handful of people out doing some part of the JMT. Again we find this slows us down a bit as they are all heading the opposite direction and they want to chat with us, inquiring about trail info.
Once we reached the valley floor we found ourselves walking along Lyell Fork for about 9 miles. This river is stunning as it winds its way through an expansive meadow. We both loved the quietness of the morning and seeing the contrast between the aqua clear water and the greens of the meadow. On top of that the trail was super soft and smooth allowing us to hike at a very comfortable pace.
We reached Tuolumne Meadows at about 1:00 and enjoyed the Tuolomne River while resting our legs and feet. With Yosemite now partially open we are running into many more day hikers and others out here enjoying the spectacular beauty this park has to offer.
After lunch we headed off towards Glen Aulin. We have both been there in the past, visiting the High Sierra Camp. We typically had taken the fisherman’s short cut but today we hiked the main trail which is part of the PCT. This trail follows the Tuolumne River towards the campground. Again we were treated with meadows that seemed to go on forever. We also ran across many more day hikers and some backpackers who were also heading to Glen Aulin. When we arrived there we took some time to admire Tuolumne Falls. This is when we also noticed at least 20 other people hanging out at the falls. We didn’t check but looks like the High Sierra Camp must be open for business. We have gotten used to the solitude out here and the crowds made our decision to move on another 3 miles an easy one.
We got some great pictures of Tuolumne Valley before heading off towards Benson Pass. The 3 mile climb wasn’t bad except for the abundance of blood sucking mosquitoes!! The tent site we planned to shoot for didn’t have water by it so we had to stop and grab the water we would need for the night and coffee the next morning. We found a stream about 2 miles before camp. The challenge was trying to collect the water without getting eaten alive. Double Down and I have been talking about when the mosquito bloom would happen and were hoping we might avoid some of it (also knowing there was little hope of that 🤪). So it seems like the mosquito hatch is upon us. Once the water was collected and we stuffed the additional weight into our packs we raced off up the trail with clouds of mosquitoes following in our path. The frustrating thing was the stream reappeared up the trail and could have resulted in a much shorter haul of that extra weight. Hard to know when these seasonal streams will be flowing.
We got to the tent site at about 6:00 and it seems that we were able to climb high enough to get away from the majority of those pesky insects. We have an incredible view with Cathedral Peaks off in the distance. Dinner was Glacier Pasta (quite fitting for Yosemite) which filled our bellies and hopefully will energize us for another big day tomorrow.
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