PCT Day 54: Sierra Day 13: Tuolumne Meadows

Miles Hiked: 24

PCT Mileage: 942.5

I really wanted to make sure I got to Tuolumne early today. I woke up at 3am and started hiking by 3:30am. Since I set up camp at 6pm last night I felt pretty well rested from the day before sleep wise but still really tired body wise. It was a full moon and I was looking forward to hiking under it. The morning was pretty much all uphill until the top of Donohue Pass which I got to around 8:30am. Despite it being a full moon, I could hardly see without my headlamp because the trail stayed in a forest for a while and there were a lot of shadows. My headlamp ended up dying within the first hour and after that it was really hard to make any quick progress. I was using my phone flashlight but I realized it was draining my phone battery really fast so I tried to get away without it. Then I remembered I had a colorful light that Fry gave me so I took it out to use. It barely cast any light but it was better than nothing. When I started to descend down some switchbacks towards Garnet lake I really lost the trail in the dark and ended up climbing down some rocks to find it again. I was glad I didn’t get hurt. Once I got to the end of Garnet Lake I stopped to try and take some shots of the full moon and it’s reflection in the lake with the snowy mountains in the background. I wanted to be at Thousand Island Lake for Golden Hour but I was hiking too slow to make it. I was able to see the first hints of sunrise in the reflection of the lake but I couldn’t see the sunrise itself. I’ve never noticed that before and it was really cool. After Garnet, I passed by Ruby Lake and then Thousand Island Lake where I did get some nice light and stopped to take a snack and water break. Then it was six more miles uphill to the top of Donohue Pass. On the way up the pass I passed every hiker who was in front of me until I saw “Too Hot” at the top who I met yesterday in Reds Meadow. It was a really easy pass and I was totally exhausted. Somehow I had the energy to climb up really fast. I wasn’t sure where it came from but I was worried that if I stopped I wouldn’t get it back. Luckily after Donohue it was all downhill and flat.

At the top of Donohue and for the next four miles. I enjoyed the company of Too Hot. He hiked the CDT last year as well and knows my friend Jenga. We picked out way down through the snow fields together. I was feeling fatigued again. Once we got down to the green meadow, I stopped to take a snack break, filter water, and change into my cooler clothes. Too Hot went on his way so he could try to hitch to Lee Vining where he sent his shoes. I jumped in the clear cold river to cool down before changing into my Hawaiian Shirt.

The last few miles were flat and I absolutely loved hiking through the green grassy Valley over granite rocks. I let my feet get sloppy for a second and rolled my right ankle really hard and fell down on my face in front of a bunch of people. I got right back up and continued walking after a few limping steps. I was walking as fast as I could so I could visit the wilderness permit office and pick up my packages before getting on the bus at 2pm. I made it to the wilderness office around 1:45. The rangers there were not helpful at all. Basically they said I had to reserve everything days in advance when I didn’t have cell service or go down into the valley to apply for other permits. I was honestly really frustrated by all he rules and that there was literally no way I could have gotten enough cell service to plan any of this. Mostly I was just really tired and wanted it to be simple.

After the wilderness office, I walked to the General store to pick up my packages. I had a package of food I sent myself from Kennedy Meadows and a pair of new shoes and insoles my mom shipped to me from home. I was so excited for the new shoes. I put my phone on the charger and sat down to have a beer with all the other hikers there. I met Ziploc, Popeye Yin, Shark Bait, and I saw Honeymoon who I met on day one. His real name is Ethan and he told me he was getting off trail here and spending his last month traveling around America. One beer made me so drunk. It always does right when I get to town, feel exhausted, and haven’t eaten enough food.

After a while, I decided to take the bus to the Valley with Honeymoon. We planned to camp in the backpackers campground. I was able to get ahold of Pop Rocks on the bus and I could use his permit # to stay the night. I told the rangers that I didn’t feel good so I stayed behind from the backpacking trip. I was so glad I didn’t have to hike anymore today. Once we got dropped off in Yosemite Valley, Ethan and I had to walk 2 miles to the backpackers campground. I was so glad when we made it there. Even though I didn’t get to do any of the extra hiking I wanted to in Yosemite because of the permits, I was still really glad I got to camp in the valley. It was absolutely gorgeous. I sorted through my pack and all my food. I crawled into my tent around 7pm and fell asleep early from pure exhaustion.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird


Published by Deserrae Potts

Thru Hiker Blogger

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