Mammoth to Tuolumne

Mammoth to Tuolumne

June 7, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0906.5
End: Halfmile 0929.5
Distance: 23.0 Mi
Cumulative: 974.0 Mi

The PCT and JMT split for about 14 miles just north of Red’s Meadow. I took the “road less traveled,” which isn’t actually true. It seems that the JMT alternate is fairly popular, despite being a bit more challenging in terms of ups and downs. I was hoping it would be an epic alternate, and that I’d get equally epic photos, and that I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. But I’m not in the High Sierra anymore. It was…cool. We were down in the valley and the light was poor, so I didn’t get any awesome photos. Ah well, it’s tough to beat Forester and Muir.

Shredder and Mountain Goat camped near Thousand Island Lake, where the PCT and JMT merge. I pressed on. The route was almost snow-free from there all the way up to the top of Donahue Pass. I topped out around 530p and just missed sunset. I had considered pushing all the way through to Tuolumne Meadows, but the bears get more active as you lose elevation, so I decided that hiking alone into the valley overnight would be a poor decision. Don’t wanna make it too easy on those Yosemite bears. Instead, I cowboy camped right at the high point.

Then I remembered a promise I’d made. And just as twilight began to wane, I said it: Betty.

June 8, 2014

Start: Halfmile 0929.5
End: JMT Side Trip Mile 16.0 (of 22.5)
Distance: 13.0 + 1.0 + 16.0 + 1.5 = 31.5 Mi
Cumulative: 1,005.5 Mi

What a day! Cruised down into Tuolumne and hit the Permit Office en route. Figured I’d see about doing Half Dome legit, rather than trying to sneak up. Apparently the fine can be up to $5,000 and 6 months in jail. That’s a little steep for a quick summit. Turns out, I got a free backcountry permit to finish the JMT and an $8 permit to do Half Dome. Not a bad deal, if you ask me. Quickly hit the store for a soda and an ice cream, then started down toward the Valley.

Saw three bears as I neared the Half Dome split, all within about 15 minutes of each other. They were completely uninterested. I was planning to camp at the split, but instead I thought it might be cool to get some silhouette photos of the dome during twilight, so I kept moving. (And I didn’t feel great about hanging with Smokey and his two friends.)

I didn’t even stop to get water, which meant that I arrived at the top of the sub-dome with a paltry half liter. And I was already parched. Oops. I could get by, but I wasn’t really looking forward to the next 12 hours of dry mouth. Then I met Kevin and Julie as they were making their way down from the top. Sick night hike. I felt weird asking, but it couldn’t hurt: “Hey, you guys don’t have any extra water by chance?” Ask and ye shall receive. Julie gave me almost a full liter. TRAIL MAGIC! If you’re reading this, thank you so much! Hope you didn’t run out before you got to camp.

I’m spending tonight in Half Dome’s epic shadow. With the nearly half moon, I can clearly see the silhouette. Stunning.

June 9, 2014

Start: JMT Side Trip Mile 16.0 (of 22.5)
End: JMT Side Trip Mile 22.5 (of 22.5)
Distance: 6.5 + 2.0 = 8.5 Mi
Cumulative: 1,014.0 Mi

Half Dome this morning was sick! Got up around 4a and cruised up the cables to watch the sun rise over the Valley. Way too cool. Spent a few hours up there with some other PCT-ers. Didn’t see a single day-hiker until I started down the cables around 730a. No alpine start for them.

I felt claustrophobic in the Valley, way too many people. It was packed. Stopped by Lower Yosemite Falls, but I wanted to make it back to Tuolumne in time to get my package and dinner, since I’m planning to leave first thing in the morning. The hitch back up was harder than I’d expected. The road splits three times, and it took three separate hitches to get back to Tuolumne. The first two were pretty easy, but I had to wait over an hour for the third. Made it back just minutes before 5p and was able to get my package, but I was completely out of luck for dinner and ice cream. I was heart-broken, no joke. Absolutely crushed. I’d been looking forward to it all day and just hadn’t anticipated the tough hitch. Ah well, at least I forwarded some of the treats I got in Tehachapie. Chocolate-covered pretzels, peppermint bark, nutella…comfort food for dinner.

I’d considered going the 6 miles to Glen Aulin, but I’ve decided to spend the night with the gang at the Tuolumne backpacker site instead. Good choice. Looking at 5 straight 30’s to make Echo Lake by Saturday night. If it works out, I’ll get to see Kelly for lunch on Sunday. Don’t think I’ve seen her since high school. West coast 10-year reunion? Yeah! Go big or go home, right?