I was looking forward to today since it was going to be easy terrain (overall 1,000′ decline and a level hike up Lyell Canyon), and I was going to go through Tuolumne Meadows for my resupply pick-up and have a chance to get real food, like a pop (“soda” for those outside Ohio). The morning at Upper Cathedral Lake was also beautiful.
It was an easy hike down from Cathedral Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows, passing a large contingent of day hikers heading for Cathedral Lakes. I tried to recommend to as many as possible to go beyond Lower Cathedral Lake to experience Upper Cathedral Lake and the vistas just beyond the pass. Once I reached Tuolumne Meadows, I followed the “traditional” JMT route through the meadow and past Lembert Dome, which was nice, except the surface was extremely sandy and “squishy”.
I had to take a quarter mile detour to reach the post office and pick up my resupply bucket. My resupply strategy was to take the minimal amount of food up the initial steep incline of the JMT from 4,000′ to over 9,000′, stock up at Tuolumne Meadows (note: Post Office only open weekdays) for 6-7 days worth of food to reach Muir Trail Ranch, where I would pick up the final 9 days/8 nights worth of food. Great plan, until I loaded up the bear canister at Tuolumne Meadows and realized how heavy my pack was! It was also about this time that I realized I wasn’t eating as much on the trail as I thought I would.
After a call with Ann, I hit the dusty trail up Lyell Canyon from Tuolumne Meadows. The long meadows of the area are really nice, and after a while, I began enjoying Lyell Canyon. The Lyell Fork cutting through the meadow with an ocasional cascade over rocks was very nice. I stopped a few times and checked out the fish, imagining that it would be neat to hang out fishing the creek with Ken for a day (although the fish seemed small).
I leap frogged Mark and Jason a few times in Lyell Canyon and they ended up breaking for camp a little before I did (they had ended up camping on the opposite end of Upper Cathedral Lake from me the night before). I wanted to get as far as possible before the canyon ended and the incline up to Donohue Pass started. This was a large campsite above the trail which didn’t end up being ideal because it was quite a climb down to get water. After getting water, I met a couple guys from Washington that wanted to finish the trail in 12 days! They hiked from Happy Isles to Cathedral Lakes in one day the day before!
I lost my LNT Badge that night. I crushed all my dehydrated meals with a rolling pin and put them in Quart Freezer bags to save space in the bear canister. When filling the bag with boiling water, the bag collapsed and dumped 2/3 of my dinner on a rock and over some of my gear. Uggh. And the old timer mentioned Lyell Canyon is where the worst bear activity is. Uggh uggh. I did the best I could cleaning up the food, rinsing off the area and gear, and moving my tent further away. To try to address it further, I covered to rock with tuft from around the trees and then peed on it twice. I guess I did well enough, for no signs of bear activity that night! I also made sure I made supports for my freezer bags out of rocks the rest of the trip!