7/27/2018 Sunrise Camp –> Lyell Canyon
I woke up and packed up camp early. I knew I had to get up past Tuolumne Meadows today in order to stay on schedule and get closer to where I was ‘supposed’ to be. I set an alarm for 5am, but I woke up at 4am and decided to get going anyway. Because I woke up so early I was able to take my time a little bit and I got going just before 5am. It was cool and dark when I set out and I started out wearing my fleece but ended up getting too hot and taking it off almost immediately. Thankfully the quick-dry label on my shirt was not lying and it was dry, albeit cold by the time I woke up.
Up until this point I had been averaging about 2 mph but today I covered more than a mile in the first 20 minutes. I was eager to get where I was going and the cool morning air definitely helped me keep my pace up. I set a goal for the day to make it to Tuolumne Meadows by 12 pm and eat lunch somewhere nearby. According to my schedule, I was supposed to stay the night in Lyell Canyon last night, and make it up over Donahue Pass (the second pass) and stay at Rush Creek tonight. I didn’t want to push myself too hard so I figured that if I could make it to Lyell canyon and only be one day behind schedule by tonight, that would be good enough for me.
I went over Cathedral Pass without even really noticing it until I looked at my map sometime later. I remember going up a hill that I think may have been the pass but I didn’t really notice it. I hope the other passes won’t be as anti-climactic, but something tells me that I won’t be disappointed.
As I kept inching closer to Tuolumne, I started seeing more and more day hikers, a good sign that I was closer to civilization. I even saw a mule train, heading towards Sunrise Camp! Around 11:40, I saw a trail sign that marked Tuolumne meadows was 3 miles ahead. A little behind schedule but really not too bad! I decided to go off the trail just a little bit to get to the Ranger Station and ask some questions. I wanted to know the status of the fires and ask whether it was okay to keep my car parked in Yosemite Valley even though it was closed. They let me know that it would be fine to leave it and that if it was still closed when I returned, they would let me get through to retrieve my car.
“But you don’t need to worry, I’m sure it will be open by then! I mean…I’d sure hope so!”
Satisfied with the answers from the friendly rangers, I made my way back to the trail. I stopped to use the bathroom (real toilets!) and endured horrified stares from mothers as they shielded their children from the dirty hiker girl (okay, I may be exaggerating just a little bit). I continued on up the trail, looking for a good place to eat my lunch. While looking at the map, I noticed a little symbol that meant food was sold nearby. REAL FOOD. “What a wimp,” I thought to myself, “Can’t even make it three days without breaking down for a cheeseburger.” Still, I was hungry. I headed toward the food stand.
On the way there, I was in my own little world listening to an e-book or a podcast when I noticed someone waving me down. It was an older teenage boy, I’d guess he was probably around 17.
“Excuse me miss, you look like you know what you’re doing. Can you help me?”
“Well, I’m not sure but I can try!”
He explained to me that he had accompanied his sister and her friend here for the day, but he had seen a bear when they drove in and got scared and decided to stay in the car, but now he was hungry and wanted to find some food. Oy. I tried to explain to him that the bears here weren’t scary and all you needed to do was make loud noises and safe choices when it comes to food and smellables, but he wasn’t having any of it. He told me he wasn’t really an outdoors person and his mom had forced him to come with her sister and her friend. Oh well, I guess the outdoors isn’t for everybody. I walked with him to the food station, and pointed out landmarks and let him take a picture of my map so he “wouldn’t get lost on the way back to the car”, which was about .3 miles from the food tent. He told me that he didn’t know if the map would help, because he didn’t ever use maps, and only relied on Google maps to get him where he needed to go. Welp. I tried. We got to the food tent and I wished him luck and then we parted ways.
I ordered a cheeseburger and talked to the guys working at the counter about my hike so far, then sat down and enjoyed the best cheeseburger of my life. There is nothing like real food when you’ve been eating dehydrated and/or freeze-dried food, even the good kind like I had been eating.
I suppressed my urge to get a milkshake as well (I still had 5 miles to go!!) and slowly headed back down the trail, away from the bustling meadow. Five miles didn’t seem too far, but after such a nice rest period and that burger, time dragged on and I became aware of how much my feet were hurting. I could practically feel the hot spots turning into blisters and was confident that both of my pinkie toes were actually about to fall off completely. Imagining the carnage inside my boots actually helped to pass the time a little bit.
After about two miles I was stopped by a pair of volunteer rangers who were checking permits. Cool! I didn’t know you could be a volunteer ranger! That sounds fun! I showed my permit and my bear can and we talked about my solar panel a little bit, then I kept on going. I finally FINALLY reached my campsite and stripped off my boots to inspect the damage.
Well, my pinkie toes had not quite fallen off, but they had turned into blisters. They were both swollen with ick and about twice their normal size. Gross. I didn’t take any pictures (you’re welcome) but I did switch into my Tevas to give my feet some room to breathe. My fitbit told me I did 22 miles today, which is not accurate at all. According to the map, I did about 16. Which is still a lot.
I headed over to the river that was near my camp and met two hikers that had passed me earlier in the day and were fishing in the river. Their names are Matt and Jarad. They’re a little older than me, and are from the Bay Area too! We chatted about the trail and our goals and work and shared some box wine that they had brought with them from Tuolumne. I was getting tired and the sun was starting to set, so I decided to head back to my campsite and make some dinner.
I don’t remember what I ate, but I felt good that I had almost caught up to where I was supposed to be on my schedule and decided not to set an alarm tomorrow, just to let myself rest as long as I needed tomorrow morning. I tended to my blisters and then got into bed, dreaming of the cheeseburger that was slowly becoming a memory inside my digestive system.
Thanks for reading! See you when I wake up!