It’s one of those mediocre evenings, where my dreams – only half-remembered on waking – seem to keep me up half the night. But I’m up anyway, packing up, skulking out, occupying the nearby rock to finish dinner for breakfast. I eventually leave my perch for the nearby water, stock up, and am on my way back towards the PCT.
I pretty much immediately turn on my podcasts – I’ve got a number of passes, large and small, to do today, and learning makes the hills go faster. So it’s over the first and down to Garnet Lake.
It’s incredible, and I’m kind of bummed I didn’t make it here for sunset – not that I could have, and not that I knew to. I make up for it with lots of pictures now, and a nice break on the wee pass as it overlooks Garnet.
Then it’s over and down to Thousand Island Lake, which is also lovely, if a little overhyped.
As I rejoin the PCT for my first proper pass of the day – Island Pass – the view gets better and better. The Pass itself is kind of underwhelming too, but I’m busy learning about wine fraud and fairy tales and the Voynich Manuscript, so I don’t particularly mind as I head down, then back up to Donohue Pass.
I like to play this game wherein I try to guess what mountainous in-between the trail is going to take me to before I either look at a map or ask a JMT hiker. I’m pretty settled on one when the trail takes a sharp left and I am, as usual, hilariously wrong. There’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere, but I’m huffing and puffing too much to figure it out fully.
I’m close to the top of the pass when I see a gentleman sitting in the trail – obviously sitting, although he’s sitting in some snowmelt runoff. There’s enough room to pass him, so I say hello, and round the rock he’s staring at to confront a marmot. I yip my surprise, apologize, try to scoot away so he can continue watching, but the marmot’s had enough and retreats into its den. The Guy with the Marmot1 shrugs it off, smiling – I tell him his sleeping bag, hanging off the back of his pack, is getting wet, and he leaps up, thanking me. We chat a bit as we go up the pass, though I lose him just before the top. There’s a bit of snow up there, and I lose and find the trail too, and then, Donohue Pass, and Yosemite Wilderness proper!
There’s a couple of week-hikers in addition to some JMTers up here, and the JMTers pawn some of their food off on me and Guy with the Marmot, when he arrives – honey roasted peanuts, which under any other circumstances I’d reject, but for now they’re quite tasty. We munch and chat as I consider whether or not a glissade down the other side will get me where I need to go – I conclude, after looking at the maps, that it won’t. Le sigh.
After packing up, I navigate a few small snowfields and head down on what is basically the trail; as I come around a corner, I find the glissade would have taken me exactly where I’m standing. Nuuuuuu. So much for my ability to judge topo distances.
Still, as I come down to my first lake outlet, Yosemite makes up for it.
Down, down into Lyell Canyon I go, past a bunch of people camped out – it’s nearing dusk in the canyon, but only because the down is so steep. There’s still sunlight bouncing off them thar hills, more than enough light to see by. Guy with the Marmot passes me, seems pretty astonished by all this down stuff. I’m a little less shocked, given we just came over a pass, but my feet hurt too much to say anything.
Things start to flatten out; the trail meanders along Lyell Fork in a purtyful fashion.
I come across a hiker, backpack off, lying with his head in the creek. My confusion quickly turns to concern, and I speed up to get to him; as I approach, he gets up, brushes himself off, lifestraw still in his mouth. I cackle loudly, and that’s how I meet Paperboy for the second time.
We catch up to and pass Guy with the Marmot, but we’re all looking for a place to sleep; the first spot we come across, ‘Murica Man2 from Whitney is there, and while he says we’re welcome to stay, his tone and his look does not suggest he’s happy to say it to the two brown people on his proverbial doorstep. Or maybe I’m just 0% interested in dealing with him tonight. But Paperboy maybe feels it too, because we share a look and decide to keep walking, Guy with the Marmot reaching us and deciding to tag along rather than stop.
We reach the Evelyn Lake trail junction, and there’s a huge campsite, barely occupied by two JMT hikers who are huddled together, cooking. Paperboy and I set up and are joined shortly by Guy with the Marmot, who immediately starts a fire in the fire ring and sets up right next to it. I munch on dinner while they cook; they’re still up talking when I retreat into my tent. I think I won’t sleep for all the excitement of tomorrow – friends! Trail magic! Tuolumne Meadows! – but, of course, I eventually do.
Start: 7.5 on the JMT • End: 936.0 • Day: 5.6 JMT + 13.1 PCT = 18.7
Notable Accomplishments: By myself again • Podcast frenzy • Almost done with the JMT!
 Not his actual trail name, but it should be, so that’s what I’mma call him.
 Also not his actual trail name. Also maybe it should be.