June 24: Today was going to be a big day for me. Past the really big passes of the Sierras and so close to Yosemite's border, I wa going to strive for 25 miles today. With that damn near canister.
I had a early start, watching the light change and the early morning animals scurrying around and watching me like an animal in a zoo.
I had a couple smaller passes to go over today- the first not even feeling like a pass, but like a big valley between peaks. I was especially impressed while going through Island Pass At the number of older southbound hikers I encountered. I passed several couples on their 60s and early 70s, enjoying the view and proceeding at a comfortable pace. One couple told me how they met on the PCT 30+ years ago, when they were both doing section hikes. Happiness comes in many forms, and it's nice when he world gives you a glimpse of the kind of happiness that gels with your own kind. 😊
Donahue Pass was a bit more of a climb, but had a flat area up top with lots of rocks to sit on and take a rest. I came upon 5-6 hikers chilling out and eating so I joined the pass party. We were joined by several other hikers in the next half hour or so, and a whole bunch of sneaky marmots.
Marmots look a lot like the groundhog from Caddyshack, which is why the theme to Caddyshack, by Kenny Loggins had been on repeat on my head for a large part of the sierras. Now I was just keeping an eye on them, as they surreptitiously crept closer and closer to my food. Absolutely not! I will impale you withu trekking pole, you thief! Marmots also make this high pitched whistling/chirping sound, which I found disconcerting, because it seemed like the kind of noise you'd hear from a bird, not a rodent thief who hangs out with Bill Murray.
After lunch, most of my fellow hikers seemed set on securing their food and taking an 11,000 foot nap. I had 25 miles to complete. (Why is nobody as motivated as I?) So I said goodbye and started on the downhill.
I soon ran into some motivated peeps. There was a young couple from Korea who were backpacking for the first time. They were with a guide, who was also a bit of a Sherpa (carrying tent, stove, and much of the food) He was also a bit of a drill sergeant, pushing them to get to Tuolomne Meadows by evening. We leapfrogged past one another all day, jumping into rivers and lakes, as we needed to cool off.
The trail flattened out about 6 miles before Tuolomne Meadows- making the hiking go faster, but the last 5 miles into anywhere always takes too long! My leapfrog friends were stopping at the first TM resort, I was continuing to the second (free) area. So when the two first time hikers collapsed in the parking area and the Sherpa ran to get the car, I got myself a soda for a nice sugar fix to get through the final 2 miles.
These was a little confusing in this area, so I asked a staff member how to get to the next general store. Why, oh why, do so many places staff themselves with Jeff Spicoli clones? You'd think I just asked how to build a one man space vessel to fly to Mars! Fortunately, there were lots of other thru hikers around. They know how to give trail directions!
I hoofed it down the last two miles of trail and made it to the store a full 5 minutes before closing so k could get another soda and an ice cream cookie sandwich. And guess who was in line right behind me? Skyline! Sometimes "I'll catch up without in a couple hours" takes a week.
Peace love and trail Magic!