No bears pay us a visit last night and I love camping next to a stream. The white noise is very helpful for getting some sleep. We sleep with a fan on at home, so when we are out hiking, I love to find a stream to sleep by. It also helps block out sounds from creatures stirring in the night. Those little creatures that sound 10x bigger in the middle of the night when all is silent and your imagination runs wild!
I try to eat some breakfast and just cannot stomach it. I am worried now; as I have to climb a big pass today and I need some fuel to do that. I do have some fat stores, so I know that I will be ultimately be fine, but it would be nice to have something easier for my body to use.
We are packed and head out to conquer Donahue Pass! It sits at around 11,000 ft and is the gateway to Yosemite National Park. We are running into more and more JMT (John Muir Trail) hikers going both northbound (NOBO) and southbound (SOBO). The first part of the day is spent climbing next to a river and reaching little plateaus. We are still within treeline and things are lush and beautiful. We are crossing streams on logs or boulders and enjoying great weather.
In a little meadow before the pass we finally see our first marmot. He was very adorable, well fed, and very used to humans.
There in the distance we get our first look at Donahue Pass. It is going to be a slog, especially with zero food in my system, but I’m going to do this! Cordlan bounds on ahead of us and pretty soon it’s like “Where’s Waldo”. Thankful that he has a red pack and a blue shirt on today. It’s the only way we can spot him. We leap frog with another man that takes ten steps, then a 10 second break, the whole way up the pass. I just go slow and sloth-like as usual. A couple of young boys pass us, then eventually their parents. We briefly chat and they tell us that if our son is up ahead of their boys, they are bound and determined to pass him. Cordlan has no idea this is taking place, but does see the boys and let’s them pass. They have no interest in waiting for their parents, but he felt it was only right to wait for his. In the meantime, he finds a great slab of rock, some snow to ice his shoulders, some cell service, and proceeds to do Snapchap videos from his majestic location. Ha-ha! Gotta love technology today.
As others are coming down, they joke with us that they are serving burgers and hotdogs up at the top. Too bad I couldn’t eat any of them or I would barf! There is also a group of young guys that brought big blow up sharks and whales that they are using to float in the tarn up on the top of the pass. That one is true and we just missed them when we finally make it to the top. We celebrate by soaking our feet in the water and relaxing for a bit.
Now it’s time to get down and find our campsite for the night. We make our way down many stone steps to a nice little lake where we decide to eat some lunch. Well, they eat lunch and I eat a few Swedish Fish. Cordlan can’t believe we eat so little food when we hike and he is starving this whole trip. So, luckily for him, I am not eating and he can eat my portions.
Down, down we go into Lyell Canyon. It is much harder on this side of the pass and I am actually happy that I am going down and not up it. This is also the time that Cordlan is finally able to get over his biggest hang-up of backpacking….pooping in the woods! We are proud of his accomplishment and now he is officially a backpacker! Woo hoo!
We pass many people, but our favorite was a young guy in a kilt. Kilts are actually a thing for men to hike in and some swear by them. It was surprising to see a young guy wearing one, because most men wearing them are over 50. He is very tired and worn out. He asks us if there are any girls back where we just came from. Some others told him that there were girls ahead and that has been his only motivation to keep hiking. I am truthful and say no, but Cordlan decided to have some fun with him and tell him yes. There is actually a wet t-shirt contest at the top of the pass right now. If he hurries, he might make it. He is super happy, but tells Cordlan not to mess with him, really….is that really true? Cordlan lets the guy down and tells him no. Poor, poor guy. He looked soo deflated. We hope he makes it further, but at the rate he is moving, my bet is he is going to have to stop soon.
We eventually make it to a great area to camp for the night by a steadily flowing stream. It’s a nice site, but Cordlan has to have his tent a little more away from us than usual. He usually likes sleeping a bit closer, but has no choice here. We also get a neighbor just down the way. She is a solo hiker and I think she is quite brave to be doing this all alone. When I get the courage to go say hi to her, I stop dead in my tracks. She is fully naked in the stream getting cleaned up. Oh my! I am happy that she takes care of herself, hope she is not using soap (leave no trace), and also go tell Gannon and Cordlan not to look that way. We have a relaxing and uneventful night of camp chores, dinner (I ate a little bit!), and watching our show in the tent. We all go to sleep to the soothing sound of rushing water over rocks and look forward to eating a burger and fries tomorrow!