Wednesday, August 23, 2000

At the outlet of Thousand Island Lake

Spectacular view on the way up to Island Pass (92k but worth it)

View south from Island Pass

View north from Island Pass. Donahue Pass is just out of sight.

I'm sitting on Island Pass. Everything is green, far greener than last time, if I remember right. Banner looms above a wonderful, detailed meadow-a scattering of water, an encrustation of rocks, embraced by green and seasoned with wildflowers. Clouds are scarce today, as they were when I struggled out of my Moonstone cocoon into the surprisingly warm air. But the clouds moved in out of nowhere, frothing across the sky at a tremendous pace. All of a sudden, my leisurely morning took on an element of urgency. I struck camp in minutes, chiding myself for not doing so before de-waxing my candle lantern. I hit the trail, expecting to have to pull out the rain jacket and pack cover at a moment's notice. At least, I noted, I wouldn't be alone in the rainfall. I think I encountered more people in that half hour to Thousand Island Lake than we'd had on entire days earlier in the trip. (Over Pinchot to Upper Basin comes to mind.) Anyway, the clouds eventually dispersed and I decided to savor the view a bit before going on. Now, though, the wind has picked up, driving chilly fingers through the chinks in my armor of fleece. Getting cool. Better finish my spoon o' peanut butter and move on down to Rush Creek.

A view of my tent looking southwest

Another cool tent view

Marie Lakes drainage where it meets the trail junction

Higher up the same drainage

Almost camped at Rush Creek. I went as far as to drop my pack and hike around for a while in search of a campsite. I found several, almost settled at one, decided on another, and then just said to hell with it and continued on up the trail.

I'm at the junction right now, where the Marie Lakes trail takes off up the hill. When I got here (probably around noon-as I said, it was gonna be a short day) the place was empty. No one. I searched about for a spot, deciding that the extremely attractive place near the trail was just too damned close to the water. Not that that stopped anyone else, but people or no people, I was determined to set a good example. So I found one atop a large rock outcropping that's probably 100 feet exactly from the nicest river sitting spot in the area. With so much time to kill, I sat in that spot with Henry Miller and whiled away a good hour.

Later, feeling like a particularly lazy marmot, I got up and went on a mini-hike, intent on locating Marie Lakes. I got as far as the basin below them, which is itself scattered with tarns. And there I turned around, thinking I'd found them. Very beautiful area. When I got back, I checked the map and found that I'd quite missed the lakes by a good quarter mile of trail and a couple hundred feet of altitude gain. Not my fault! The trail just sorta turned into a horse meadow of some kind.

Then, I sat down to prepare dinner, which was, to say the least, a fiasco.

The sun is still up, but I'm not in it. A tree got in the way. Before, I had too much sun. Now there's not enough. We can never be happy with what we have, can we?

Brr…going tentside.


Composite photo of
basin below Marie lakes

The weather held today. Just the occasional cloud, curdling in its own patch of blue sky and then moving on. Here's hoping it holds through tomorrow. The last thing I need going over Donahue Pass is a bit of rain. Actually, the last thing I need going over Donahue Pass (or indeed anywhere) is to have my brain sucked through my right ear, scrambled and then used as paste, but a rainstorm would be unpleasant as well.

Tomorrow, Lyell Canyon. Sliding into home plate on Friday. Shower. Food. I don't know where I'm pitching the tent yet. I guess I'll just see. Then getting down to Yosemite Valley will be like a victory jog around the plates.