Thursday, August 24, 2000

Awoke to sunshine this morning and crested the pass amid a whirlwind of icy blasts. At times it threatened to knock me over. Dropped down to the first lake. Things didn't improve. The wind funneled down off of Lyell Glacier and ripped at my sanity. I filled my water container straight from a high, cold stream and dropped off a shelf via a set of rocky switchbacks. The wind died as I dropped to the next, infinitely more hospitable shelf and forded the stream there. Without the wind, my mind found itself free to wander, and wander it did.

On the way up toward Donahue Pass, looking back toward Rush Creek

Donahue Pass. Altitude 11,056!

Looking south from the pass

Looking north from the pass. Some yahoo got in the way of the photo

A view into Lyell Canyon from just north of the pass

Looking up at Lyell Glacier from the outlet of an unnamed lake

I'm thinking about the next time I do this trip, north to south for he newbies, if there are any. And there will be, because if I do this again I want to bring along video and film cameras. Make a documentary of it. Heavy, to be sure, and a helluva lot more complicated, but the idea is ripe and intriguing. I'm at the second crossing of the creek now. The final one. A 360-degree clear sky, despite the notion that a woman I met on the pass had that rain was predicted for today and tomorrow. Who knows? It's early yet.

The trail into Lyell Canyon is steep at times

Our old campsite. We almost lost our food here back in '93

Another view of same campsite

I've settled into a new campsite now, just beyond the legal distance from the river. I'm sitting on a boulder above the river. A wide cascade beside me. Across the river, a pair of gentlemen sit on Therma-Rest type chairs and enjoy the sun. They're the same two gents who camped above me last night. I recognize the chairs. And one of them wears a distinctive red cap. The roar of the water is too great to have a conversation, but we mimed recognition across the gulf.

The descent into the canyon was pretty tough, but somehow not as bad as I remembered it from the last time I came through here. Perhaps it was that incessant documentary idea of mine, flapping about my head like a trapped pigeon.. The sky is spotted with teensy clouds, unthreatening for now, but I've got one eye on the sky and a good sense of where the tent fly is, just in case.

Last we came through here was seven years ago. I visited our old campsite on the way down to where I am now, which is about a quarter mile shy of the Vogelsang Trail and its bevy of brutalized campsites. I don't know why, but I thought I'd take a picture or two of the old site. Tattered stuff sacks dangled from the very branch where our own fateful sacks hung. I wonder if they're the same tattered sacks we noticed the morning after the bears almost got our own food? Pretty much like I remembered it, thought the fire ring is gone. Once can see where it was, but the stones have all been cleared, all but one placed smack in the middle of what used to be the firepit, as if to discourage campers from resurrecting the thing. A strangely nostalgic experience.

Tent in a small grove in Lyell Canyon

Looking vaguely upriver from campsite


The older of the two gentlemen across the river, presumably the dad of the pair, has just climbed out of what must have been a bone-chilling bath in the swirling pool below the falls. I myself eyed the pool until I dunked my feet off to wash off the trail dust. Ice cold. You wouldn't think it, really, for the path of the river through the valley is so languorous and long. Plenty of time to warm up in the sun. But nope.

Tomorrow, Tuolumne Meadows, a shower, possibly a burger and a clean, restful night.

It's a little later. I'm in the tent now. The sun is gone. I guess you'd call this twilight. I spent some time studying the Winett JMT book. I had to. I finished Tropic of Cancer by the riverside. I'm working out an alternate schedule to see if there was some way Mom could have accompanied me on this le of the trip. Certainly, it could have been done. Of course, on a different schedule, I'd have never sen the 3-legged coyote or met the Swiss Family, but we'd have seen other cool, unusual things. Maybe a two-headed mosquito, or a marmot that wanted to give us food…

An extensive journal ramble begins at this point, including an account of a marten sighting.