September 21st, 2018
Tuolumne Meadows mm 942 to Agnew Meadows mm 915
Distance: 27 miles
0650 – 1930
I enjoyed one of Taylor’s extra breakfasts in the morning…a gruel made of chia seed, high-fat milk powder (Nido), nuts and fruit. He says it’s about 500 calories. It was so filling that I didn’t feel the need to snack all morning.
My companions are a lot more conscientious about the caloric content and nutritional value of their foods…it also helps that they spent a lot of time planning and pre-making good stuff at home, shipping boxes all along the way.
I have adopted more of a scavenger strategy and will eat just about anything. I had to go with this strategy in New Zealand, since many foods from outside can’t clear customs and it would have also been expensive to bring or ship them. So I ate what I could find in the grocery stores…which isn’t very different from what you find here. But I suffer the consequences of a poorer and sometimes insufficient diet. I also carry about 1.5 lbs of food per day, while they are over 2 or even 3 lbs. But females generally require less and are more efficient at converting the calories. Still, it’s nice being around these guys to get some of their extra scraps.
Stellar and I were back on trail early and walked for miles up a gentle valley. It was quite a bit warmer in the campground and the valley remained frozen for hours. I loved this morning…flat valley walks are the best!
We then began climbing over Donohue Pass, 11,000 ft. We took lunch about halfway up. The surroundings were pure Mountain Magic, with sharp peaks, glaciers, and clear blue lakes and skies. Just perfect. Overall, this felt like one of the most relaxed days on the trail.
There were many other people on the trail now, as the next couple hundred miles are shared with the infamous JMT. It’s such a popular trail that you have to enter a lottery to get a permit. Most of the JMT hikers were easily recognizable by their sizeable packs. PCT hikers are quite the rarity and others were very surprised when we told them the crazy thing we are doing.
Donohue Pass was a massive jumble of granite for as far as the eye could see.
Just over the pass, we got cell reception and took another break to do various business. The rest of the afternoon, we hiked fast to make it to a campsite at a trailhead. The promise of a pit toilet, faucet, and trash cans was a motivator. Most hikers seek campsites near serene lakes or with mountain vistas.
These days, we are enticed by conveniences and spots that will be warm. We get plenty of mountain vistas as we hike all day. Plus, we have to get the miles in, and the miles added up to this particular trailhead.
It was nice hiking into the evening, watching the sun go down over the mountains and the light in the valley fading. We made it just as it was getting dark and found some flat spots under pines, next to the very nice and clean toilet…with toilet paper even! What a treat. We had to setup using headlamps, but that is easy now. There were many cars in the lot, and some coming and going all night. I was only woken once around 1 am when some hikers arrived. I think they got in late and slept in their car.
I generally feel a little uneasy camping near a trailhead, but it was comforting having Stellar next door. His wife hiked much of the AT and now it’s his turn to do a long-distance hike. He’s in his 50’s, is a mechanical engineer, races bikes, and served 4 years in the Army. He is quick with his trekking poles and maybe knows some other moves… a good companion for sure.