Twig Adventures

Day 78: Donohue Pass

September 21st, 2018
Tuolumne Meadows mm 942 to Agnew Meadows mm 915
Distance: 27 miles
0650 – 1930

I enjoyed one of News Feed’s extra breakfasts in the morning…a gruel made of chia seeds, high-fat milk powder (Nido), nuts and fruit. He said it was about 500 calories. It was so filling and delicious that I didn’t feel the need to snack all morning. I was also a bit full from stuffing my face the day before. But the feeling wouldn’t last. I noted that my companions were a lot more conscientious about the caloric content and nutritional value of their foods. It also helped that they spent a lot of time planning and pre-making good stuff at home, shipping boxes along the way. I did very little planning and was suffering a bit for it.

I had adopted more of a scavenger strategy and could eat just about anything. I had to go with this strategy in New Zealand, since many foods from outside wouldn’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 in the US. But I suffered the consequences of a poorer and sometimes insufficient diet. I carried about 1.5 lbs of food per day, while bigger guys often carried over 2 or even 3 lbs. Females generally require less and are more efficient at converting the calories.

I was 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!

I then began climbing over Donohue Pass at 11,000 ft. I 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 were quite the rarity, especially this time of year

Donohue Pass was a massive jumble of granite for as far as the eye could see.

Just over the pass, I got cell reception and took another break to do various business. The rest of the afternoon, I hiked fast to make it to a campsite at a trailhead. The promise of a pit toilet, faucet, and trash cans were a motivator. Most hikers seek campsites near serene lakes or with mountain vistas.

Thru-hikers are enticed by conveniences and spots that will be warm, or at least that’s how it goes this late in the hike. I got plenty of mountain vistas as I hiked all day. Plus, I had 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. I made it just as it was getting dark and found some cozy flat spots under pines, next to the very nice and clean toilet…with toilet paper even! It’s like Trail Magic, only Toilet Magic! What a treat. I had to setup using my headlamp, 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.

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