Middle Fork San Joaquin River(911.0) to Lyell Fork(931.2) 20.2 Miles
Sometimes I just have to ask myself, "Is this real life?" With the things I saw today that was definitely the question on my mind. Today I entered the Ansel Adams Wilderness and the views were amazing.
I was so focused on my end goal that I completely looked over the finer details of the day. I failed to notice the elevation profile, which was almost entirely uphill. I didn't realize that I would pass Thousand Island Lake, or that I would have to hike over a pretty substantial pass, Donahue Pass, at the end of the day. Oops!
The day started off so well. I slept in slightly to wait for it to warm up. I then took advantage of the campground facilities before I began my day. For the first time in a long time I hiked through mountains that were covered in green instead of just massive towering granite peaks.
The entire morning was a stark contrast. I had green covered peaks on my right and harsh granite beasts to my left. The granite monsters definitely photograph better. There is a beauty within the starkness of the mountains.
Itseemed to take forever to hike my morning miles. I was keeping up a good pace, but I kept stopping to take pictures and breaks. I just couldn't tear my eyes away from the landscape. It looked so beautiful that it was almost fake, like a green screen with the view CGI'd into place.
I was beginning to get hungry for lunch so I looked at my maps to find a place to stop. I discovered that I was close to Thousand Island Lake. I wasn't familiar with the name, but it sounded like a great lunch spot. Sometime during the morning the wind really picked up. It made for pleasant hiking weather, but every time I stopped I got chilled very quickly. Usually when the weather is like this it is not a great idea to stop next to a lake. Thousand Island Lake was totally worth being cold.
I ate lunch by the shore and it was really windy and cold. I tried to wait for Homegrown and Sprinkles to catch up, but I had to get moving again. The hike over Island Pass was a joke. It wasn't much of a pass at all. I cruised right along until the base of Donahue Pass. The rest of the day was a struggle for me. I have been having some pretty severe pain in my left knee. I keep hoping that I can push through the pain, but so far that hasn't been the case. From Island Pass I dropped a few hundred feet of elevation, only to gain it immediately back. The hike up Donahue Pass was very pretty as well. I would go uphill and over streams and then come out into an open, flat, boulder strewn meadow. After doing this two to three times I could finally see the pass. The good news was there wasn't very much snow in the direction I was traveling. The bad news was that the wind had increased even more since lunchtime. My knee was hurting so bad that I would hike for an hour and then stop for twenty to thirty minutes. The remains miles of the day were very slow going.
The final push to get over the pass was uneventful. I had to cross two small snow fields that were super easy. Once at the top I exited the Ansel Adams Wilderness and entered into Yosemite National Park!
The wind was absolutely atrocious on the pass. I didn't linger long. I put on my rain jacket, which is my go to hiking layer, because it helps to break the wind and I warm up very quickly wearing it. Th way down was one very long snow field. Usually I would glissade down, but I was too cold to sit in the snow at the end of the day. I carefully picked my way down the trail. This was difficult and time consuming because every step I took felt like a stab of fire in my knee. Eventually I made it through the wind, snow, and pain to my predetermined camp spot. Sprinkles and Homegrown showed up minutes after me. Homegrown managed to find us a great spot mostly out of the wind.
It was a very rewarding and difficult day, which seems to describe everyday in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Tomorrow will be a nice and easy hike into Touloumne Meadows. Sprinkles family will meet us there and are planning to provide us with some TRAIL MAGIC!
"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama