7/23 – Upper Cathedral Lake to Kuna Creek in Lyell Canyon.
Today was a lot of things.
Today was our first 15 mile day on the trail. I’ve done 22 mile days, but never with a full pack on.
Today was also the first time I saw a marmot. We named him Abel.
AND today was the day that we burned our Snow Peak titanium cooking pot. I think we totally ruined it. More on that later
So today we woke up around 6:30. Kevin slept poorly so we snoozed a bit. The tent was soaked. We camped close to the Cathedral Lake as it was pretty but made everything damp. Lesson learned. Lakes = morning moisture. So it took us a bit longer to pack everything up as we wanted to let the sunlight hit and dry out the tent before cramming it into a bag. We started down from upper Cathedral Lake around 9 am. It was downhill all the way to the Tuolumne Meadows Grill. The sound of cars and the day hikers coming up the trail was a bit jarring. Turns out it takes a long time to get through the meadow. Almost three miles just to get to the store. Originally, I thought I would want to eat a cheeseburger and fries when I made it to the grill, but when I got there I had no appetite. Kevin went into the store and bought us 3 bananas, a green apple, and sweet iced tea. We hung out on the picnic tables outside and received some great advice from a long time JMT and PCT hiker. He said slow and steady is the way to go. Keep your heart rate below 120 BPM and you can make it up any mountain. Good advice dude!
From the grill, we pushed on to get out of Tuolumne and the crowds and make our big right hand turn to start actually head south into Lyell Canyon.
The canyon is really lovely. It is a long slow incline up and runs along side the creek. We spotted our first marmot hanging out on a rock. They just sit on rocks, sunning themselves. Not sure why they do that but it is dang cute. We ran into a group of hikers headed up to one of the high sierra camps
We decided in an effort to clock more miles that we would eat dinner early along Lyell Creek in the canyon around 5pm and then keep going for another hour or two before setting up camp for the night. We headed down towards the creek to find a nice spot for dinner and to pump water. Sadly, the mosquitos were also down by the creek. Another lesson learned. I think I’m up to 20 bites now and it’s only day 3. So we start setting up to make dinner and I’m busy swatting mosquitos away and tying the bug net tighter on my head (how do they still get inside the bug net?) and Kevin asks me how much water to make the meal. I say a cup and 3/4 which is the amount for one packaged meal. He has two packaged meals in the pot. We soon notice white smoke and a burning smell emerging from the pot. It burned so fast! We really tried hard to salvage the dinner by picking out the burned chunks but it tasted just awful. It was supposed to be Mexican style beans and rice with tortilla but it seriously tasted like a cigarette butt. I managed to stomach a couple bites because I knew I needed the calories and we have been eating far less than our allotment because we just don’t feel hungry. I feel exhausted at times and bonk going up hills but my stomach just isn’t registering hungry. We decided to trash what was left of dinner (means we have to carry it till Red’s Meadow) and eat Snickers and tortillas for dinner. Oh well.
As the sun started to set we met a couple from Oregon, Manuela and Dick. It was their first day on the trail as they came in at Tuolomne Meadow. Turns out the Happy Isles permit was hard to come by! We then passed a big group of Sierra Club hikers and I grumbled to Kevin how annoying Sierra Club people are, hiking in giant groups, taking up all the good camp sites, and then Kevin informed me that we are Sierra Club members. HA!
At this point it was getting on in the evening, close to 7 pm and it seemed all the good campsites were taken. Kevin had downloaded an app on his phone that pointed out all the good campsites. Thankfully we were able to climb up the side of the hill a ways and find a spot for the night.
Tomorrow Donahue Pass and Island Pass!