Sunday, June 24, 2012

24 June - Day 64 - Peaks & lakes & passes, Oh My!

From campsite near Soda Springs footbridge on Middle Fork of the San Joaquin (Mile 910.6) through the Ansel Adams Wilderness to a tundra meadow below Donohue Pass (Mile 930.6)

Total PCT miles hiked today: 20

From about 7800 ft elevation we hiked up Agnew Pass (9,539 ft) to Island Pass (10,207 ft) to Donohue Pass (11,064 ft).

Hi, Dionysus (Chris) here.

Lots of up today. Three separate passes across twenty miles - and Chuck with a fat sprained ankle and me with a strained groin muscle. Actually though we managed the vertical fine, the hardest part right now is shaking off the dust from five days in town. (The rest surely did us good but now we gotta get our groove back).

Luckily the day was full of beautiful panoramas. Morning greeted us in a low wooded valley with mosquitos and blown down trees. We found our way through hills of lodgepole pine, red fir and hemlock, round a wide grass meadow, and up to the side of a ridge looking out on an impressive set of jagged snowcapped peaks and a string of beautiful mountain lakes.

We popped over Agnew Pass and reconnected with the John Muir Trail at 1000 Island Lake. Took a ton of pictures. Up and over Island Pass. Then down into a high subalpine tundra. Marmots and lots of water from snow melt (this is oddly one of the snowier areas we've seen so far even though it is not very high). Then the gradual rocky climb over Donahue Pass. The view from either side was astonishing. To the south the volcanic peaks around Mammoth and the high Sierra we've come up from. To the north a precipitous drop to a carved green valley full of lakes (and probably more mosquitos - what joy).

Only our second day back on he trail and we don't want to overextend. So we camped as close to the top of the pass as possible.

Subalpine rocks, scree, a few contorted limber pines and icy brooks. High winds up here - so no mosquitos. Bound to be a cold night. But clear and almost no moon so the stars should be great. And tomorrow we reach Tuolumne the gateway to the Yosemite valley. Hopefully another day of great hiking and views.

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