JMT Day 3, August 9, 2016
This day was, officially, Stephanie's longest backpacking trip!
Lyle Canyon seems to be filled with light all day, but it takes a while for the Sun to rise. The cold morning and lack of Sun had Stephanie retreating back to her tent to get warm after breakfast. Her hands had become numb.
I was doing OK, and started getting stuff organized for the daily routine of packing up,
This was our first "normal" day, eating food out of the Bear Vaults. Breakfast was pancakes and coffee. For the trail I was Jolly Ranchers, and Steph her coveted GU Stroopwafels. Once the Sun hit our camp everything warmed up and we were on our way, albeit a bit later, once again... but it was still early in the trip and a certain level of leisure was being obtained.
The day's hike would go up in two pieces, the first to Lyell Fork bridge, the up and over Donohue Pass at 11,000' roughly 6 miles from our camp.
We arrived at the bridge in time for lunch. The cool stream was a welcome refreshment.
The climb out would really test me. I had been trying to figure out a pace that would not leave me totally spent. Moderating my exertion to be less than maximum output was a priority, the first day I was unable to eat or drink much after noon, and even at dinner time I wasn't very interested in dinner.
On this day I determined to move at a pace that allowed me to breath through my nose. That seemed simple enough, and it was slower. Stephanie's aerobic capacity was/is much better than mine, and it was a concern that I had regarding the trip. Could I actually do it?
The good news of the day was that the packs didn't seem all that heavy, certainly not the boat anchors imagined on the hike out of Tuolumne Meadows. The country we were hiking through was also much more alpine, and dramatic.
Stephanie had plenty of time to capture images of my labors, here above what is referred to as "upper Lyell base camp"
The views are always spectacular and it is with singular pleasure to look back over where you had just come from, awed by the results of just putting one foot in front of the other.
After a long time, we arrive at Donohue Pass at 3pm. The resident ranger checked out our wilderness pass. She had quite a crowd up on the pass, mostly hikers headed north into Yosemite. We rested up and had our picture taken at the Ansel Adams Wilderness boundary sign, we had finally made it out of YNP!
I managed a smile here... and probably wasn't as bad off as I felt. We had a ways to go, by our new plan, but mostly downhill.
As we descended towards Rush Creek I started to become very tired. We got about 2 more miles and I really wanted to stop for the day. My fatigue was a real worry, certainly we were going to go up over higher passes, but my slow pace seemed to suggest that we might not be able to go as far as we planned for this trip. I was bummed.
We setup camp, made dinner and got through the cleanup. Stephanie had time to breakout her camera and play around with it for the first time on the trip. We were camped at a very beautiful spot, it didn't really matter what the schedule was now, the trip had taken over the plan.
Day 3 had us 9 miles further along, after climbing over the 11,060' Donohue Pass. Total altitude gained was 2621' and lost 1316'; the day 3 kml file.
I'm enjoying your account, Ed. I hope you'll post more installments.
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Ed Hartouni is a physicist and a climber who lives in Livermore, California.
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