Day 44 – June 7th
Start: thousand island lake, mile 922
End: Yosemite valley via tuolumne meadow, mile 939

What a great place to sleep, cowboy camped next to thousand island lake. We wake early to a bright sun lighting banner peaks east facing walls. Dew covers everything. Sleeping bag, backpack. Shoes are frozen solid. I jam my feet into the shoes to warm them, and begin packing my bag as I enjoy the view. I’m the last one out of camp, and slowly make my way up to island pass. I catch up with carrot and Bearclaw, and eventually lose sight of them.

I continue on the familiar trail up to Donahue pass on my own, listening to the flowing water beneath my feet. Everything is melting, turning the trail into a muddy creek. Once at the summit I break to eat and hydrate, enjoying views down to Lyell canyon. Tuolumne meadows is just beyond my view, but I know there’s a resupply waiting for me there, so I pack up and head out.

No more than a hundred steps in and I hear “twinkle!” Yelled in a southern accent. It’s Guthrie, and he’s breaking with sheriff. They were hidden behind some rocks to avoid the breeze.

They joined me on the way down, finding the trail and making our way off the mountains into the canyon. After several fords, and a few thousand feet decline, we arrive at the end of Lyell canyon. From here, it’s 10 miles to tuolumne meadows.

The trail hugs the stream through sense woods mixed with open grassy fields. We decide to break under a tree next to the creek a good ways from the trail. The grass is soft, and we break for nearly an hour.

Another two hours of easy cruising and we arrive at tuolumne meadows general store. Tiny, twig, lead dog, and several other hikers are there to greet us. Not a chance and Mack already hitched to the valley.

The nice people at the store get my resupplies for me, even though the small post is closed. I get all my food, some memory cards from badger, a great box and birthday card from my grandparents. It’s great to hear from them.

I also get a nice note from my good friend Libby. She’s going to hike old rag mountain in Shenandoah, and that makes me real happy, and a bit jealous. That mountain is my favorite that I’ve done east of the Rockies. Libby tells me that she also recently got into a few med schools, which is even better news. It’s great to get letters from her and my grandparents, hearing of the outside world and how they’re doing. Out here on the trail it’s easy to get wrapped up in this linear lifestyle, and forget that so much is happening back in the ‘real’ world. Always nice to get a Letter and hear how others are doing.

Sheriff carrot and I finish gorging on food and walk to the road to hitch into the valley. Everyone else is at the road hitching, and we make it a race to the valley. A nice lady with her young son offer us a ride Before our friends. Thank god for carrot, so much easier hitching with a female. I felt bad for the rest of our group, 7 dudes trying to get a ride. Near impossible.

The lady drops us off 4 miles from the valley where she has to turn off. We get back to the road and quickly to get a ride down to the valley. Soon after we are picked up by Javier. He’s a really nice man, going to the valley for a quick trail run. He’s from Spain, and is here with his family for a few weeks. It’s fun talking with him, and he drops us off right in the valley.

The three of us walk around a bit, taking in views of half dome and el capitan. Eventually we make it to Yosemite village. We get up to the pizza loft, and meet Allison. She’s young and cute, and actually talks to Sheriff and I, despite our appearance and the musty cloud of filth that follow us. She’s working at the pizza loft, and gives us everyone’s leftover pizza as they leave their tables. That makes her infinitely cuter. We don’t even have to go to the tables to bum pizza. It’s amazing. She even gives us her meal of lasagna. We’re in heaven.

We meet with our friends at the backpackers camp in the valley, as all gather around a picnic table telling stories. Twig, lead dog, carrot, tiny, Guthrie, mack, not a chance, and I all listen to sheriffs story of his crazy drug dealer hitch he got while in lone pine. We all laugh as he recounts going 98mph between lone pine and independence while the stoned driver told stories of the first two times he crashed on that stretch of highway.

We all retire to our bags and sleep under giant pines in the valley, waking occasionally to the sounds of sleepers waking up to yell bears out of the campground. There’s bears everywhere down in the valley, and it makes sense. We’re all wrapped in our sleeping bags, like giant bear burritos. I’m not scared. I sleep like a baby.