Day 14: Down in the Valley, the Valley So Low

1 August 2020 JMT Cloud’s Rest Trail to Happy Isles (8.9 miles, +900/-3,200 feet) Today was our triumphant finish!  Bishop to Yosemite Valley, nearly 150 miles in two weeks. But it was a very strange ending.  This is obviously some of the most dramatic scenery on Earth, but it was sometimes hard to appreciate with…

Day 13: DA BEARS!

31 July 2020 JMT Lower Cathedral Lake to Clouds Rest Trail (11.7 miles, +1,200/-3,300 feet). We originally planned to camp below Clouds Rest today, but I was worried about trying to do 6,000 feet of descent to the valley floor on our last day.  So we decided to stick to the JMT and split the…

Day 12: Lower Cathedral Lake

30 July 2020 JMT from Ireland Lake Trail to Lower Cathedral Lake (11.2 miles, +1,400/-1,000 feet). Today was sad because we said goodbye to Flower Power who headed back home from Tuolumne. But it was also happy because we camped at Lower Cathedral Lake, one of my favorite of the trip! We broke camp in…

Day 11: Over Donahue Pass to Lyell Canyon

29 July 2020 JMT from Waugh Lake Trail to Ireland Lake Trail (10.4 miles, +1,800/-2,500 feet). We slept really well last night to the tune of Rush Creek, undisturbed by human visitors. We enjoyed breakfast and a sunrise and were on our way. We encountered the large group that camped ahead of us right away…

Isberg Pass

Switchbacks above Lyell Fork to Cora Lakes (15 miles, +1,900/-3,100 feet). We awoke to beautiful light on the Clark Range in the distance. And below we could hear the Lyell Fork rushing down to the Merced over steep, vast, and impossibly smooth granite slabs. Soon we packed up and headed into the woods.  Today we…

Lyell Fork

Lake 10217 to Lake 11311 and back then downstream to Isberg Pass Trail (10 miles, +2,300/-2,700 feet). Today we started with a day hike to explore the upper Lyell Fork.  I’ve mapped it on caltopo, along with our trip yesterday through Bench Canyon: For the most part route finding was straightforward, except the path from…

Bench Canyon

Hemlock Crossing to Lyell Fork of the Merced (10 miles, +4400/-1800 feet). I was hoping a cold morning would reduce the bug pressure, but we didn’t really have one.  The temperatures only dropped into the high 50s so the little bloodsuckers were more than happy to greet us as we exited our tents. We had…

Buena Vista Crest

Lower Merced Lake to Buena Vista Crest to Mono Meadows Trailhead (18 miles, +3,100/-4,600 feet). I was very excited to get up and get started this morning.  Set aside the fact that it was 25 degrees and our water had frozen and I was happy to be moving.  What I was really looking forward to…

Lower Merced Pass Lake

Mono Meadows Trail to Lower Merced Pass Lake (13 miles, +3,000/-1,400 feet). It’s been quite a while since Orion and I did a hike together, so I was really looking forward to our trip to Yosemite. Although the forecast called for lows in the 20s, the weather was bizarrely still quite seasonal, with no snow…

Chilnualna Falls Trail

UC Yosemite Field Station to View of Wawona Dome on the Chilnualna Falls Trail (5 miles, +1,500/-1,500 feet). The University of California has some sweet facilities for hosting conferences, including some at Yosemite, so I reserved one of them in late October for our annual “Human Nature Group Masters” conference of colleagues and UCSD alumni….

Spiller Canyon

Stanton Pass to Tuolumne Meadows (PCT Halfmile 942.7) via Spiller Creek and the PCT (19 miles, +2,000/–3,700 feet). I love sleeping high. No condensation, it’s usually (paradoxically) warmer, and the views are out of this world. We awoke this morning to a light show on Whorl Mountain as the moon faded and the sun blued…

Matterhorn Pass

Return Creek to Stanton Pass via Matterhorn Pass (14 miles, +5,000/-3,000 feet). Our campsite last night was lovely, but the proximity to the river made it cold and damp, creating some decent condensation inside my tent. The first order of business this morning was getting across Return Creek, so we waited until 6am when we…