July 27, 2015
10 miles today, 23 miles total
Sunrise High Sierra Camp to Tuolumne Meadows
I woke up at 5:30am. I had not slept well at all – a common habit for me at the beginning of all backpacking trips – so it was somewhat of a relief to get out of bed and get moving. Unfortunately, it was freezing this morning! Our poor tent was covered in condensation, and as much as we tried to mop it up, it still rained down on us. I set our wet pack towels outside to dry and was shocked to find that they had frozen solid not ten minutes later. And to think I was going to send my warm clothes home! I put on every layer I brought and jumped around camp trying to get warm. Courtney and I packed up our icy, wet tent and hurried to get on trail so we could warm up.
The hike out of High Sierra Camp had a small, steep climb to Sunrise Pass, but we were rewarded with the beauty of Cathedral Mountain and the lake below. It would have been a beautiful place to camp if we had chosen to keep hiking last night. We paused for second breakfast to enjoy the view, and then hiked on. Even though our bodies were warming up with the effort of hiking, we were still cold enough to keep our gloves and sweaters on. The rest of the morning was mostly downhill hiking with a few small uphills scattered in. I was relieved we weren’t spending yet another day climbing – it had been such a haul to get out of Yosemite Valley, going from 4,000 feet to 10,000 feet in two days! Still, my back, shoulders and feet still hurt with the effort and my backpack still felt heavy with the load of gear, water and food. I hoped it would get easier quickly, especially since the altitude was still making the climbs difficult.
At noon Courtney and I reached Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, another slice of civilization – this one swamped by RV campers and tourists. It was doubly strange for me, too, since the last time I had seen Tuolumne was when I hiked through here on the PCT two years ago. By that point I had covered over 900 miles in two months, and since I was going northbound, I had just finished the section Courtney and I were about to hike. I had just experienced the JMT and the beautiful granite passes for the first time, and was still awestruck by it, after months of struggling through the hot Southern California desert. The memories flooded me, and seemed like no time at all had passed since I had been here. I half expected Honey Bunny, or Sunshine, or Rotisserie to come around the corner at any minute to say hello. For many of us that year, Tuolumne marked not only the end of the Sierras, but also a parting of ways for many of the hikers whom I had met and spent so much time with. It was a nostalgic feeling.
Courtney and I hung out at the Tuolumne post office all afternoon, resorting our resupply box and eating burgers from the local café. We also sorted through our gear and mailed a box of extraneous items home so we would have less to carry in the coming days. Sean and Cassidy caught up with us around 4:00pm, so we found a campsite near them at the backpacker’s campground. My phone got a moment of signal so that I was able to call Tanner and let him know that I missed him already.
As the day faded, Courtney and I took bathroom-showers by rinsing out our hair and clothes in the sink, then made dinner over our little cookstove and went to bed at 7:30pm.