Day 48: Donohue Pass

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Mile 906.6 to mile 933.0 (26.4 miles, 42.5km)

After a delicious and healthy breakfast of fruit salad, yogurt, bakery pastry and OJ, I hit the road, walking up to The Village and jumped on the first bus back to Red Meadows.

The first miles were difficult as always with a restock of food and filled bottles of water but for a week or so I’ve been having issues with my pack. It’s new(ish) and the exact same model as I used in New Zealand, plus I’m carrying less weight. It is sitting more on my shoulders than it should and pressing on a nerve on my left side. Ibuprofen helps but I don’t want to have to munch on that every single day. It may be the way I’ve distributed the weight inside with the bear canister riding at the top because who wants to have to pull their pack apart to access food. I have tried having the canister at the bottom but the rounded shape digs into my lower back. I’m going to persist until South Lake Tahoe when I can off load the can and if things don’t improve I’m going to have to look at an alternative.

My waist line is shrinking quite a bit and I only have a few inches left on the hip belt adjustment on the pack too. Once their is no more adjustment I’m not sure what to do, maybe pad the hip belt out with some foam pad or something like that.

Anyway, from Red Meadows the trail basically follows north along the Middle Fork San Joaquin River, crossing over on a bridge which is great because I don’t particularly want to ford that river – it’s impressive.

North of Agnew Meadows there were fantastic views of the Minarets out to the west. Free of tree cover and up high you could look right across the valley to the multiple spires that make up the Minarets and several waterfalls spiralling down to the San Joaquin.

A few miles on and it was over to the northern edge of the 1000 Island Lake. Quite a big alpine lake, with as the name suggests, numerous granite boulders (islands) poking out, all backdropped by 12000ft snowy peaks.

Island Pass at just over 10000ft had to be crossed but it barely even registered as a pass. It was quite flat with a really gradual climb up and snow free.

Donohue Pass was only a few miles off and I decided to press on and get over this today as well. This was a more difficult climb, heading back up to 11000ft with more of those huge rock steps that Parks love to put in. I don’t know why, maybe they are for the horses, but I’ve yet to see a horse on the trail so far. You can tell that most hikers don’t like them either from the food pad that is present, it is evident that most go around them, creating new tracks.

Donohue was mostly snow free. Only a few short sections to cross. I was on top just after 4pm and stayed for a good half hour break.

From the north side of the pass we’re pretty much in the Yosemite National Park.

Descending down from the pass scored impressive views down into a new valley with wide open meadows and the Lyell River cutting through it bursting with snow melt.

And now that I’ve just had a cry about the poor rock work and high steps on the south side of the pass, I’m full of praise for the stonemasons on the north side of the pass in Yosemite. Now they know how to build a trail. Small steps!! Yay. Or flat paved areas. Nice work crew.

I pushed on for another 4 mile or so, seeing that it was all downhill for the rest of the day, pulling up stumps at a small campsite with enough room for 3 or 4 tents at mile 933. A nice sheltered site not far from water. There were two tents already here, both weekend warriors travelling south bound.

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