Just Charlie and I
June 8, 2014
I took advantage of Caleb’s drop off to run home (his wife came to tuolumne and got him) and grab some new gear that arrived later than expected. Those were a new pair of merino wool mittens, some Opsaks so I can carry more food and a large spoon so I’m not getting my knuckles in said food. I savored the zero mile day and jumped on transit the next morning spending over 8 hours on different buses getting myself back to Yosemite. I then had to hitch from the valley with 3 different cars finally getting myself to Tuolumne… Only to find out the post office still wasn’t officially opened yet. Fortunately the post master was a nice dude and got me my packages while they were inventorying. While I was at the Tuolumne store I met a guy named Charlie. Charlie has the smallest backpack I’ve seen on the trail and by his looks I was positive he was crushing miles (moving fast).
At about 3pm I finally got moving into northern Yosemite, an area I’ve never ventured further than Glenn auline in. I managed 11 easy miles and pitched camp at the end of a beautiful meadow so I could get the morning light which I use as my alarm clock and while sitting in my tent I hear footsteps coming by. Glancing out I see Charlie moving briskly by. Slept pretty good that night.
The next morning I hit the trail at 5:45am. I got my camp breakdown from wake up to packed to about 15 minutes which turns out is pretty quick compared to others I’ve camped with. That day I tackled 4 passes, 10 river fords and I slipped a good 12+ times on snow but still managed to do 28 miles. According to halfmile maps it was 6,180 feet in elevation gain. At the end of the day I setup camp on a cliff with a view of a beautiful valley. To top the day off deer popped out of the bushes right in front of my tent and ate for 5 minutes before leaving (I caught it on film).
The following day I once again packed and started moving by 5:45am and before noon I conquered 2 passes. This section is beautiful. I also passed the 1000 milestone!! I setup camp at mile 1007 (a 26 mile day), noted as the last water source for 10 miles which also happens to be by right before the last high pass of the entire trail at 10,900 feet. As I’m sitting in my tent grubbing on peanut butter burritos guess who briskly walks by? Good ol’ Charlie. He stops for a minute to say hi and tells me about the pass ahead. It sounded a bit technical but assures me it’s nothing I haven’t already done and should be a breeze but lots of snow. After hearing that I decide it’s a good idea to sleep in a little so I’m not treading on ice.
That morning I slept till about 7:15am and was working my way up bond pass by 7:40. There was a lot of snow and it was pretty solid which is dangerous to traverse at angles without crampons or micro spikes so I headed straight up some scree to the top of the ridge bypassing most of the snow. The views up there were magnificent. I could see the last 4 passes I had done miles away all capped in snow.
It was mostly easy working my way across the pass with a few hair raising technical spots. It was nice to see miles ahead that most of the peaks were snowless albeit I was looking at the south side which tends to melt quicker. About 4 hours later at noon I was thumbing for a ride into northern Kennedy Meadows and 30 minutes later I was eating a chili burger and reflecting on the past few days with no other than Charlie and Alphabet Soup.
I relaxed for a few hours and headed back to the trail. Next stop, Echo lakes.
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