SHR Day 17 – Vogelsang (27), Tuolumne (28)

Lyle Fork to Tuolumne Meadows

I wake in total darkness and begin packing up. I am hoping to get an early jump on what seems like a long day. Kevin, however, seems less concerned. My packing does not seem to disturb him in the least. He eventually comes around, and we are on the trail by 6:30am.

We begin a long upward traverse along spectacular cliffs overlooking Lyell Creek. We are salmon headed up against a sea of Conservation Corp trail workers, coming down to work the Isberg Pass Trail. We eventually come upon their massive encampment, with comically large everything: huge tarp buildings, pots I could climb into and bathe, giant hanging ladles. It reminds me of Buster Keaton cooking in the galley of an huge abandoned ship. Well, I doubt it would remind anyone else, but it does me.

Vogelsang Pass

Vogelsang Pass

We then drop down the zig zaggy switchbacks to Lewis Creek. We snack, with me dreading the long up towards Vogelsang Pass. It takes several more snacks, electrolytes, and Kevin’s patience to get me to the top. After a brief rest, we meander down and over the gentle Tuolumne Pass.

From Tuolumne Pass, the rest of the day is a long, long down by Rafferty Creek. The creek, however, is missing one key ingredient: water. The down is easier on me than the up, but the trail has a nasty design. Every 10 or so feet, there is a massive granite block/drop. I am sure it is designed to prevent erosion, but it is momentous and painfully jarring on my internal organs, which it turns out is most of them.

We drop down into Tuolumne Meadow, and join the PCT/JMT for a march to the campground, and more importantly, the Post Office, store, and hamburger joint. The hamburgers are mediocre at best, but our standards are pretty low. Both our packages are at the PO, so we will have food for the next leg, and a SPOT so Terri will know when and where to get us.

We are now trying to sleep in the $6/person backpackers campground. A ranger is doing his best to host a rousing campfire program about trees, which to us, is way more noise than we actually want. He just told the crowd there is a 40% chance of thunderstorms the next few days. I really do not like this chipper ranger.

Tomorrow we start the final leg of our trip, thunderstorms or not.