John Muir Trail Trip Report

Day 3

September 9, 2010

Just before Sunrise High Sierra Camp
to Toulumne Meadows

10.5 miles

Day 3 Profile
JMT Day 3

Day 3
Day 3
Google Maps Terrain
Up today at 6:30
31 degrees out. My fears from last night were unfounded. There was only about an inch of snow. The freezing rain, snow and ice from last night created a layer of ice on the outside of my Tarptent. The inside had a bit of frozen condensation on the walls. It seemed odd to knock off the ice instead of wiping down the walls! So far, condensation on my Tarptent Moment, even in humid conditions on the Superior Hiking Trail, has been comparable to my Contrail and only a mild nuisance. I have never had any water drip onto my bag or inside the tent.

My water bottle was frozen, it was a good thing I was not planning on a hot breakfast!
The sun is out!! Yay!! Although I can appreciate experiencing inclement weather (for a little while!), I really was glad to have bright, sunny weather again. It was still cold, but with the sun out, it got warm quickly once I started hiking.

No bears or other critters last night. I am a bit worried about the temps and how cold I was last night. It was odd, since I have taken this bag/pad combo down to below freezing before and was fine. I usually am hot blooded, and sleep hot. To give perspective, I was wearing Patagonia Cap 3 top and bottoms, wool socks, baclava, and a Montbell down jacket inside my 30 degree bag. My pad was the insulated Big Agnes Air Core with a Gossamer Gear Thinlite insulation pad on the ground. I believe I am colder than usual due to burning more calories than I am eating each day. I have a hard time regulating my body temperature when I am not eating enough to fuel the factory. I'll have to factor this in for future hikes... I decided to check at Tuolumne to see if they have a bag liner.

Snow at camp
  It snowed last night!
Long Meadow
  By Sunrise High Sierra Camp
  Heading to Cathedral Pass

I was less than a mile from High Sierra Camp, and as I approached I could smell bacon and eggs cooking. It smelled great!! I refilled my water bottle at the pump at High Sierra Camp and took a few photos, then headed back down the trail.

The trail between HSC and Cathedral Pass was stunning. Colombia Finger and Long Meadow were my favorites on this section of trail. Cathedral Pass was nice, but certainly not the most impressive pass of the trip. It was one of the easiest passes to get up and over.

Once I got near Cathedral Lakes, the freeway started up again. There were a lot of day hikers coming up from Tuolumne. It was funny, some of those day and overnight hikers had huge, heavy backpacks. I stopped for a few minutes and talked to a couple about my age who were doing a weeklong trip, and averaging 5 miles a day. They told me their packs were over 50 LBS and they were very interested in how I got my pack down to 29 LBS.  What a HUGE difference those extra 20 pounds make. For me, it means the difference between miles of misery versus being able to enjoy the journey and the physical challenge of the hike.

Once I got past Cathedral Lakes, the trail went downhill through pine to Tuolumne Meadows.
I must have missed a sign somewhere along the way since I wound up hitting Hwy 120 highway and hiking along it to TM.

Long Meadow JMT
Long Meadow
Cathedral Peak JMT
Cathedral Peak and Cathedral Lake

The first order of business once I reached Tuolumne Meadows was to get my resupply from the Post Office. The PO closed at 5pm, and I arrived at 3pm so I had plenty of time. I grabbed a cheeseburger and fries at the grill and sat at the tables next to the grill to eat. The food was pretty good compared to trail food!

I walked over to the gear shop, and purchased a sleeping bag liner (cotton and heavy!). They have a pretty good selection for such a tiny little shop. I explored the general store as well. They have enough in the store to do a complete resupply if you choose to do it that way.

Next I headed to the overnight backpackers camp, which is through the regular campsites, and up a little hill over by the campground fire ring. If you plan to use the backpackers camp, make sure you look at the campground maps ahead of time. It might be a little hard to find otherwise. I picked a site, paid my fees, set up camp, and spread out my resupply on the picnic table. I realized that I was not eating nearly as much as I had planned and had way too much food packed. I had a slight headache most of the day today (altitude), and just not feeling hungry most of the time. This seems to be normal for me when I am out backapcking. As I was sitting at the picnic table, a deer stopped by to say hello. It came within 10 feet of me, and was not at all concerned. It grazed for a bit and then moved along.

Toulumne Meadow map

Toulumne Meadow
TM store, grill and Post Office
Deer at campsite
Totally unafraid deer came to visit

There are no showers at Toulumne, so I cleaned up as best I could in the restroom. It was dark by then, and I started to load my food and gear into the bear box. Hmmm... where did I put those hiking poles?? Must have fallen under the table. Nope. Must have leaned them against a tree. Nope. They are gone! Panic... Hiking poles have become a critical piece of gear for me. I'm not sure I could do this hike without them. Brain flash... I remember leaning them against a building down by the Post Office!!! I also remember that the Gear Shop sold hiking poles, so worst case I would be there when they opened in the morning and get a new set. I grabbed my headlamp and headed off down to the Post Office. Not much hope that they would still be there after several hours and tons of people in the area. And yet... there they were. Sweet. I was a happy camper.

Two guys were wandering around in the dark by the post office, and asked me if I knew where the campfire program was. It was right below the backpackers camp, but there was no way they were going to find it in the dark. I told them to follow me, and led them to it. I decided to join them for the program. It was about bats, and reminded me of all the years we enjoyed the Ranger led programs in Kings Canyon NP. Back at camp, I headed for bed. I want to get up a little earlier tomorrow.

Lembert Dome
Lembert Dome in Toulumne Meadows
Toulumne Meadow
Toulumne Meadow

Around 1:00am I was awakened by load voices and banging of bear boxes. Maybe a bear?? No, just rude hikers. They kept everyone awake for 10 minutes before things got quiet again. High was 66 today, so much warmer than yesterday! Tomorrow looks to be an easy day with several miles of flat hiking along Lyell Canyon.

Forward to Day 4

Videos from Day 3

Additional pictures from Day 3