I had planned a fairly early start, but in the end I didn’t set off until after 8. I was a bit better organised yet still had a bit too much faffing around. It had got down to around 6 degrees last night so there was a nice chill in the air.
The day started well across the flat meadow for around a mile. The path climbed steeply below the Columbia Finger and yet again I struggled, the climb was only around 200m yet I must have taken around an hour. Another JMT’er stopped for a chat. It only gets harder was his great advice!
The path dropped into another nice meadow above Cathedral Pass. There wasn’t much in the way of flowing water around and I had begun to ration my supply. The views over Cathedral Lakes were great. It was very quiet along this section and it was great to stop and relax for a while. I could of detoured down to Cathedral Lakes for water but decided to push on.
After the Lake junction the trail got pretty busy with day hikers coming up from the Tuolumne. Met some more JMT’ers, quite a few going in the opposite direction, all stating that it’s because the hike up from the valley is too hard.
Dropping down towards the meadow I started to notice some smoke. It had been clear blue skies all the way so it looked like there was a possibly a fire in the meadow area. Not long after Cathedral Creek (good water!) the sky turned pinky/orange as smoke blocked the sun. Something was burning quite badly, but being in the woods it was hard to tell where the fire was.
The facilities at Tuolumne are pretty stretched out along the highway. The grill was open and it was burger time! I wasn’t expecting the words ‘ So you made it’ as I walked through the door and it took me a second to realise the girl behind the counter had been walking the trail in the opposite direction at Clouds rest junction a few days earlier.
A short cut through the woods behind the store led to the campground. It was mostly RV’s and car camping but a quiet area up on a small hill was set aside for backpackers. As it was a Sunday I couldn’t collect my resupply till 10 the next day, so that helped persuade me to take a zero day tomorrow. After four days I felt I had earned it!