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Chris Bycroft | profile | all galleries >> John Muir Trail 2010 >> Part 2: Tuolumne Meadows to Red Meadows tree view | thumbnails | slideshow | map

Part 2: Tuolumne Meadows to Red Meadows

The second of c.5 stages of photos along the John Muir Trail (JMT). This section was days 5-7 of 21 days on the JMT between 20 August and 22 August 2010. This covered trail distance of 24 miles to 58 miles (c.33 miles total) and crossed two major passes; Donohue Pass and Island Pass.

Day 5: 20 August 2010. We awoke in the morning to “Bear, Bear get out of here”, after we had heard one snorting past us several times during the night. The bear did not bother us. After breakfast and packing we headed off to the store, and caught the first morning shuttle to restart our trip from where we had got to the previous day along the JMT. We saw a few mule deer around Tuolumne Meadows. We then headed up Lyell Canyon which took us most the whole morning to get to the head of it (Lyell Forks). We passed several impressive rapids and enjoyed the perfect weather. There were a lot of attractive meadows around Lyell Fork with common gentians and yarrow. There were some good reflections in Lyell Fork of the surrounding mountains. We had a late lunch as we way up the slopes above Lyell Forks at a campsite near a bridge over Lyell Fork. We headed on to the first lake below Donohue Pass and decided we had done enough for the day at about 4pm. Our campsite was beneath some whitebark pines near the lake at 10,190 feet. I spent a bit of time taking photographs of the views and flowers. There were some impressive shooting star (Dodecatheon sp) flowers, red paintbrushes (Castilleja sp), and elephant's head (Pedicularis groenlandica) flowers. Distance travelled on Day 5: 10.6 miles. Campground 8,585 feet, Started walking Tuolumne Sierra High Camp junction: 8,680 feet. Lower lake below Donohue Pass 10,185 feet. Minimum altitude gain 1,505 feet.

Day 6: 21 August 2010. After a relatively early start we headed up towards Donohue Pass. On the way up to the pass we past a couple of alpine lakes and had impressive views down Lyell Canyon and towards Mt Lyell. Just past the first lake I took a tumble and twisted my ankle and gave my knee a fresh painting of red goo. After taking the excuse for a couple of photos we soon made our way to the top of Donohue Pass which is the boundary between Yosemite National Park and Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. The weather appeared to be changing so we did not procrastinate on the top of the pass for long. We were soon past by another JMT walker who had camped at Lyell Forks the night before. He had been hassled by a bear for most of the night and had started walking again at 3 am as the bear growled at him. He had definitely had enough of bears. The trail was relatively busy and we appeared to be meeting lots of people out for shorter duration trips. I then realised it was the weekend. We soon headed downhill to Rush Creek passing several alpine creeks with common red paintbrushes, and Arctic willows and then up to Island Pass where we had lunch. We were talking to some other trampers when I spotted a red fox with a recently killed chipmunk in its mouth. It seemed very shocked to see us and very proud of its catch, but it quickly took off. The weather was getting considerably cooler as we headed towards Thousand Island Lake, which does not have anything like 1,000 islands. Banner Peak was prominent beyond the far shoreline of the lake. We stopped for a few photos, but as the weather got cooler and windier we soon continued on towards Garnet Lake. Garnet Lake also had lots of small islands and views of Mt Ritter and Mt Banner. We spent some time looking for a campsite during a windy evening. We decided to walk for c.0.6 mile along the northern shoreline of Garnet Lake. We found a good relatively sheltered site on some sand amongst the rocks. I was teased by a bear in the middle of the night, but woke up to find it was only an imaginary one in my dream. May be the altitude was messing with my mind a little. Distance travelled on Day 6: 11.3 miles. Key points: Donohue Pass: 11,060 feet; Rush Creek: 9,640 feet; Island Pass: 10,205 feet; Thousand Island Lake: 9,830 feet; Garnet Lake: 9,680 feet.

Day 7: 22 August 2010. We got up early after a particularly windy night. The day began with a particularly dramatic sunrise, with the red-orange colours projected onto Mt Ritter and Banner Peak. After breakfast we soon returned the 0.6 miles to the JMT. After a very windy crossing of the stream that flows out of Garnet Lake we headed uphill over a small Saddle and then down into Shadow Creek. This was a fast flowing waterway and we filtered and filled up our water containers. A ranger asked if we were camping in the area, as this was a no camp zone. We obviously were not camping near Shadow Creek but we had just past another group that was. Not sure if they got questioned or not. We then past a number of small lakes including Shadow Lake, Rosalie Lake and Gladys Lake. We had a short break a Gladys Lake – the weather was improving again. We then began the long decent down to Red Meadows. We were surprised to reach Johnston Meadows much quicker than expected. We had lunch near a stream shortly after. A worker from Red Meadows past us with a group of horses and a dog following behind. The track surface had become pumice sand. The afternoon walk was very hot and we decided to leave the JMT and head to Red Meadows via the Devils Postpile Monument. I took a photo sitting down in the heat, and some smart alec women said to me that I did not look very professional taking a photo like that. I just didn’t want to take my pack off. Anyway for the record the photo is ok considering that the lighting was not that great anyway, and I am certainly not a professional photographer. I guess I was not in a photography mood – as I did not take that many photos on this day of the walk. We got a bottle of coke each at the Red Meadows store and then set up camp in the campground. One of the campers offered to let us share his campsite. He was from Austin, Texas and was travelling very light compared with us. I had a shower in the geothermal soda springs, which were a good temperature. This was the first shower of the trip and I lost a lot of suntan in the shower – which was really dirt. We then went to the store and got a few food items for the next stage of the JMT. We had dinner at the restaurant – which was a bizarre eating experience. We got some sort of burger and salad, and I had a root beer. It seemed like the junior staff member was doing all the work while the more experienced staff watched. It was very disorganised, but a good feed. We ordered a berry pie with ice-cream but the order never came. Summary of Day 6: c. 13 miles. Key points Garnet Lake: 9,680 feet; Shadow Lake: 8,760 feet; Gladys Lake: 9,575 feet; Johnston Meadows: 8120 feet; and Red Meadows: 7,475 feet.
Day 5:  20 August 2010.  Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground
Day 5: 20 August 2010. Tuolumne Meadows backpackers campground
Mule Deer at Tuolumne Meadows
Mule Deer at Tuolumne Meadows
Onwards to Donohue Pass
Onwards to Donohue Pass
JMTsomewhere in Lyell Canyon
JMTsomewhere in Lyell Canyon
Lyell Fork in Lyell Canyon
Lyell Fork in Lyell Canyon
Sierra gentian
Sierra gentian
Sierra gentian
Sierra gentian
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Rapids of Lyell Fork, Lyell Canyon
Meadows of Lyell Canyon
Meadows of Lyell Canyon
View during break
View during break
Lyell Canyon (view from where we had come from)
Lyell Canyon (view from where we had come from)
Meadows down valley, Lyell Canyon
Meadows down valley, Lyell Canyon
Reflections.  Upper end of meadows, Lyell Canyon
Reflections. Upper end of meadows, Lyell Canyon
Meadows of upper Lyell Canyon.  Route to Donohue Pass ahead.
Meadows of upper Lyell Canyon. Route to Donohue Pass ahead.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
View back down valley - on route towards Donohue Pass from Lyell Canyon
View back down valley - on route towards Donohue Pass from Lyell Canyon
Lower lake below Donohue Pass
Lower lake below Donohue Pass
Red paintbushes in meadow
Red paintbushes in meadow
Giant red paintbrush flowers
Giant red paintbrush flowers
Red paintbrush flower
Red paintbrush flower
Giant red paintbursh flower
Giant red paintbursh flower
Giant red paintbrush flower
Giant red paintbrush flower
Elephant's Head flowers
Elephant's Head flowers
Elephant's head flowers
Elephant's head flowers
A yellow daisy
A yellow daisy
Shooting star flowers
Shooting star flowers
Shooting star flower
Shooting star flower
Whitebark pine
Whitebark pine
Whitebark pine bark
Whitebark pine bark
A multi-stemmed trunk of whitebark pine
A multi-stemmed trunk of whitebark pine
Mt Lyell, from lower lake below Donohue Pass
Mt Lyell, from lower lake below Donohue Pass
Pano of two photos, lower lake below Donohue Pass
Pano of two photos, lower lake below Donohue Pass
Evening light - lower lake below Donohue Pass
Evening light - lower lake below Donohue Pass
Tent site
Tent site
Moon rise, before heading for the tent
Moon rise, before heading for the tent
Day 6:  21 August 2010.  View back towards lake we camped beside the previous night
Day 6: 21 August 2010. View back towards lake we camped beside the previous night
Previous campsite
Previous campsite
Roy, northwest of Donohue Pass
Roy, northwest of Donohue Pass
Lake, northwest of Donohue Pass
Lake, northwest of Donohue Pass
View down Lyell Canyon.
View down Lyell Canyon.
View of Mt Lyell, before heading to Donohue Pass
View of Mt Lyell, before heading to Donohue Pass
Final tarn before Donohue Pass
Final tarn before Donohue Pass
Reading the park rules, as we leave.  Donohue Pass.
Reading the park rules, as we leave. Donohue Pass.
Entering Ansel Adams Wilderness Area.
Entering Ansel Adams Wilderness Area.
Final view northwest from Donohue Pass (11,060 feet)
Final view northwest from Donohue Pass (11,060 feet)
Red paintbrush flowers beside alpine stream
Red paintbrush flowers beside alpine stream
South of Donohue Pass
South of Donohue Pass
Arctic willow and red paintbrushes, south of Donohue Pass
Arctic willow and red paintbrushes, south of Donohue Pass
Stream reflections
Stream reflections
Island Pass Lakelet, Ritter Range behind
Island Pass Lakelet, Ritter Range behind
Pano of three photos.  Island Pass Lakelet
Pano of three photos. Island Pass Lakelet
Banner Peak, beyond Thousand Island Lake
Banner Peak, beyond Thousand Island Lake
Banner Peak, beyond Thousand Island Lake
Banner Peak, beyond Thousand Island Lake
Thousand Island Lake, Please SCROLL to the right (a panorama of six photos)
Thousand Island Lake, Please SCROLL to the right (a panorama of six photos)
Thousand Island Lake, Banner Peak.
Thousand Island Lake, Banner Peak.
Garnet Lake with Mt Ritter and Banner Peak of the Ritter Range
Garnet Lake with Mt Ritter and Banner Peak of the Ritter Range
Garnet Lake with Mt Ritter and Banner Peak of the Ritter Range
Garnet Lake with Mt Ritter and Banner Peak of the Ritter Range
Day 7:  August 22 2010.  Sunrise at Garnet Lake.
Day 7: August 22 2010. Sunrise at Garnet Lake.
Sunrise of Mt Ritter and Banner Peak.
Sunrise of Mt Ritter and Banner Peak.
The campsite, near Garnet Lake
The campsite, near Garnet Lake
Leaving Garnet Lake
Leaving Garnet Lake
Gladys Lake
Gladys Lake
Basaltic columns; Devils Postpile National Monument
Basaltic columns; Devils Postpile National Monument
Red Meadows
Red Meadows