Day 52: Into The Unknown

Mile reached: 973.4 (+25.1)

High: Crossed several awesome granite canyons that I had no idea existed.

Low: It was cool and windy making it hard to stop and enjoy some of the views, because I’d get cold.

I woke up to a spectacular sunrise that illuminated the granite cliffs towering above the Toulomne. Amazingly, this was the first day in what seemed like a while that I had no schedule to keep. So, I took my time enjoying the morning.

Once I got packed up and back on the trail, I was now entering uncharted territory! I had never been north of the Toulomne and south of Ebbets Pass much less have any clue what was even there. From Glen Aulin I was treated to a gradual climb though forests and large meadows dwarfed by granite mountains. I spontaneously uttered under my breath “This is amazing” numerous times (suck on that, Trout).

Meadows are nice unless they are muddy.
Looking down into Virginia Canyon. Rather than go up the canyons, the trail just cuts across them.

As the day drew on, the beauty of the scenery was, however, offset by aggressive climbs and raging rivers. I slipped in Return Creek and ended up waist deep in freezing water at which point I might have screamed like a little girl. A few minutes later, “Classic” arrived and crossed much more skillfully than I.

Return Creek and the deep ford

He thru-hiked the trail in 2015 and was back to do Tehachappi to Tahoe. I had first met him at VVR and then caught up to him at the Toulomne Meadows General Store, where we drank a beer together. Since he was quite fast, we ended up leapfrogging each other for most of the day.

While I had slowed down and waited at VVR, a number of other hikers I knew had passed me. Throughout the day I caught many of them. Apparently, I had passed “Phoenix” at some point and didn’t even realize it.

Three hikers got goaded into swimming in the lake, which they seriously regretted after getting out.
Ok, the canyons are beautiful, but cutting across them was getting tiring.
The canyon valley is so much flatter, why aren’t we going up this?

In the afternoon, the sky threatened to storm, and it was difficult to stay warm. However, the canyons became even more impressive beginning to rival the granduer of Yosemite Valley but with no one in them. I camped in the side of one such canyon and enjoyed the view for a while. The odds of rain were low, but the sky still threatened. So, I begrudgingly set up my tent, which was quite a pain to do in decomposed granite.

So much granite!
I crossed probably the biggest river yet at the end of the day, and it was loaded with foot long trout.

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