Tuolumne walk-in backpacker camp – Lyell Canyon
8670 – 8900 (+ 230 ft) – @ 5 miles.
Free Maps Online – Day 4 – Map 16, 15, and 14
Another cold night sleeping in almost all my clothes. I am beginning to think that something needs to be done. We are not even at 9,000 feet yet.
Jake and I liked Tuolumne, and the grill, enough that we decided to do another half-day. We would eat breakfast at the grill, then go through our gear and the “new” supplies from our box and collect the excess to leave in the hiker box. Jake was thinking about mailing some stuff home as well. By that time, the grill would be serving lunch and we could eat a little more and pack out more food for another night of “no-cook” town eatin’ out in the woods!
I was also very focused on searching the store for more layers. I needed another shirt of some sort and a winter hat to go over my balaclava at night. If I could buy a sleeping bag or down jacket off a hiker or store worker, I would do that too.
The nice folks at the grill let me leave my phone in there charging while we did chores. I was underwhelmed by the additional warm clothing selection at the store, and was “joking” with the cashier about buying his jacket and he said, “Why don’t you go down the street to the Mountaineering shop?” Turns out that the gas station we had seen has a decent outfitter inside!
One of the nice clerks helped me out and I got both an awesome long sleeve very lightweight (mass that is) fleece shirt and a new synthetic sleeping bag (rated 20 degrees) for less than $150.00! (Thanks Dad!) The sleeping bag I had with me was a synthetic rated at 20 degrees, but it is 16 years old, and because I did not know any better, I kept it inside a stuff sack all those years. I had washed and dried it to try and bring some of the warm and loft back – but my feeling and the best guess of the clerk was that the bag was probably rated between 50 and 60 degrees now.
We bought a combo pack – hat, gloves, and scarf, that came in a bag made of the same soft and warm material as all the items inside. Jake wanted a hat too, so we split it up. He took the hat and scarf and I used the bag they came in as my hat. We mailed my old sleeping bag the new gloves and a few other things back to PA and left a TON of stuff in the hiker box.
Feeling much better about life, we ate a little lunch, packed out more sandwiches for dinner and headed back out on the trail.
We met our first on-duty Ranger in Lyell Canyon as the temperature dropped and the clouds gathered and headed our way. The Ranger did ask if we had a permit, but did not ask to see it. He did not even ask us if we had bear canisters. I guess we seemed like honest folks. He had no real intel to share on the storm and we moved on.
The first mile or two of Lyell Canyon comprises meadows with the now familiar 1-3 foot muddy trench for a trail. Still bent on following the rules, Leave No Trace principles, and wanting to preserve the meadow – I slogged on through the middle of the muddy trench. The the first drops of sleet began to fall, and quickly turned into hail. Luckily, we were just clearing the 4 mile “no camping” zone and in a short time found a place to set-up and ride out the storm.
Just before bed, I took my gross mud covered shoes (I could not even see the laces anymore) to the river and cleaned them. I was almost positive they would freeze overnight regardless. So I chose clean and frozen over gross and frozen.
In other news – i am starting to get blisters on my heels!
I put on my standard sleep gear, plus my new fleece and hat, and i remembered another trick i read somewhere. I put my feet inside an empty stuff sack inside my sleeping bag. What a difference! It was like having foot mittens!
Stay Tuned for Day 5