This section was quite an entrance into the Sierra.
What a welcome!
The high elevation was really affecting my breathing, and I'd get out of breath much quicker than before. We were out of the vegetation now, and it was mostly rocks and sand now. Being that high up with no obstructions meant some pretty epic views.
Literally nothing blocking my views
A large part of that first day was along a ridge. It was the first time I'd had to walk on snow since Washington. I was pretty sure we wouldn't run into much snow in the Sierra this late in the season, and I was glad. This ridge was giving me the feeling that having to traverse it in snow could get dicey. Even that small snow section made me a little nervous!
This definitely would give me anxiety in snow
We also started seeing ponds and lakes. I love alpine lakes, and I hike to them often in Washington, so seeing them in California made me very happy. There were some I would have loved to dip my feet into, but it was getting far too cold for that to be pleasant. Still, sitting at one for a break or for lunch was something I tried to do. I got a little frustrated at points, because I knew I had to make at least some miles that day in order to get to town on the food I had, but I also wanted to take a long break at a nice sitting spot next to a calm lake.
Sitting here longer meant hiking later, but I was okay with that
I was also happy to not be alone again. Like I've said before, Yahtzee and I pace each other quite well, and had similar mileage goals, so it was pretty easy to camp together most nights. We even hiked together sometimes. After we left South Lake Tahoe, it seemed like the trail really cleared up, and all that was left were SOBOs and late-season John Muir Trail hikers. It was actually nice to know I could talk to another human at the end of the day.
Still, clear waters
Oh, and the weather was incredible. Barely a cloud in the sky, not humid in the slightest, just sun. It also wasn't that cold except in the morning and at night, so as long as I hiked in my puffy or fleece, I was perfectly happy.
Nothing but blue skies do I see
I knew I had to get to Tuolumne Meadows in the afternoon that day to pick up a package, so I hiked pretty quickly. It was flat the several miles to Tuolumne Meadows, which I was grateful for after the workout the Sierra section was giving me already.
When I got to the general store/post office, there was a lot of stuff going on. We knew we were arriving at Tuolumne Meadows the day before the general store and restaurant were closing for the season because we were hiking late in the season. But apparently it was supposed to snow and get down to around 10°F that night (spoke too soon about that weather, oops!), so Yahtzee and I talked it over and decided to head into Lee Vining, the next town over.
We got a hitch from a nice guy named Byron in his truck. He told us about how he and his partner used to own a farm, but more recently decided to hitch a horse trailer to their truck and start living on the road, staying in national parks and forests. We really appreciated the ride, and when we got to Lee Vining, we met up with a few other hikers (Blade, Super J, and Dreamwalker, whom I had previously met right outside of Burney
and cowboy-camped with) and split a room at a hotel in town. There, we also met Schoolbag and Peak Freak, who had also chosen to wait out the storm. None of us wanted to be outside if it really got to be 10°F.
Good company with good coffee
Unfortunately, we didn't know that the road back into Yosemite, Tioga Road, was going to close to all traffic due to the weather. And they wouldn't tell us when the road would reopen, so we were stuck in town. We decided to wait it out another night in Lee Vining, and take an impromptu zero. There wasn't much to do in Lee Vining, but they did have some great coffee at the Latte Da Cafe, and there was a super random upside-down house in the center of town.
I didn't know why this was here, but I liked it
Plus, you'll never hear me complain about impromptu zeroes.