So after Mexican food and margaritas at Roberto’s in Mammoth Lakes, and a fitful night’s sleep at the Quality Inn…we were actually too warm, we headed with our son and his girlfriend to Yosemite Valley to pick up his truck. I’m not going to lie, we were a little bummed to have cut this adventure short, and we’re wondering if we were being pussies and/or a little too cautious. Considering that one of the girl’s newly purchased mircospikes was defective and required an on-trail “McGyver” repair, and that their sleeping bags were NOT living up to their temperature rating, as well as the fact that one of the girls was sporting nasty and painful heal blisters, we WERE, working on a recipe for disaster.
Still, it wasn’t until rain hit our windshield, and the outside temperature gauge read 34° as we drove through the East entrance of Yosemite that we began to feel even more justified with our decision. The mountains to our left (that included Donahue Pass) were engulfed in a giant dark cloud. If it was 34° here, what un-godly temperature was it at Donahue Pass, and what would it have been trompsing through to Cathedral Pass and then down to Yosemite Valley? I suspect we would have been working on a good case of trench foot by then.
As we continued on Tioga Rd toward Yosemite Valley, and Half Dome Village, all of the Tuoloumne area was swallowed up in a dense fog. As we passed the lookout at Olmsted point, the visibility was near zero. The canyon to the right of the road toward Yosemite Valley, carved by the Merced river, was nowhere to be seen. By the time we got to the Valley floor, El Capitan, Half Dome and upper Yosemite Falls were “missing”. By the time we got to our son’s truck we felt seriously vindicated, in that even if we had continued we wouldn’t have been able to see “jack crap”…and therefore would have frozen our butts off for no good reason! To top it off, we read that on that Monday afternoon (while we were first dropping off the truck) a man had slipped off the cables while climbing Half Dome, and had fallen to his death. Moisture, cold and climbing, are always a bad combination. So, it seems that our adventure ended appropriately and in a timely fashion for all involved. And the beer we stashed in the creek at the Cathedral Lake trail head was still there. We each cracked one open. Although it was icy cold, it wasn’t as refreshing as it would have been having hiked up to it. On the way out of the park near the Wilderness permit office we found two PCT hikers (who had passed us as we were headed back to Agnew Meadows) and offered them beers. We asked how Donahue Pass was and how far the snow crept into the Lyle Creek meadow. “Oh, we postholed a bit up and over the Pass”, they replied with a sigh and wagging of their heads. They also told us that there was snow all the way to the meadow. So, it looks like we chose the best and safest option for our group. In reading a few of this year’s PCT blogs, many are still holding back from entering the Sierras, which in this case, and considering our recent experience, might be a pretty good idea.
With nothing much better to do, and considering it was Memorial Day Weekend, it seemed only prudent to head to Mule Days in Bishop, and check out the festivities! We have driven through Bishop for decades on our way to Mammoth and elsewhere, and have always seen the sign advertising “Mule Days” for Memorial Day weekend, but had never taken the time to go. This time, it seemed like the planets had alined and it was time to check this off the “bucket list”.
Mule Days, here we come!