Cowboying at Tuolumne Meadows Campground (PCT mi 942.5), walked ~28 miles today
Struggled mightily to get up and moving at about 6:30, didn't leave til 7:15 at which point Halfway was long gone. Yogi had claimed that the PCT side of the valley (which we were on) was DEFINITELY not as scenic as the JMT side, but I don't really see how that could be, as the views all morning were pretty freakin quality. At one point watched a mama bird feeding her two chicks, which were almost adult sized ... They kept pushing and screaming the bird equivalent of "MOM! MOM! MOM!" and then finally the mama bird flipped out, attacked back and basically shoved them off the tree trunk and made a noise that sounds a lot like what the Monty Python guys do when they're dressed as women and they're screaming ... I translated this into bird language as, "Stop fucking bothering me and go find your own damn food!"
Intense mosquitos at Thousand Island Lake kept me moving, eventually ran back into Two Hats from yesterday (no relation to Three Hats from the AT), he and I walked and talked for some of the way up Donohue Pass, then sat and chatted at the top some more. A laughably easy pass compared to most of the previous ones, we were at the top about 20 minutes before I expected to even see it. Barely any snow, despite reports from previous years that it was the snowiest pass of them all.
Started down from there about 2:30 knowing that we had 12+ miles to go to Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, where they serve dinner from 6-8. I did a good old fashioned town sprint, barely took a break--to be fair, the last 8+ miles through Lyell Canyon were utterly flat--and got there at 6:30ish. I was expecting Two Hats to be right behind me but something tells me he's got too much of his own food already and was happy to eat that for dinner instead tonight. Never saw him. Made a reservation (hoo hoo hooo) for 7:30 and got seated with two families, both with matriarchs named Karen, and both who ended up with the address to this blog and are probably reading it now, so I won't say all the nasty things I privately thought about them. Jaykay, it was a really good time with everyone, and dinner, while kind of expensive, was filling, mostly because of the unlimited salad and bread. May have possibly given someone the inspiration to thru-hike in two or three years, in which case I should win a toaster or something.
Despite my best efforts, could not yogi a ride to the campground 1.5 miles away with anyone, so I walked it as it got dark. By the time I got here, it was pitch black, there were fires burning everywhere in the distance with strangers moving about them like something from The Road, I was on foot, and the whole campground is a bunch of arbitrary loops and then the backpackers' area is way the hell off in the woods behind all that. When I finally did make it to the hiker area I practically tripped over two separate people cowboy camping and nearly walked into a tent. Eventually found a site for myself, I think, but I'm probably going to wake up tomorrow morning right next to a bunch of really puzzled JMTers. It was stressful and I'm going to bed now ... It's 10:30, which is insanely late by hiking standards. Tomorrow I'm going to take it easy in the morning unless the mosquitos come for me at 5:30 (the big risk of cowboy camping around here), go to the store for some resupply, then drift out in the midday sometime.