Day 19: Coming to Terms

August 4th 2018; Rosalie Lake – Lyell Fork; 16.3 Miles

Last night was the first night on this entire trek that I was actually cold.  Honestly, I can’t complain, especially when I though I’d be cold every single night.  I woke up still half frozen to a beautiful sight – no smoke!  It was perfectly clear. Hope pumped through my veins warming up my body.  Hope that maybe, just maybe, the fire is on its way  to being contained and that Yosemite really will open tomorrow. Fueled by this hope that my trip may not have to be cut short, I packed everything up and set out for today’s hike.

This morning, I passed nothing but lakes.  From Shadow, to Ruby, to Garnet, to Marie, it was nothing but lake after lake that I’ll never be able to keep straight.  Garnet and Thousand Island Lake were the big ones. And they were pretty darn stunning.  In fact, Thousand Island Lake is pretty infamous along the JMT.  Originally, we were going to stay there for a half day.  I scratched that plan last night.  Good thing. Cause only 8 miles from Rosalie Lake, I got there at 10:30am.  I would’ve been quite bored.  Plus a lot of people had the same idea of staying there and it was pretty packed.  Not my kind of scene.

Onward I went to Rush Creek, where I had planned to stay.  Getting there meant going over Island Pass.  Funny thing about Island Pass is you don’t even realize you’re going up it till you’re already over it and on the downhill!  It’s barely a bump in the trail and snuck right up on me, or maybe I snuck right up on it? Either way, it was an anti-climatic pass and as such did not yield any kind of view.

I got to Rush Creek shortly after 1pm.  Still feeling pretty good, I wanted to keep going because I was aware that tomorrow would’ve been a hard and long push to Tuolumne Meadows if I didn’t keep pushing.  So with the attitude of “why put off till tomorrow that which you can do today”, I tossed Judy onto my back and we marched onto Lyell Fork.  Only 4 miles away, it looked like a perfect little spot to stop.  Only problem was it was just past Donahue Pass.  At 11K’, I knew it would be considerably more difficult than Island Pass.  But then again, just about anything is more difficult than Island Pass.I had all the time in the world to get over it, so I wasn’t worried.  After the terrifying incident crossing Silver Pass in a lightning storm, I would prefer to avoid passes in the afternoon.  You just never know when a mega monsoon might rear its ugly head! However, the skies this afternoon were clear – clear of clouds and clear of smoke! Perfect.

During the climb, I had a little blimp of cell service and told my parents that the smoke was gone! Hooray! They don’t have to worry (my mom even sent a picture of Addie in a mask, no doubt showing support).  As soon as I lost reception, the winds picked up and guess what it blew in?! Within minutes, the canyon was full of thick smoke, obscuring any view of my surroundings.  Great. I’ve been looking forward to Donahue Pass for weeks and now I won’t be able to see anything! Oh well, life’s unfair sometimes.

With the wind and smoke and tired legs, the ascend up the pass wasn’t the most fun. But it at least went quickly.  I was officially in Yosemite!!  I got a little emotional at the top.  Donahue is the last pass of the JMT going NOBO, a pass I was certain I’d never get to see when I started.

I made it down to Lyell Fork at 4pm, very weary and glad to have made it.  As I was setting up my tent, it started to rain ash.  All hope I had in the morning was quickly, well, burning up and turning to ash.  I talked with two guys who started in Tuolumne Meadows that morning who had spoken with some rangers before they left.  They said that none of the rangers were optimistic about the park opening tomorrow.  In fact, many of them said they wouldn’t be surprised if it remained closed all season.  That’s when it hit me.  I’m likely going to have to quit tomorrow.  And that is also when I accepted it. I can’t push pas this.  I have to swallow my pride and let the universe have this win. Besides, I cried enough about it in Mammoth.

So it looks like I’ll be ending 20 miles shy of Happy Isles.  But, I already hiked these miles with my family a few years ago, so technically I will have hiked the whole JMT, just not in one shot.

I’m exhausted.  The wind is still kicking around and being annoying.  I have a feeling it’s going to be another cold night.  But it’s the last one so big whoop.  At this point, I can handle it.

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