Hail and rain on my way to Tuolumne.

JMT 2011, Day 17 -- 9/14/11

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Miles Hiked: approximate 22. Final PCT Stop: 941.6, Total PCT miles: 941.6-702.8=238.8, Diff between JMT and PCT is small...

It rained part of the night then it turned cold. We woke about 6:30, but it was hard to get going because everything was wet or frozen, even inside of the tent. The tent was covered in ice. We were finally on the trail at 8:00.

The sky was beautiful, no clouds and a full moon over the lake. We walked around Garnet Lake and then start a climb toward Island Pass. The morning went quick but it still was work going up over Donahue Pass. The sky started to cloud up more and more, so I thought we wouldn't have a chance to dry out.

I got to the top of Donahue at 12:30pm. Wes and Andrew got to the top a few minutes later. I started my lunch but they elected not to stay, because they wanted to see if they could make it to the Tuolumne Grill which closes at 5:00. So they took off.

In the meantime the sun came out for a few minutes so I put out my stuff to dry, and had a leisurely lunch. I finally got restarted at 1:30 and the sky looked very cloudy.

It was a beautiful hike down Donahue and into Tuolumne Meadow. I passed a lot of people working on the trail.

The trail from the top of Donahue to Tuolumne is 12 miles and we all committed to camping at Tuolumne tonight. I wasn't in too much of a hurry since I knew I wouldn't make it before the grill closed.

After reaching the flat part of the meadow, I passed a guy caring a ULA pack. About 5 minutes later we heard very loud thunder and then the sky just poured hail, more than I have ever seen. I stopped to put on my poncho and the guy with the ULA pack caught up. We stood under a tree and watched an amazing down pour of hail. Then it turned into rain. We started hiking in rivers of hail that washed onto the trail because of the rain. Just an amazing experience.

I walk the rest of the 12 miles with the guy carrying the ULA pack. His name was Chris, from Canada. It rained part of the way then it let up for the last few miles.

I got to Tuolumne at about 6:15. I went to the store and grill looking for Wes and Andrew. The store and grill were closed up tight. I found Wes and Andrew in the backpacker’s campsite happier than ever. Turns out they made it to the grill one minute before the strict closing time of 5:00. They had a huge hamburger and frys waiting for me. It was so fun -- they were giddy. I had a great meal and then Wes is letting me have the hammock tonight. It started a pretty hard rain just as I got into bed.

Almost a perfect day: 22 miles of beautiful hiking over two passes, through a wild hail storm, with time to dry out my stuff, and have a hamburger and Diet Coke waiting for me at the end, and a night in a hammock to top it off.

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The ice that shook off our tent.
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Garnet Lake, viewed from our campsite as we woke up.
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The three of us on Donohue Pass.
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A trail worker on Donohue. Over lunch, I watched this guy work, then take a 15 minute lunch break, and then start work again.
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More scenery on top of Donohue.
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On top of Donohue looking toward Tuolumne Valley. 12 miles to go till camp.
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View of Tuolumne Meadow, from the meadow itself.
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More views of Tuolumne Meadow.
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The trial runs along the side of the meadow.
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After the hail storm, it starts to rain.
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Our camp, near the Tuolumne grill.
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It is wet tonight.
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I get the hammock. Thanks Wes.