After spending much of the day hiking along the Tuolumne River, we turned north up Cold Canyon and discovered that the creek was dry. Luckily we found some remnants of deep pools between rocks in the creek and tanked up and made a dry camp high in the canyon with a beautiful view of the high peaks surrounding Tuolumne Meadows.
I couldn't help but admire this lone pine tree, growing out of a crack in the granite wall.
Five years ago we were in this same area and tried to find a campsite at Rogers Lake, giving up after scambling all over the steep slope on the northern edge of the lake. This time we did a little research before going and found this spectacular campsite with lots of granite slabs for laying out our gear and lounging around on.
The next day we climbed Volunteer Peak (10,481 ft). This photo shows the cross-country route clearly where you climb up through the forested meadow to gain the saddle and then you climb the scree slope to the top.
As we were climbing cross-country up Volunteer Peak, I stumbled upon this and called out to Rob "I found a duck!" He thought I meant a pile of stones marking the route and this was not what he was expecting to see when he walked over to me. I couldn't figure out what had happened to this poor dead bird: did it just fall out of the sky? It didn't look like it had been attacked by a predator. And why was it all covered in mud?
The Sierra finally got some much needed rain while we were on our trip. We got caught in several thunderstorms, including this one that our trail took us straight into.
When it first started raining at 3:30 in the afternoon, we threw on our rain ponchos and kept walking but when it looked like it was going to drench us for a good long time, we stopped and pitched the fly of our tent. We transfered everything in Rob's backpack to a plastic trashbag in order to get the tent fly out of his pack without soaking all his gear. We ended up cooking our dinner under the fly and then got back on the trail around 8:00 pm and hiked the remaining 2.5 miles to Dorothy Lake by headlamp - a new experience for us and we kind of liked it.
Since we hiked up to Dorothy Lake by headlamp, we had no idea what it looked like. We were so excited the next morning to wake up and see this beautiful view.
We encountered these unusual fungi growing at the base of trees right along the trail. We were amazed at the brilliant color (no filters) in the fungus on the left and the one on the right made us think of freshly baked bread.
The trail through Northern Yosemite was particularly challenging for me because most of the rocks were covered by smaller rocks that acted like ball bearings. Each step had my focused attention to avoid slipping.
But we also walked near a lot of creeks and lakes, which allowed for frequent foot soakings - one of my favorite backpacking treats!
After Dorothy Lake, we entered the Hoover Wilderness and several miles in, we encountered the 1000-mile mark on the PCT. Apparently there are markers every 100 miles but I had never seen one before since all of my PCT miles have been in the National Parks where you aren't supposed to leave any traces other than footprints.
On our final day, we had 11 miles to hike along an exposed ridge at 10,000 feet. The previous days had been very hot with afternoon thunderstorms and we wanted to get up early to avoid those. But it was also the night of the full moon which gave us a different option: get up at 2 am and hike the trail by the light of the full moon. And so we did! As we walked the north-south ridge, we had the full moon and darkness of the previous day to our west and to our east, we had the sunrise of the new day. It was a magical, beautiful and surreal experience.
We began our trip at Tuolumne Meadows and ended at Sonora Pass. With side trips, we estimated our mileage at 85 miles, which we did in 8 days. We added on side trips to McCabe Lakes, Rogers Lake, Volunteer Peak and Benson Lake (aka "Benson Riviera" because of its broad white sand beach).