Pacific Crest Trail

Island Pass, Donahue Pass, and Lee Vining

Day 58

Probably more than I have ever done before here on trail I just wanted to feel clean again and get back to civilization for a short while. The Vermilion Valley Resort didn’t really cut it with their lack of water, so I hadn’t had a shower since Bishop, which was eight days ago. Between a shower and me were twenty two miles and two passes. I convinced myself to not focus on just the destination, but also try to enjoy what was on the way.

The ascent to Island Pass was an easy one and afforded views of the nice “Thousand Island Lake”, which like its name indicated had a lot of inland islands, but not quite a thousand. I wonder if there’s a relation to the thousand island dressing? There were a lot of small snow patches along the shore, but luckily only one that us hikers had to pass, and it wasn’t that bad.

After Island Pass, there was only a short descent before starting the ascent to Donahue Pass. The

Later was quite time consuming as the trail meandered through a morass of rocks and stream crossings which didn’t really allow me to build up speed.

At some point I realized that there was a hiker wearing just his glasses, shoes, backpack, and a small and a small piece of cloth around his privates. We unfortunately walked at approximately the same speed, so that continued for a quarter of an hour or so. In Denmark that kind of attire would be considered out of place, but here in the US — it would also be considered out of place. I was wandering of it was a hiker that I had bumped into all the way back in Julian (mile seventyish) and back then found somewhat self centered. If only I could get a look at his backpack (which had an ukulele and a broken strap) I would be sure, but unfortunately I didn’t. At one point he shouted ahead if I had any duct tape to spare, which allegedly (and very doubtfully) was “for a good course”, so I gave him approximately half of the tape I had wrapped around one of my trekking poles, but later regretted. At the top of Donahue pass, while taking a small break, he went by me and some other hikers asking if we had met in Julian, which I affirmed and in return asked what had happened to his clothing since then (the other hikers chuckled at that). He didn’t answer. Two other hikers eventually joined him and his lack of clothing for a photo at the pass. I looked at my phone to see it was the twenty first of June, which is summer solstice (yes I know I’ve just revealed just how many days the blog is behind the actual events). I recall there’s some kind of heathen tradition about nudity there, but no details. Would’ve been cooler though if there wasn’t any reason behind it.

The views from the top top were nice and demarcated at the south the Ansel Adams Wilderness and on the north Yosemite. The descent from Donahue Pass was somewhat slow because of the steepness and jumbled rocks. There was a maybe two hundred feet long snow patch that I circumnavigated by scrambling, but this time taking much care as to not slip again. As per usual, the trail flattened out and allowed for a faster pace.

The hurting of my right knee had been comparable to yesterday meaning that it was quite bad in the morning and nearly disappeared during the day but made a reappearance after each time that I had taken a break.

Nearing Tuolumne Meadows I bumped into another hiker wearing a surprisingly white shirt. He was doing 30-40 mile days and had started on May 16th! That’s by far the quickest hiker I have talked with. He had a bachelors degree in civil engineering and already had a job waiting for him when he got back home.

We both went to the Tuolumne general store, where I just had an ice tea. I then wanted to find a hotel for Lee Vining, but there was no cellular service. That made me slightly nervous, as I had just seen that all the Yosemite pay camp grounds as well as The Tuolumne Lodge was full, so it could be that there was no availability in the town that I was trying to hitch to.

I walked a bit back to find a good spot to hitch from and it didn’t take long before I was lucky enough to get picked up by Barbara from Texas, who had been visiting friends in the Bay Area and now was doing a power tour of the Yosemite area. She gave me a lot of tips about what to see in Texas as a tourist and made me want to go there (the movie “Slacker” already had me interested). She said that the mexican food, the polish food, the vietnamese food, the cajun food, or well just the food in general was good in Texas. I said that I had liked the food in the US, and that they go out eating regularly as opposed to us danes who mostly do so on special occasions. She said that she had heard the same thing from a Danish friend of hers and also that in Denmark it was considered weird to go out eating with someone that you had just met or barely knew. That is also what I have heard from expatriates in Denmark. I guess we are not as open to meeting new people or at least not in the same way.

She was now going to Mono Lake, which is by route US 395, the same road going through Bishop that I visited eight days ago. The views on the way to Mono Lake “were not too shabby”, I said humorously. I had actually missed out on those when I had been driving there in the dark with two friends five years ago. I asked how much energy she had left, and said that if she had some then she should go see the limestone formations at the lake, but she was pretty spent having amongst others done the Clouds Rest hike this morning, so it only got to a view of the lake. The dropped me of in Lee Vining and I thanked her a lot. Would’ve asked if she would have liked to have dinner together if it wasn’t for the fact that I hadn’t figured out the hotel situation yet. I tried to call a hotel, but couldn’t get through, so I just walked over to it. Don’t know if it was the best offering but I was tired and just glad that there was availability, so I checked in despite the fact that there was no wifi or on site laundry. The room was decent and after a much needed shower I went to a restaurant. I had been wanting to go to a restaurant that I went to when I was there with my friends five years ago and had fond memories of, though I didn’t recall the name. However, I found it based on the interior decoration and by chance it was actually the first restaurant that I walked by. It was called “Nicely’s”. It looked like last time I was there. The carpet hadn’t changed since then or probably the last twenty years for that matter. I also recognized the booth that we had been sitting in back then. It was weird being back in this particular restaurant in the vast remoteness of eastern California several years later. I had some fried cod with french fries and two beers. It was nice and the portion size sufficiently large, but not completely worthy of my fond memories. Satiety and a slight tipsiness set in and I collapsed on the bed minutes after returning to the hotel room.

2 thoughts on “Island Pass, Donahue Pass, and Lee Vining”

  1. It’s impressive you remember all that stuff from back then. I didn’t even recognize the names Lee Vining and Mono Lake immediately. But now I remember that Mono Lake was the high-density lake with the formations referred to by Dimitri as “tofu” (tufa). What did we eat back then at Nicely’s that was good? 🙂

    1. That I do not recall, but I think there was a clam chowder as a starter. I think I thought of the place as a kind of real American diner. When I saw that lake, I also thought of the “tofu” jokes, which made me chuckle 🙂

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