Day 5: Clarice Lake to Lower Davis Lake
Well, we made good use of our layover day yesterday, what with lounging around in the sunshine and all. Now, to reach Tuolumne Meadows on schedule, we’d have to hike longer distances, and cross a major pass, in the next three days. I’d like to say that the weather accommodated us by being warm and sunny for all of those three days. It did not, choosing instead to grace us with rain (but not hail) on two of them. There may be a drought in California but it wasn’t here for us. 🤨
Although some clouds appeared again at dawn, we started hiking under mostly sunny skies. But that didn’t last as the clouds swelled and grew throughout the day. They remained puffy, sporadic things while we hiked over a divide, down around Garnet Lake, and past pretty little Ruby Lake to Thousand Island Lake. Mount Ritter and Banner Peak would dominate the western skyline until we crossed Island Pass.
Just past the outlet of Thousand Island Lake, the John Muir Trail (JMT) merges again with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and they remain entwined until Tuolumne Meadows, when the JMT breaks off toward its trailhead in Yosemite Valley and the PCT continues northward. From Thousand Island Lake, we followed the merged trails as they climbed over gentle Island Pass – past some well fed marmots – and descended to a junction with the Davis Lakes Trail.
At the junction, we turned west, aiming for a campsite at Lower Davis Lake. As we crossed Island Pass, the clouds had gone from artistic to menacing and now a gentle rain was falling. But those sprinkles stopped just as the pack string caught up with us. The rain held-off while we followed the string into camp and quickly set-up the tarp and our tents.
We got about 15 minutes grace after reaching camp before the skies erupted with yet another deluge – one so mighty our tent started leaking. But no hail. 🙄 As we ate dinner standing under the tarp, we contemplated a flooded tent. But – mercifully – the deluge quit abruptly at 20.00 and there was no rain overnight. We squelched the leaks and managed to get a decent night’s sleep in relatively dry conditions.
We’d hiked 7.4 miles (11.8 km) today, with a cumulative gain of 1,300 feet (396 m), most of it without, fortunately, being swaddled in steamy rain gear. Tomorrow we’d climb over Donohue Pass (11,066 feet / 3,373 m) and make the steep rocky descent into Lyell Canyon to the essentially flat section of the JMT going into Tuolumne Meadows.