John Muir Trail Revisited (6) 13-Sep-2022

Lyell Canyon near Kuna Creek, Yosemite National Park, California

Day 6: Lower Davis Lake to Lyell Canyon (Kuna Creek)

Today was to be the toughest day of this trip, some 8.8 miles (14.2 km), with 1,400 feet (427 m) of gain up to Donohue Pass, then down its steep, rocky northern side into relatively flat Lyell Canyon. It would be a day that started dry, got unpleasantly moist, then ended sunnily 😎 in the welcoming (flat) confines of Lyell Canyon.

It hadn’t rained overnight, but we were bereft of hope when we awoke under truculently cloudy skies. Then the clouds parted and sunshine appeared. With hope now restored (temporarily at least) we began our climb toward Donohue Pass wearing only part of our rain gear, but carrying the rest within easy reach.

Lower Davis Lake, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Moon set over Lower Davis Lake
The clouds part and some sunshine appears! πŸ˜„
We get ready to move out
Heading back to join the John Muir Trail (JMT)/Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)
A waterfall along Davis Creek, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
A waterfall along Davis Creek
Mushroom (Fly Agaric?)
Mushroom gills
Crossing a tributary of Rush Creek on a log bridge, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
One of several crossings of Rush Creek’s many tributaries
Another crossing
Stone work along the trail
Koip Crest, High Sierra, California
Koip Crest
Pressing on toward Donohue Pass
A snack break before the rain

The clouds had been swirling about, but not doing anything, for most of the morning. So we stopped for a break before the last, steeper, climb to the pass. It was at this moment we learned that the early appearance of sunshine did not foretell a dry day but rather indicated a sucker hole – one we walked right out of just short of the pass. πŸ˜₯ It started raining… 🌧

So we got to climb to the pass in a steady rain (at least it wasn’t a deluge!) in our steamy rain gear (actual breathable rain gear being as rare as talking chickens πŸ”). Ah, what fun we had splashing along going higher and higher into the clouds! πŸ˜’

Wayne and Diane arrive at Donohue Pass
Why are these wet people (still) smiling?

At the pass, we left the Ansel Adams Wilderness and entered Yosemite National Park. The park has had the resources to grace the trail on the north side of Dohohue Pass with a lot of fairly elaborate rock work – stone steps, cobblestone ramps, stone-edged, gravel-filled channels. There are also sections over glacier-smoothed granite slabs. And all of it now wet and slick thanks to the rain. But at least we were over the pass, going downhill, with the rain easing, and the lush flatness of Lyell Canyon was within sight. 😊

Descending into Lyell Canyon, with Mount Lyell lost in the clouds
One of the creek crossings in upper Lyell Canyon
Lyell Canyon comes into view

The pack string had passed us in upper Lyell Canyon and, once again, Jacob had to figure out where on the valley floor his management expected him to camp. Somewhere near Kuna Creek was all he had to go on. But he did an excellent job of finding us a small but good campsite almost across from the creek, along with an area nearby where the stock could graze. It had been a long, wet day and we were heartily glad to see camp waiting for us when we finally made it down to the banks of Lyell Fork. πŸ˜„

And then, as though some celestial switch had been thrown, the rain stopped, the clouds dissipated, the sky turned blue, and warm sunshine graced the canyon. 😎 Amazing and very welcome! We could almost forgive the previous 8 hours of buffeting by the weather. Almost…

Lyell Canyon
Looking north along Lyell Canyon
Looking south toward Mount Lyell (under the clouds)

This was the last trip of the season for Jacob and KK and they were both looking forward to a little time off. Then Jacob would be heading back to New Mexico to work as a farrier and KK to Washington state to count fish as a wildlife technician. But, consummate professionals to the end, Jacob expertly squared away the stock and KK cooked us an excellent last dinner πŸ˜‹ under skies that had become completely clear and rain-free. We got to eat dinner without being under a tarp! It was a great end to a day that had had its challenges… 😁

KK cooks our last supper
From Lower Davis Lake to Lyell Canyon near Kuna Creek on the JMT/PCT
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