Wednesday, November 13, 2013

John Muir Trail: Day 5 — Cathedral Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows

When we woke, the boys and I sang happy birthday to Pam.  She was forty-two, and she smiled at us.  I kissed her forehead and crawled out of the tent.

The lake was glassy, reflecting Tressider Peak, ghostlike wisps of mist rising from its surface towards a clear sky.   I stretched a few kinks from my back then went to retrieve our bear canisters and filter water, which I put on the stove for coffee, hot chocolate and oatmeal.  We ate on rocks and then sat holding our warm beverages until the early sun warmed us enough to begin the morning ritual of breaking camp.

It was a good day of hiking.  The boys stayed happy and kept a great pace, which I fully attribute to the fact that they knew hamburgers, soda and ice cream waited for them in Tuolumne Meadows.  They stopped frequently to take pictures of marmots, deer, butterflies, chipmunks and lizards.  When we reached Tioga Road we went straight to the grill and shoved food in our faces until our guts were stuffed.  Then we sat there, greasy-faced and smiling for a while before hauling our packs onto a shuttle and riding a short distance to Tuolumne Lodge, which isn’t really a lodge at all but a gathering of old-fashioned, canvas tent cabins beside the Dana Fork of Tuolumne River.


We all took showers, which Pam claimed was the best birthday present we ever could have given her, and in the evening we went to the dining hall for a celebratory feast.  Pam and I gorged ourselves on meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad and beer, while the boys scarfed macaroni and cheese and several plates of fresh fruit.  We sang happy birthday to Pam again before desert arrived, and afterwards we sat enjoying the simple pleasure of being stuffed full of good food.  The stream danced across rapids just outside our window, and everything felt right.

That night we read another chapter of The Hobbit, brushed our teeth at a real sink, peed in a real toilet and slept on real mattresses.  I can’t say for certain, but I think it’s a safe guess that we slept with smiles on our faces.

Read the full series by clicking on the links below:
Day 1 – Day2 – Day 3 – Day 4 – Day 5 – Day 6 – Day 7 – Day 8 – Day 9 – Day 10 – Day 11 – Day 12 – Day 13 – Day 14 – Day 15 – Day 16 – Day 17 – Day 18 – Day 19 – Day 20 – Day 21 – Day 22 – Day 23 – Day 24 – Day 25 – Day 26 – Day 27 – Day 28 – Day 29 – Day 30 – Day 31 – Day 32 – Day 33 – Day 34

J.S. Kapchinske is the author of Coyote Summer.