10th September 2019
Emerald Lake – Tuolumne Campground
20 miles
Total miles: 216.1

It was a difficult nights sleep. It was cold, windy, dusty. My legs felt like they had growing pains in them and that kept me awake

Everything had a layer of dirt on and my mouth was crunchy with dust when I woke up. And it was so cold. Because of all the dust I kept waking up in the night needing water but it was so cold to drink. Because of all the water I needed a wee for hours but I didn’t want to get out of my tent. Another reason I slept badly!

I had made a hot water bottle and it was lovely while it lasted but by midnight it had gone cold. I slept with my sleeping bag done up tight around my neck and my puffy coat over my head. Nothing could be near the air. 


I coughed and sneezed and my nose was running, my body was trying to get rid of all that dust. 

We were both reluctant to got out of our sleeping bags so we waited until the sun hit our tents and we ended up only leaving about half an hour later than usual. I’m not sure the sun was all that helpful because it was cancelled out by the wind. The wind was icy cold. 


After we went passed 1000 Island Lake we were in shade a lot of the time so it was really cold. I massively regret not bringing long legs with me. My upper body was fine. I was walking with my hat and gloves and jacket on, and my poles stowed under my arm and hands in my pockets. But my legs were cold and it felt like the cold was creeping into my bones. Into my knees and making them stiff and achy. 

I was moving slowly. I also had a weird headache. I assumed it was because I hadn’t drunk enough. I was thirsty this morning but the water was too cold to drink. Even the Aleve I took this morning hadn’t really touched the headache. I was feeling like my heart was pounding extra hard and every time I tried to take a sip of water throughout the day my head would pound. 


There was nothing I could do but carry on slowly and steadily. We went over Island Pass which is totally missable as a pass, although beautiful. After going downhill for a while and my knees feeling arthritic and old we started to climb up to Donohue Pass. Our last significant pass. We saw a bunch of southbound hikers today but weirdly we saw quite a few northbound hikers too which we haven’t seen many of so far. 

Catwater stopped for water and I carried on as I thought I was being so slow it would be good to get a head start. I leapfrogged with Hannah and Caitlyn, they are so fast. I was crawling up the pass and I saw a guy and another girl both heading north. The guy proclaimed to be slow and that everyone would overtake him but I only passed him because he was standing still talking a snack break! And the girl had her headphones in and no awareness of who was behind her because she spent a lot of time scratching her bum while I was pretty close behind her! 

Caitlyn came flying past me, she practically ran up the pass, and Hannah was only a short while behind her. She told me she had been talking to Catpee about where we were going to get to today. I didn’t bother to correct her that her name was Catwater, because I thought Catpee was funny.

When I had eventually crawled my way to the top, past the crunchy dirt and patches of ice, there seemed to be quite the little party at the top! Jeff was there and the girls, and Jeff said “hey Puff this lady knows Catwater”. Hannah’s face was a picture. She was mortified to find out that her name wasn’t Catpee and she had called her that to her face. I told her I didn’t correct her because I thought it was funny, and she asked me to apologise to Catwater for her, she calls me P2 so she said she was getting them muddled up. I knew Catwater would find that funny, and she did.


The lady Jeff was talking to had met Catwater at MTR last year and she was just about to leave but Catwater appeared and they managed to have a catch up. On the way up I had finally been able to ditch my jacket but on the top and down the other side the wind was even more icy. 

We now just had a couple of miles of downhill, which felt brutal and long. It’s quite a steep descent and I didn’t envy any one of the many people we saw going up. Last time I was going up that I felt absolutely terrible. I wasn’t feeling that great now. The headyness was still very much there front and centre. I tried everything, drinking more, eating sugar, wearing my sunglasses. Nothing really helped. It was just about manageable because it wasn’t hurting all the time. Just when I moved my head or eyes a certain way. 

As it was mostly down I was out in front as I can go quickly. Catwater is a little more cautious on the downhills but she is never that far behind me. We stopped for a bit of lunch, tried to find somewhere in the sun. Anywhere in the shade was cold and the wind just screwed everything up. Jeff joined us for our break. 


Then it was time for the 10 miles of flat trail along the Lyell canyon. There is no camping within 4 miles of Tuolumne so it was decision time. Camp early or push to get to the campground (and store and possibly the grill). We decide to push on. 

I was moving. Doing about 3 miles an hour. I stopped for Catwater once by a river as I needed to get water. She had been stopped by a ranger and asked for her permit. I saw the rangers but they didn’t ask me. I carried on. Leapfrogging again with Hannah and Caitlyn but I couldn’t keep up with them. Too young and too fit!

I was able to see a decent way down the trail so I played Hamilton out of my speaker to get me motivated, turning it off whenever I saw anyone. I was getting really tired and really hungry and really cold. I got the the junction where it was just a mile from the campground. I had intended to wait here for Catwater but even after bundling on my layers and my hat and gloves I was getting cold and there was no sun so I decided to keep on moving. She would know to meet me at the store. 


When I arrived at the campground I asked a man which way to the store and the man was going there anyway so we walked together. We stopped off at the rangers hut to check the weather. Night time temps are 23°F (zero is 32°F) so in other words it’s going to be bloody freezing tonight. 

Thankfully the grill was still open, I don’t remember the food being that great in 2015 but this time I was absolutely starving and I would have eaten just about anything. So I ordered a double cheeseburger. And I noticed the people in front of me getting hot chocolates, what an excellent idea! Finally I could warm up from the inside! 

While I was waiting for my burger Jeff appeared and I asked where Catwater was… around the corner looking for you. I hoped she wasn’t going to be mad at me for not waiting, but she said she expected me to get here and didn’t want me to wait in the cold so that was all ok. Phew. She ended up walking for a few miles with Jeff anyway. We all ate and warmed up with hot drinks. 

We sat outside the front of the store in a patch of sun which was the warmest place. I was absorbed in my burger and I was babysitting Catwater’s burger while she went inside to get a beer. A man must have seen me sat there with the two burgers because later on he came out the store when Catwater was eating her burger and said he thought I was going to eat both of them. I told him I would have if she had been any longer in the shop. 

I surprised myself with how much I was able to eat and yet still not feel full. Normally a double cheeseburger would have been way too much, but I then went to the store and got a tube of Pringles. Delicious salty Pringles. 


It was getting chilly so we went up to the campground and found some spots to pitch our tents, later we would find out we are next to the girls. It didn’t feel as cold as it did last night so we are hopeful about the night ahead. 

I wanted to get into my tent because I wanted to lie down and I wanted to stuff all of my Pringles into my face. That’s 900cal of burger and 750cal of Pringles and whatever the hot choc had in it. My body won’t know what to do with all that. 


I needed a poo this morning but decided to hold it, I think it just must have just gone away. 

Tonight I’m sleeping in my sleep top, my hiking top and my puffy. My toes will be freezing but my body will be warm.