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Lyell Fork

August 9, 2014

We said goodbye to the John Frame + 2 clan this morning… it’s really fun to see the twins and smile at how far they’ve come in the last ten years or so of trips to Tuolumne Meadows. They are turning into great hikers. Fun to see them with their friends, too.

Matthew (13), Jeffrey (Matthew’s friend, 13), Dean (13), Tyler (Dean’s friend, 13), Peter (16), Ben (19)

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We decided to do a river canyon day, so after breakfast packed up and headed back behind the cabins to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne, about 3/4 mile to the bridge. Both the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails follow this fork and you can go a long way up the canyon, but we’ve never gotten anywhere near the end (Donohue Pass, 12 miles away), but we’ve followed it for a few miles here and there, which is what we did today.

At the bridge where you cross the river (one of several places in this canyon):

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We started up canyon by following the river (where sometimes there is a small fisherman’s trail, but most of the time not) instead of the main trail, so we meandered a LOT for a lot of unnecessary contours, but of course that was fine. Some shots:

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We must have crossed the river, somehow, well past the bridge at Rafferty Creek… we’re not sure how, but probably has to do with the drought and low water, and whatever. Many arguments were had about where we were… but by and by we connected to the main trail and just hiked for another couple/three miles.

Most of the canyon looks something like this…

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Some parts open to large meadows, sometimes with the river being too far away to even see (due to meadow brush not distance). It’s a truly, truly gorgeous place for just hiking unencumbered.. flat, protected canyon, and miles and miles before you. And again, for some reason, you hardly see anyone. I believe the John Muir Trail has peeled off toward Vogelsang (back at Rafferty Creek) and maybe the PCT comes in over Donohue Pass, but, whatever, we just don’t see a lot of people ever.

We decided to stop for lunch. People did their own thing… these guys did this:

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I took off to sit by myself and take pictures and muse:

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And Peter and Ben did this:

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It was ever thus. They just love this shit. So much fun to watch them.

After a while, Peter came and joined me. My journal from the day says (and I totally remember this):

Had one of my most SUBLIME MOM MOMENTS ever, lying by the river in the grass with Peter, talking, looking at the sky, taking pictures, listening to the sound of the mountains. 

Here was a picture I took (yawn):

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And here’s what Peter did with the same subject. Guy’s got a gift…. or at least figured out how to use the macro setting to much greater effect:

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Again, we hustled back in order to miss the afternoon rain, which came just as we got back. Peter took us on his short cut.. a route from the Lyell Fork to the cabins through the forest he’d figured out earlier in the trip. I like that he feels comfortable making his way cross country (knowing there are not a lot of ways to get lost between forks in the Tuolumne River).

I have a note in my journal that says after a shower, I sat in the lodge with a heating pad (on hip flexor), an ice pack (on achilles), a manuscript I was editing (Toni’s third book), a beer, and Peter, who joined me for a while before Monica and Dror came down to hang out. Nice.

Dinner was its usual fascinating assortment of old Sierra Club types (whom I usually love and enjoy talking to). Two in particular this evening: Fran (74) and Gerry (75), two women who’ve been coming to Tuolumne Meadows together for 30 years and who’ve literally climbed everything in Yosemite there is to climb, plus Everest’s back side (not to top), Kilimanjaro, Rainier and so many others. Impressive. They are now very hobbly, but they are still there hiking. Hope that will be Jim and me in about twenty years.

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