Today, on Wednesday, I had to decide: stay at Tuolumne Meadows campground and take the bus to Yosemite Valley, or continue the JMT. My whole plan for the return depended on the YARTS bus ride to Fresno on Friday afternoon. To allow me some margin on Thursday and Friday I needed to come closer than 20 miles to Happy Isles until this evening if I wanted to walk there. My hope was for an easy trail today through Lyell Canyon.
I started around 8 am from my camp site at 9.800 ft and reached the flat part of the trail at 9.000 ft around 9:30 am. And indeed, this was a really nice trail now!
During the walk I met my Swedes again who passed me around noon, also two hikers from Fresno CA who had started from Red’s Meadow, and a girl from Miami FL joined me for some time as she was walking the same (slow) speed.
Around noon I met another mule train, and later a pair of rangers checked our permits. One could easily feel that we were coming closer to civilization, the trail got wider, and bridges became really beautiful.
At 2:30 pm we arrived at the Tuolumne Meadows lodge, but needed nearly another hour to reach the general store and grill at the Tioga Road (Hwy 120). Meanwhile we were a group of four, the Swedes, the girl from Miami and me. We all ordered food at the grill, and I saved a plastic spoon for my trail kitchen.
After an afternoon lunch and a visit to the restroom I said good-bye to the other 3 and continued along the highway 120 until the JMT split off: now I knew I can make it.
After walking 15 miles today I set up my tent only 19 miles from Yosemite Valley. It was a bit before the Cathedral Lakes but on a site which obviously was intended for camp.
I prepared dinner, and while browsing through the remaining content of the bear can I found there my long titanium spoon – in fact I had never lost it.