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Thru-Hiking the JMT: Tuolumne Meadows Resupply

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Tuolumne Meadows Panorama

Day 3 on the John Muir Trail and we were starting a long way from where we originally planned to camp. Our unauthorized off-trail camp dubbed The Middle of Somewhere was beautiful and quiet, but we had 3.5 miles to hike just to get to Sunrise High Sierra Camp, where we should’ve been starting. If you do the math, that means that yesterday’s little excursion to Clouds Rest turned today’s easy 8.6 mile trek into a more rigorous 12.1 miles.

Sunrise Lakes Panorama

John Muir Trail Day 3
Distance: 12.1 miles
Cumulative Distance: 30.5 miles
Total Ascent: 2,124 ft
Cumulative Ascent: 11,095 ft
Harrison Map Sheets 13 and 12
GPX file
On the bright side, we got to visit the Sunrise Lakes. These three lakes were quiet and serene, and would make a great stop if we weren’t hiking the JMT.

The water on Sunrise Lakes was still, reflecting like a mirror.  We hiked quietly, passing only a few other backpackers, and felt as though we had the mountains to ourselves.

Joan stepping across a lock in Sunrise Lakes

From Sunrise Lakes, we pass over a saddle and down to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. Finally we were back on the JMT. We stopped for lunch but didn’t linger — the mosquitos were as hungry as we were.

Back on the JMT

From here the trail winds along the perimeter of the meadow, slowly and steadily climbing towards Cathedral Pass — the first of many mountain passes on the JMT. From the pass it’s a well-shaded, downhill trek to the Tuolumne Meadows.

Cathedral Peak

When we reached Tuolumne Meadows, it was tempting to think we had “arrived.” We caught glimpses of Tioga Road through the trees and could hear passing cars. There were more casual hikers in the area, but we still had a full mile yet to go before we would reach the backpacker’s campground. It was one of those times when a mile seems longer than it really is.

Tuolumne Meadows Panorama

Hari and Jeffrey were already there and had staked out a spot for us. Unfortunately the Tuolumne Post Office had closed about 15 minutes earlier, so we would have to wait to pick-up our resupply package until the morning. Fortunately, the diner was open. We feasted on cheeseburgers and fries. We earned it.

Three days on the John Muir Trail were under our belts. We summited Half Dome and Clouds Rest. And we made it to our first resupply point — Tuolumne Meadows.

Resupply at Tuolumne
JMT-JeffYou might wonder why you would bother resupplying at Tuolumne — a mere three days into a three week trek on the JMT. Consider this: you will carry on average two pounds of food, per person, per day. The next resupply point is Reds Meadow — three days further. Skipping this resupply point would mean carrying an extra six pounds. The math says, resupply at Tuolumne.

Middle of Somewhere to Tuolumne Meadows

This map details our journey from our off trail camp to Sunrise High Sierra Camp, over Cathedral Pass and down to Tuolumne Meadows.

Download file: JMT-Day-3.gpx

JMT Day 3 Photo Gallery

Click on any photo to view a larger version. You can also leave comments on any photo.

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Tomorrow, we head up Lyell Canyon.

Originally hiked on July 29, 2010. 

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