John Muir Trail Day 4 – Tuolumne Meadows over Donahue Pass.

John Muir Trail Hike

Day: 4 | Distance: 16.4 mi | Mountain Pass 2/10: Donahue Pass (11,703′)

I woke up before dawn, ready for the day’s adventure. The goal for today was to hike over Donahue Pass, which stands at a towering height of 11,073 feet, and find camp a few miles later. I was excited about the journey but also nervous since I had heard from fellow hikers that this pass can be a challenge.

My friend Don and I headed to the Visitors Center at Yosemite to get the walk-up permits we needed for our trek. Don was already there, having arrived 45 minutes earlier than me, and was first in line. Thankfully, we managed to secure the day-of permits for exiting Yosemite via Donahue Pass, and we set off on our adventure. As we left, we said goodbye to our three friends who were heading home from Tuolumne Meadows.

John Muir Trail Hike
Checking out the lakes from Donahue Pass

On the Trail to Donahue Pass

The trail was busy with dozens of PCT hikers who had started their journey at the southern terminus around May 8th. They looked exhausted but determined to reach their destination. I admired their grit and wondered how many of them would go on to complete the hike.

I had stocked up on supplies in Tuolumne Meadows, but now I had more food than my backpack could handle, which made it heavy and burdensome. By the time we reached the top of Donahue Pass, my back was in agony, and I was dehydrated, dizzy, and feeling nauseous. I knew I needed to rest, but we still had a long way to go.

A Rough Day on the Trail

Finally, we made it to our campsite a few miles southeast of Donahue Pass. I skipped dinner and drank some water before slipping into my sleeping bag. I hoped tomorrow would be better, and I vowed to take things a bit easier since I didn’t want to climb another pass in that condition anytime soon.

The first part of our journey had been a challenge, but it was also a great start to what was shaping up to be an unforgettable JMT backpacking trip.

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4 thoughts on “John Muir Trail Day 4 – Tuolumne Meadows over Donahue Pass.

  • March 3, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Robb I’ve missed your pictures and your writing!! And it needs to be summer already, I am so sick of winter!

    • March 3, 2017 at 6:22 pm

      Hey Doris!

      Thanks so much! Time is elusive these days. Looking forward to getting back in the groove.

      You should come down to SoCal. It might as well be summer. It was like 80 degrees and completely clear out today 😉

  • March 2, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    You were killing it climbing Donohue Pass. The only reason I knew you weren’t feeling well was because you said it.

    • March 3, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Hey Don!

      Thanks man. It was the only time on the hike I felt uncertain. Thanks for your help with the adjustments. That made all the difference!


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