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PCT Day 167 – Crossing Donahue Pass to Yosemite National Park

Last updated Feb 17, 2020 | Published on Oct 7, 2017

PCT Day 167 – Wednesday, September 27
Mile 915.9 to Lyell Fork Creek Mile 931.2

PCT Miles Hiked Today: 15.4
Total PCT Miles Hiked: 1801.5
Feet Ascended Today: 3796
Feet Descended Today: 2340
Current Elevation: 10203

It was cold when I awoke this morning – another night below freezing. I packed up as quickly as possible as I wanted to make it over both Island and Donahue Passes today.

View of Mammoth Mountain from My Tent

Hiking Towards Thousand Island Lakes

Around 11:00 am I came to Thousand Island Lake, a lovely area with alpine lakes framed by snow-capped peaks. The JMT rejoins the PCT at this location.

Thousand Island Lakes

Thousand Island Lakes

I hiked another 2 miles uphill and crossed Island Pass, which was by far the easiest pass that I’ve crossed so far. From there the trail dipped 1000 feet in elevation to Davis Creek, and then climbed up another 1500 feet in elevation to cross Donahue Pass (11074 feet).

Sign Post at Davis Creek

Approaching Donahue Pass

Approaching Donahue Pass

I had heard from some southbound hikers that Donahue Pass was “waist-deep in snow” thanks to the recent snowfall, but it wasn’t that bad. Clearly much of the snow had melted by the time I crossed the Pass.

Almost to the Top of the Pass!

The Top of Donahue Pass

At the top of the pass I crossed over the boundary from Ansel Adams Wilderness to Yosemite National Park. I was pretty excited as I’ve always wanted to go to Yosemite.

First View of Lyell Canyon in Yosemite National Park

Hiking Down the North Side of Lyell Fork

When I made it over Donahue it was 5:00 pm, so I hurriedly continued down the other side. The path had more snow on the north side of the pass, so I had to take care not to slip on frozen snow and I even lost the trail a few times which slowed me down.

Lyell Fork Partially Frozen at 10,500 Feet

I eventually camped at one of the crossings over Lyell Fork. I was still at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, but it was getting late and I was tired. It was going to be another cold night.

Lyell Fork

For more on my experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, visit my Pacific Crest Trail Blog page.

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!

1 Comment

  1. bubbasuess

    That stretch of the PCT from Red Meadow to Tuolumne is one of the best sections I have had the pleasure of hiking. It is so spectacular. You are luck to be enjoying it! I took the family down to Mammoth last week (we may have overlapped a bit!) and caught one of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen from Minaret Vista. That is a truly phenomenal stretch of mountains!


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