Spiller Canyon

Stanton Pass to Tuolumne Meadows (PCT Halfmile 942.7) via Spiller Creek and the PCT
(19 miles, +2,000/–3,700 feet).

I love sleeping high.

No condensation, it’s usually (paradoxically) warmer, and the views are out of this world.

We awoke this morning to a light show on Whorl Mountain as the moon faded and the sun blued the sky.

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Whorl Mountain
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Sunrise above Stanton Pass
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Upper Spiller Creek and Dead Horse Pass

We packed up our things and were heading down hill by 6am.

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Morning blossoms
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Navigating the talus

We stopped at an outcrop after the talus to have some breakfast and stretch.

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Not-so-hot yoga

To descend to Spiller Creek, we had to pass through a thick forest, but it was not too overgrown.

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Cool blowdown roots
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Spiller Creek

Once we got down, we crossed the creek (thanks to MixMaster’s excellent suggestion!) and the cross country hiking was really easy, fun, and spectacularly beautiful.

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This is fun!
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Diving into the dappled sunlight
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Golden meadows

By 10am we were (sadly) done with Spiller Canyon and back on the superhighway that is the PCT.  Ironically, after more than 24 hours off trail, our first wildlife sighting happened just minutes later.

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Where have you guys been?

We crossed back over Spiller Creek, which was just a rock hop.

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Hopalong MixMaster

But I got confused about where we were a mile later when we crossed Return Creek.  Instead of returning to the logjam we used before, we just crossed in the ankle deep water at the trail.

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Aaahhh, refreshing….

The trail looked really different under sunny skies compared to two days ago when it was cloudy.

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Pretty paths in the shade
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Mighty mushrooms
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Sesame seed bun

The day really flew by once we hit the PCT.  We listened to music on our headphones on the uphills and chatted on the downhills.  Soon we were back at the Tuolumne with its lovely views and powerful falls.

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Tuolumne Falls
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Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne

This time, the granite of the Tuolumne really struck me.

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The trail hugs a rocky cliff to the left
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Lots and lots of granite

And the warm weather created the perfect conditions for a cool Sierra dip.

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Looks tempting!
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Splash

After my swim and a good long break, we hit the trail to finish up our miles for the day.

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Reinforced trail through the meadow
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Tuolumne Meadows peeking through the trees

Our last animal encounter almost ended badly.  I nearly stepped on this little guy.  He faked a strike at me when I approached him to take his picture.  I snapped a shot and backed away as he slithered into the grass.

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Back off, yo!

And then it was done.

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Exiting the wild
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Yosemite, we will be back!
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