Sunday, December 13, 2015

Yoo 684 - Yosemite

After many hours of driving and a stop for cheese bread at Erick Schat's Bakery, Death Valley gave way to Yosemite. And a lot cooler temperatures, also known as snow. But by the time we pulled up to the Tuolumne Meadows ranger station, the skies had mostly cleared and the weather looked promising.

We went inside to check on permit availability and were lucky enough to get what we needed. Though we had no idea what that was...both of us were scouring the map we'd just bought, picked what looked like a doable 4-day loop, and signed a few dotted lines.

Then came the task of fitting all of our food and smellables into one bear canister because we didn't want to carry two. We were in that parking lot for a while, organizing and reorganizing gear. And then arguing about who got to carry the bear canister.

Somehow I lost?

By the time we went looking for parking at the trailhead, it was beginning to rain. And then after one last stop at the bathroom and loading everything onto our backs, that rain had become snow. A very sludgy, wet snow.

And thus began one of my more miserable days backpacking. I seriously reconsidered our plans and almost gave up multiple times. Especially after stepping in a hidden puddle five minutes into the hike and soaking my left foot. My hands were freezing, my waterproof jacket proved it was no longer waterproof, the bear canister was digging into my back, and my rain pants wouldn't stay up.

All the while I had to stop and pee a million times because pregnancy.

But we trucked on through the fog and snow, learning life lessons thru suffering. My favorite!

Eventually, the clouds cleared a bit and the views got a lot better.

Notice my make-shift waterproof gloves. Cheap fleece mittens with nitrile gloves layered on top. They worked wonders! My hands thawed out and stayed warm.

We set up camp at Glen Aulin High Sierra camp that night, after about 5ish miles and getting slightly lost. There was a group finishing a week-long trek camped there who had a good fire going with music and laughing so we joined in while making dinner. Morale improved drastically. Morgan used a foil packet as a spoon because she forgot hers.

And then it started raining again and the night was freezing but we survived.

The next morning we took a closer look at the map and realized we'd bitten off way more than we could chew with our original planned loop. That and a weather report from a visiting ranger promising a big snowstorm the following afternoon got us to abandon our plans. Instead we spent the day hiking the "Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne River" and a section along the Pacific Crest Trail before retiring back to camp at Glen Aulin.

The weather that day was sunny and perfect and it was quite a happy place. Even after a random sciatic nerve pain began plaguing my lower half, I waddled along not wanting the sun to set.

My dog belongs in this picture. I was missing him all day.

That night we settled back into camp at Glen Aulin and met several weekenders from San Francisco. SPOILED PEOPLE. They can drive up to Yosemite on a whim.

We took the initiative to start a communal fire that night. Ok, mostly Morgan. I was very focused on getting dinner cooked and into my belly. But she did a great job and we enjoyed dinner and conversation with new camp buddies. One of them had hiked thirty-some miles just to see if he could do it. And that made me feel like a pile.

"What sound does a log make when you push it too far into the fire?"


Ok, you had to be there. But mostly we were trying to figure out how Pahrump, NV got its name...

Also important to note, this is the night Morgan and I learned how to say Tuolumne correctly.

A make-shift clothes rack to get our socks to dry. Even though drying socks in freezing temperatures is impossible.

This is a good time to praise my down sleeping bag. How I love that thing! It's puffy and warm and so cozy to come back to after each night-time trek to pee. I actually found myself TOO warm at times. Long live my down sleeping bag!

More praise for the cheapo "gloves"! They made collecting water from a frigid river bearable!

The hike out the next morning was glorious. No hint of an impending snowstorm at all. And best of all, we got to see everything we missed on the hike in thanks to the thick fog! The meadows were perfect.

"I don't know, yo's might."

Another inside joke...

Reunited with the car and all the food we'd stored in a communal bear locker. Though somebody packed canned food without packing a can opener.....Morgan...and I had to get dangerous with a pocket knife.

Then on to the valley and hordes upon hordes of tourists!

We wanted to hike up to another campsite but the permits were sold out. So we crashed at the "backpackers" camp instead. It wasn't much to look at but it was also the only place available.

Fourteen weeks at Half Dome! I'm pushing my stomach out for effect and this is admittedly more of a food baby...


Morgan wanted one too:

Some day, I will be back here starting the JMT! So let it be written...

We spent the next morning hiking from the valley. I think this is Vernal Fall? All I know is there were a lot of steps that were so much easier to go up than they were to go down thanks to my fear of heights.

This sign is a little inaccurate in that it doesn't account for the hundreds and hundreds of steps that are squeezed into that 0.3 miles.

And just like that we'd had enough of the valley and throngs of people and made our way out and onto the next national park.

Have a great day :-)

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