Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yosemite: Part 3

September 5, 2002....Day 3

The real journey begins here.

We woke up early in the morning. We were fairly excited about the hike, but it didn't take long to change that.

Here is what the view looked like first thing:

And here is what we looked like while we were still happy to be there:

It wasn't too long before the switchbacks started. Remember I talked about learning to read topographical maps. You seriously need to know how much up and down you are doing along with the horizontal distance. The switchbacks were fine at first, but quickly started to take their toll. Somewhere near the middle, it looked like this:
Not a bad morning hike...If you were in shape for it...If you had the right equipment. I was neither. I was getting voraciously hungry. At the top it looked like this:

Soon after we decided to stop for a snack. :-) I was really hungry. The trail mix was in serious trouble:
Now...a couple of things about this picture. It was the last time of the trip that I was actually allowed to hold the bag. You see. I was going to eat it all. Rocquel was very alarmed at how much I was eating and told my brother that if he didn't stop me there wouldn't be any left. I was shortly relieved of the mix, and it was closely guarded thereafter. It was not that it was any good, it was SOMETHING, and my body was in dire need of any something at that point. The next thing about this picture is that the woman I was dating at the time used it for her desktop. Something in the way she added it there made it pop up every time she shutdown her computer. It continued to do so for two years after we broke up. I had absolutely nothing to with that.

The wonders in Yosemite are astounding. It seems every time you cross a ridge you are in an entirely different surrounding. That is what kept me going when I seriously wanted to quit. Already my shoulders and back were aching terribly. I didn't want to see or put on the pack, and it was still morning. Bears were almost entirely pushed out of my mind by the agony of carrying the pack. One camera would have been enough. I'm sure I could have shed weight in other ways too.

Another area we stopped at was here:
And here we got to read some sign posts....

If my memory is correct, and likely it isn't, we had come 7.2 miles to this point, had 3.4 miles to get to the lake we were going to, and 10.0 miles to get to where we figured was about halfway. It was at this point that I realized our mistakes. We had not really read the map all that well. We miscalculated the horizontal distance, we miscalculated the vertical distance, and therefore we had miscalculated our time. We really had to pick up our pace if we were going to be even close to halfway by sunset.

While we continued to trudge along I managed to get these shots:

And just when it seemed that the landscape could not change any more, we landed on the moon. At least that is what I thought it looked like. We were our of the forest and glades and onto solid granite.

Brian and Rocquel having a moment:

Shortly after getting to this barren area we found the lake. It was around 2pm.

We shed our packs. I found a grassy area and crashed. Like a lizard I just soaked up the sun. After a bit I did go for a swim. Brian cooked up some noodles and filtered water for us. I think they gave me a little trail mix. I would have eaten bugs at this point.

This is the spot I napped in. There is my pitiful pack. My dreadful and despised instrument of self-inflicted torture:

I was adamant that we were staying here and going NO FURTHER. I was DONE. I had eaten, I was warm, and I wanted to sleep until the next day. Brian, like always, convinced me that I needed to get up and keep going. By my calculations, I think we still had close to 7 miles to go before we could sleep. Onward we trudged.

More switchbacks going up and over the mountain next to the lake. Then more meadows, more trees, more switchbacks leading down into Tillman Valley. Grrr. Yes, I was irritated. My tripod had broken. My bungee cords holding my sleeping bag were loosening and stretching. They took the trail mix from me. My whole body ached, but especially my shoulders and back. Onward. Onward. Onward. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Up. Down.

On the last switchbacks before getting into the valley I was sitting on one of the bends waiting for my brother and his wife. I heard a big crash on the next switchback below. I watched a very large brown bear run really fast down the path and crash into the other side. Then it was silent again. I just sat there. My mind replayed what I saw. The only thing that registered was that I should not say anything until my brother got close. No need to further alert the bear to our presence. I was too tired to do anything. I was too tired to be scared. I just wanted to sleep.

We finally made it to spot we needed to camp. Just before sunset. As I was walking to the spot, a sign caught my eye and I made a bee line for it. I wanted to see how far I had to walk the next day. Rocquel kept telling me that the camp site was the other way. Again. Again. Again. I was too tired to reply. I just wanted a look, then I wanted to collapse. She called again. I responded, "Pitch the F******* tent! I will be there in a minute!" We may have been on the right path, and fournd the right place, but I had lost my temper. :-)

We had about 17 miles to go to get back the next day. Maybe a bear would eat me and I would not have to worry about it.

Here is a picture of the Valley at sunset:

We ate. The wind was picking up and it felt like it was going to rain. We put the food canister, our packs, and anything that smelled like food in the valley, 50 yards from our tents. It was getting cold. Sometime in the middle of the night the wind really picked up and it rained. I am still amazed my tent did not collapse or have the dew cover ripped off. I got up at one point and put rocks on the packs. I was afraid anything not weighted down would blow away. While doing this my brother had to get up and urinate. He did not know I was up. I walked up behind him as he was getting out of the tent. I did not mean to scare him, it just didn't register to me that with the wind he could not hear me. I scared the piss out of him, nearly literally. I told him I had just weighted the packs down. Then I went back to sleep. I was very glad I had bought the new sleeping bag.

Part 4 coming soon....


  1. I know you rigged my computer, shirtless man.

  2. Wow. I have to go back and look at the other parts of this story!! What a trip! Whew! I'm getting worn out and achy from just reading it.

    Oh and... yeah, I would TOTALLY use that photo as my desktop wallpaper too. I mean, ya know, if I was dating you and all... Damn.


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