2 weeks ago we were in yosemite, sleeping on mountain tops, hiking through meadows, up and down granite staircases, through woods and trees felled by fire, along alpine lakes and streams. Today finds us back in the grip of the inane, meaningless day job paperwork, endless ways to bore oneself online etc. It’s tragic to have those two realities juxtaposed so seamlessly but what can you do? Try to surround yourself with more of the former and less of the latter I guess.
Normally I’d have done some type of little movie-version of our trip – various clips from along the journey - but I lost the camera. It vanished somewhere between Maxwell, CA and San Mateo, CA. In one sense, losing the camera was a good thing, ripping me from the teat of the habitual. And besides, no better place than to let artifice and manufactured bits fall away than Yosemite. Point being: all of these pix are not mine. I found them on the internet and am co-opting them for the purpose of visual aid. thanks and apologies to those involved.
We drove into Yosemite from San Mateo on Mon 7/7. Turned on Tioga Road and headed toward the other end toward Tuolumne Meadows. We hadn’t been back in, say, five years. Driving in to and through the park, particularly the high country, always has a sedative effect on me. My breath slows. My shoulders loosen. The smell of the trees. The sky that blue.
We found our way to the Tuolumne Lodge. It’s part of the High Sierra Camps Loop technically but it really represents a sort of base camp, a final place to get supplies and electricity and the ny times before heading to the other camps. However it’s a good spot to get acclimated to the altitude at 8600 ft. We checked in and found our way to our tent cabin, #11, which looked exactly like the below pic. Although there were 4 beds we had the place to ourselves. We walked to the facilities, took hot showers, and then locked up our toiletries and food in the bear-boxes.
After a brief rest we went to the lodge for dinner. They serve family-style which means you sit with strangers. We met a couple from St. Louis on their honeymoon and a group of four women in their late 60’s who come annually to Yosemite. A couple years prior they’d hiked Half-Dome.
After dinner we sat outside at the camp bonfire. Discussions happened around us about completed hikes, upcoming hikes. Marshmallows circled. When it got dark we went to our cabin and played gin rummy by candle-light. Had a fire in the stove. We stepped outside briefly to look at the stars, pulsing brightly around the silhouette of Cathedral Peak in the distance.
The next morning we had breakfast. We picked up our pre-ordered sack lunches. We packed our packs. We drove up the road to the information center and parked our car. We put our supplies in the bear-boxes. Some trusting soul left a full bottle of scotch in one of the bear-boxes. We walked to the nearest shuttle stop and waited. About 15 minutes later the shuttle picked us up. Our destination that day was the Sunrise High Sierra Camp (HSC) but we had two options: take the Sunrise trail past sunrise lakes or take the John Muir trail past Cathedral Lakes. The latter was longer but reportedly more stunning. MM argued for the latter. I argued for the former. She won. The shuttle dropped us at the Cathedral Lakes trailhead.
We didn’t have hiking poles or any of the fancy accoutrements so we grabbed sticks off the ground to help us hike. It was straight up for awhile but then leveled out, curving around Cathedral Peak. A few hours later we’d gone around 3.5 miles. We stopped for lunch at Upper Cathedral Lake.
We saw a couple men fishing. We saw a deer across the lake. And the mosquitoes began. They were swarming as we ate our sandwiches. We patted and slapped at each other’s heads and shoulders. We ate quickly as a result and high-tailed it back to the path but the mosquitoes stayed with us. The steady, insistent buzzing. It continued for several hours, through and over the tree line, over the ridge and down into Long Meadow. In fact it seemed to get worse the closer we got to camp. We saw a couple ahead of us wearing mosquito netting over their heads and we made mental notes to get the same.
We arrived tired and bite-riddled at Sunrise HSC and checked in.