we set our packs down outside and went into the lodge, mosquitoes still buzzing and dive-bombing us. the lodge manager sat behind a small counter next to a small stash of supplies. the camp had literally just opened (the staff arrived 3 days before us and furiously got the whole camp set up) so the supply stash was lacking. everything is packed in by mule-train you see. cruel point being: normally they would be able to sell us the mosquito netting we saw on another hiking couple, but not today.
we had a few hours to ourselves before dinner. went to our tent-cabin, happy to learn that it was made for just 2 people. 2 nights in a row of not having to share a tent. we knew our good luck probably wouldn’t last so we enjoyed it while we had it. we made our way to the facilities – compost toilets and ice cold showers – and then back to the cabin for a doze.
At 6 the bugle sounded for hot drinks. They set a table up outside the lodge w/ hot water and tea and coffee. It’s meant, I presume, to foster interaction and ice-breaking but the mosquitoes were swarming so furiously that people were literally running back to their cabins, hot tea in hand, to avoid being bitten. Ate dinner at 6:30. About 30 or so other campers around 8 tables. The meal was fresh and freaking delicious. Soup and salad and grilled vegetables and mushroom ravioli. Afterward the cook and all the staff came out and introduced themselves and their connection to yosemite and the HSCs, a ritual at each camp after each dinner.
We made our way back to the cabin and waited for nightfall. The mosquitoes are quiet then.
A deer, not used to the camp being occupied, darted through, either brave or oblivious.
When it was dark we walked out to a rock outcrop that overlooked the meadow under the camp. It looked like the below picture except that those people weren’t with us and the sky was dark.
We laid down and looked at the stars feeling fortunate to gaze upon them from such a place. Later we went back to the cabin and played scrabble by candle-light.
At breakfast the next morning we talked w/ a group who had come the previous day from the Merced Lake camp, our destination that day. They said it wouldn’t be a problem for us b/c it was nearly all downhill. This sounded great to us since it would also be our longest day of hiking mileage-wise. Many hours later – feet burning, backs aching, energy tapped - we realized how wrong we were…