Yosemite Day 3 of 5

To our loyal followers, our apologies for the delay in posting the final story of our epic trip to Yosemite. Summer vacation crept up on us pretty quick. With kids out of school things have been busy. Not to mention the Arizona heat blasting the trails halting the backpacking season for the Valley. Without traveling a few hours there are a few months a year that just don’t work well in the desert!

The summer is winding down, the kids are back in school, and the packs will be hitting the trails in no time. There is some exciting news on the horizon as well; be on the look out for further updates. The Backpacking Journal has a HUGE trip in the works!

Now back to Yosemite. Day 3 was unexpected to say the least. The previous day’s summit of Half Dome took a toll on a few of the 6Pack. As the night wound down after day twos hike, we made a group decision that we would alter our original plan of getting to Glacier point and spend a day near camp. Internally I think we were all disappointed, but we all knew it was the right choice. If we were gonna stick together as a team we needed to spend a day healing and relaxing. In hind sight, this was our first multiple day trip so we were hitting uncharted territory, and you learn as you go in backpacking.

After spending the early parts of the morning sleeping in the mood around camp was sluggish, the silent forest was filled with sounds of the running river and moans of us getting out of our tents. Every muscle was tight, each step took a bit more effort, and menial tasks like pumping water seemed challenging. As the morning sun filled the camp site we took our time eating, getting dressed, and discussing a plan for a short hike to explore the area. It was decided a short hike further up the trail in the direction of Lake Merced was the perfect plan. We would start as a group, but if someone wanted to head back it was a straight shot to camp. Think of it as a self paced stroll through the woods.

As we pushed deeper into the canyon we were immersed into an area filled with destruction. There were signs of massive snow, avalanche, flood, and rock slide damage. The majority of the trees were down; the ones that remained were hanging on with little to no chance of survival. It was sad to see such a beautiful area turned inside out, but at the same time the power it must have took to create such an environment was somewhat humbling. The canyon walls were filled with waterfalls catching rays of the sunshine and were easily spotted because of such a thin tree cover. As we began to pass the dead area, the trail quickly changed. The tree cover was gone and the trail started cutting through the granite walls, wrapping in a switchback like fashion.

This is when we came across our first “cascade” style water fall. The best way to describe this would be to imagine a giant granite washboard with thousands of gallons of water rushing down creating a massive amount of power and sound. The fall came to an end in a perfect swimming pool. While a few pushed on up the trail a couple of us took a quick dip in the pool to check out the water. It was COLD! About 45 degrees cold; enough to make your skin instantly tighten and your lungs gasp for air. It was a quick stop, but we left with every intention of hitting this spot on the way back to camp later.

From here the trail gained a few hundred feet of elevation and eventually the Wicked Witch called it a day. We went over a few safety items, and she started heading down. We were going to press on and meet back with her at camp. We followed the trail for another mile or so until we came to a perfect spot for lunch, another cascade. This one was larger, stronger, and louder. Just above the fall was an out-cove that reached the edges of the flowing river with shade trees and smooth flat rocks to lay on. It was shaping up to be an amazing “rest” day.

After some lunch and a quick cat nap by a few of the 6pack we wanted to head up just a little further to see over the next hill. After pushing up the hill we saw what was on the other side, the other side of a hill! We called it quits for the day and started our way down. On our way back we were in for a surprise. Doc and Slimms were taking the lead while FallGal followed close behind and Chuck & Chick strolled in the back. As we were coming up to the first cascade that we came to in the beginning of the day Doc and I hear FalGall shouting something. She ran across Wicked Witch taking a nap just off the side of the trail under a shade tree. It truly was a perfect spot, but we were pretty happy that someone saw her. Getting back to camp without her there waiting for us would have caused some chaos!

We made claim to the base of the cascade and decided it was time to get a swim in, and some R&R. This turned out to be one of the trips highlights and we were so happy that our plans changed, if it were not for that, we would have never found this place. Although the falls were not perfectly smooth, they were smooth enough to make a great slide. Each time climbing a little higher, the slide would get a little faster! We swam for a minute or so at a time; that was about all we could handle at such a cold temperature. We sun bathed on the rocks, had some laughs, and then headed back to camp.

Camp was filled with more relaxing. FallGal and myself set up the hammock. Some decided to nap while others were filling water bottles, washing clothes, making dinner, and doing other chores for the day. We had 2 more bear sightings today as well. The first was a pretty good sized bear that was strolling through the perimeter of camp. We had to scare it away as it was pretty brave and very curious. The other was a cub, could not have been much more than a year old across the other side of the river. The bear scoped out camp from a distance and then took off up the mountain side. As the sun was making it to the edges of the horizon we made dinner and talked about our plan for the 4th and last night of the trip as we would be leaving the 5th day. Because of the area we were in and the limited camping zones we decided the best course of action was to pick a new route and head down to the valley floor. From there we would set up camp in a backpackers camp site. We were feeling much better by the end of the night. The day hike worked all the stiffness out of our muscles, we got some good food in us, and the pace was so relaxing our mental edge was coming back. Unlike the other 2 nights where we passed out immediately, we all stayed up talking from tent to tent for an hour or so, laughing and reminiscing of the trip already nearing an end.

Since this blog is really all about showing the stories of backpacking through the eyes of beginners, I think it is important to touch on a valuable lesson we learned here. It is necessary to have a well thought out plan, but it is even more necessary to know when a better plan is to change your plans. If we as a group would have let our pride get in the way and continued to push on, our trip may have ended a day early with people not able to finish. Sometimes that unexpected detour can make for one of your best adventures!

Here is a slide show of day 3!

Yosemite Day 3 of 5 from The Backpacking Journal on Vimeo.

Keep an eye out in a few days for day 4 of the trip…RAIN is in the forecast!