Although I have done a good amount of backpacking and hiking within Yosemite, the area (Tuolumne Meadows-Glen Aulin-Waterwheel Falls) we visited this year has to be my almost-favorite destination, basically tying with the two awesome--in the original sense--destinations of Half Dome (climbed twice--ETA actually Three Times!) and perhaps I shall once more this year with my brother and yes, I know three people have died there this year!) and the top of Yosemite Falls (three times--once backpacking, twice hiking). That said, let me share a bit of our trip with you.
Monday, June 25
Our evening was spent in the uber-touristy Yosemite Valley, with me feeling as nervous as a girl on a first date and a bit tongue-tied around John as this was the first time we had seen each other in over a month! We ate pizza at Degnan's Deli and then drank some good Cabernet Sauvignon while watching the sky for shooting stars in the Backpacker's Camp. We also kept a sharp watch out for the camp's black bear!
Tuesday, June 26
Breakfast at the Ahwahnee Hotel followed by an hour+ drive up Tioga Pass to Tuolumne Meadows (the starting point for our backpacking trip). We stopped at the Backpacker's/Rockclimber's store to buy some dehydrated food for dinner (the only vegetarian choice was Backpacker's Pantry Lasagna--which turned out to be the crappiest tasting dehydrated food I've had yet!).
After quickly packing our backpacks, John and I headed out on the trail
to Glen Aulin where we'd be staying for two nights. Along the way we saw this super-fat Marmot sunning himself on the rock (and now that I look more closely at the picture, I can see he also was sitting quite nonchalantly surrounded by a bunch of pooh!).
We also saw a coyote--my first in person!--a gazillion lizards and squirrels, and many more marmots of a much more Kate Moss-ish figure (i.e. skinny marmots!).
After about a 5.5 mile hike, we arrived at Glen Aulin starving and more
than burnt out on our lunch of Power Bars and Jelly Belly Sport Beans.
Lo and behold, magically appearing before our eyes was the Glen Aulin
High Sierra Camp "Restaurant ":
Now, she may not look like much, but she had gloriously yummy food for purchase--served at indoor tables (which means NO MOSQUITOES!), multiple courses, and seats. Seats, by gods, seats which are quite the commodity after carrying every single thing you need on your back up and down hills, through dusty gulches, step-stepping around horse and mule shit.
Luckily, the restaurant took us in without reservations (normally required) and so we quickly set up our campsite (yep, that's just mosquito netting--no tent) :
and then headed back to eat raviolis with alfredo and/or marinara sauce, vegetable soup, salad, veggies, and triple chocolate cake! Yum!
We then joined a ranger for some campfire talk, but unfortunately gathered in around the time she decided to have the groups around the campfire sing Girl Scout songs. Hmmm...Not quite my thing now that I am no longer a Brownie and have no children, so we headed back to our campsite to look at the stars--under our mosquito net--and fall asleep. (Although, I must cop to going to Brownie camp--Camp El-O-Win--in third grade and loving singing campfire songs around a campfire!)
Wednesday, June 27
We woke up at at 7:15 to make the 7:30 breakfast at the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp "restaurant". Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, pancakes, bacon for the carnivores, eggs, and a few other things that I fail to remember now. After eating we scurried back to our campsite, dragged our sleeping pads and bags out from under the mosquito net and laid down on a rock in the sun--and fell asleep for another 2.5 hours! I also got a bit of Sockapalooza knitting done. For a midmorning snack, we noshed on some leftover triple chocolate cake that had been handed out at breakfast--ah, the joy of backpacking, one gets to freely nosh, nosh, and nosh since one burns so many darn calories.
Our trek for the day was to hike further along the trail to see...WATERFALLS! The trail along the way was gorgeous as it meandered for a good part along the Tuolumne River with scenes like this:
Before making a steep descent down to Waterwheel Falls which were quite impressive, but could have been much more so if California had gotten more than 46% (ouch!) of its normal rainfall this winter! Despite the water shortage, the falls were a-fallin' and swooshing away. Here is a pic of a waterwheel fall:
And a pic of John goofing around, trying to make his best waterwheel fall with one of our water bottles:
After a short break, we headed up the trail back to our base camp with the thought of HALIBUT! running through our heads as that was to be the main course of our dinner at the Glen Aulin "restaurant". Unfortunately, I missed the backs of my knees while applying sunscreen so I got a bloody painful burn about the size of oranges on my knee backs. Burn mother-fracker, burn!
Dinner was delightfully good and we've decided that next summer we will follow the 49 mile hike through Yosemite that hits all the High Sierra Camps so that we don't have to carry a Bear Canister or any food beyond Power Bars and Jelly Belly Sport Beans which can all be stored in Bear Lockers when not being eaten! (We try--and mostly succeed--at ultra-light backpacking with our packs--fully packed--each weighing in from 18-25 pounds, which is super light compared to most backpacker's packs which weigh anywhere from 36-60 lbs! For a good book on ultra-light backpacking, check out Ray Jardine's Beyond Backpacking.)
We watched the sunset and then hit bed early as the mosquitoes were particularly vicious that evening.
Thursday, June 28
We went the cheap route for breakfast--Power Bars and Jelly Belly Sport Beans--as eating at the High Sierra Camps is expensive about $23 a person or so for a meal! Plus, it is always good to have a goal meal to make a long-ish hike more bearable. Our goal meal was a hamburger for John and a Gardenburger for me, along with fries and a sweet cherry coke at the Tuolumne Meadows Grill. So we packed up camp and said goodbye to the director of the camp (with whom we had reminisced about being students at UC Santa Cruz--the director was class of 1974 and John and I were 2002 and 2003). Then we headed home.
August 14-16th--Wimpy--but Fun!--camping at the Napa-Bothe Campground where we will be silly--but safe--as we wine taste at the four wineries that are located within walking distance of the Campground!
End of August--A 70 mile round-trip backpacking trip to some secret hot springs in the Sierra Nevadas!