Monday, July 28, 2003

Tuolumne Meadows trip photos are up now. Go to my webshot page and select album Tuolumne2003.

Here is a picture of my cute new nephew, Max.

My Yosemite trip was very fun but very tiring. I left the bay area at 11:30 a.m. on Friday. I made good time until highway 205 when I ran into stop and go traffic. I decided to take a lunch break at Tracy in hopes the traffic would improve when I got back on the freeway. I munched down a hamburger, fries, and frosty at Wendy's. I headed back on to 205. It was still trafficy but not as bad as before lunch. I drank lots of liquids on the drive to get well hydrated for the high altitude hikes. Highway 120 was free of traffic. I decided to give the Priest Grade road a try in the climb up to Groveland on 120. I didn't mind the driving conditions (steep and twisty) but my car minded. By the top my engine temperature gage had edged a little closer to the red zone. I stopped for a rest break, to get more gas and to let the engine cool a little just before Groveland. By the time I was done visiting the porta potty, getting something to drink, and fillin gup the car with gas, the engine temperature had dropped back to normal. Phew. The rest of the drive was uneventful but beautiful as I neared Tuolumne meadows. I arrived at the campsite at 5 p.m. to a site deserted of people but with lots of tents up. I figured most folks were on the Mt. Hoffman hike that started at 2:00 p.m. I put up my tent, got my food in the bear locker, and then fixed myself some dinner. By the time I was all done with dinner folks finally started arriving back from their day's hiking. It was a really nice group of people. We had fun socializing that night. I teamed up with one of the women's 10 year old daughter to try and start a coal fire. It was fun because the 10 year old was so inton it and hung on my every word. However we failed to start the coals. We had no lighter fluid or coal starter contraption so were trying to get them to start with newspapers. The papers just didn't stay lit long enough to catch the coals. The problem was finally solved when we found another bag of matchlight coals and this time these coals were easily lit with just a match. I head to bed around 9 p.m. as I needed lots of sleep before the hike on Saturday.

Saturday I was up at 7 a.m. after a fairly good nights sleep. I did have to rouse myself a couple times to visit the restroom because I had drunk so much liquids. I got myself some breakfast, packed up my backpack for the Clouds Rest hike, put on gobs of sun screen, and continued to drink water to keep me well hydrated. Everyone was ready for the hike by 9:30 a.m. We caught a shuttle to Tenaya Lake and were on the trail by 10:30 a.m. It was a beautiful day: sunny but with wonderful whispy white clouds wandering around the sky. The first challenge of the hike was rock hopping across a stream. Everyone managed it. Then came the big hill climb up the switch back trail. I just put my head down and trudged up it. At Sunrise junction (the top of the switch backs) we had a rest. Then we were off hiking the relatively flat portion. There were lots if flowers to gaze at on this section and one peaceful still pond. After the flat portion we started our climb up to Clouds Rest. It was so beautiful on top. We did have to coax several people over the scary rock scramble to the top. Two folks passed on the scramble and waited for us to return. About 4 folks were very glad they braved the scramble. There is an incredible view of Yosemite valley, Half Dome, and mountain peaks to be seen from Clouds Rest. There was a cute little chipmunk on Cloud's Rest wandering around looking for food handouts or crumbs. He got a raison I dropped on the ground. I didn't drop it for him but it was cute to see him nibble on it while holding it between his paws. I try to not feed animals in the wild but I have to admit it was very cute to watch this chipmunk nibble at the raison. After lunch and picture taking we started back to Tenaya Lake. At Sunrise junction we checked the time and it was 4 p.m. We started booking it down to Tenaya at that point because we wanted to catch the 5:30 p.m. shuttle. We made it to the Shuttle stop at 5:15 and caught the shuttle! If we hadn't caught the shuttle we would have been stuck there till 6:30 p.m. when the next shuttle was scheduled at the stop. Everyone was in good spirits and very pleased with the day's hike.

Saturday night I bought myself a burger at the grill and brought it back to camp and joined others who were cooking themselves dinner. We had many good conversations. Shortly after we finished dinner the sky started to darken and sporadic rain was dropping on us. We heard faint thunder too. Everyone was sort of rushing around to get rain jackets and put away stuff that needed to stay dry into the bear lockers. Then one of us noticed a rainbow in the sky. I walked out to a clearing and it was a double rainbow. I took some pictures and I hope they turn out! I headed to bed when the rain started to get more steady. I read the book I had brought with me for a bit until nature called and I had to make a trip to the restroom. I was back in my tent at 9 p.m. and went to sleep. I was woken up at 11:30 p.m. by a full bladder and noisy neighbors. I got up to go to the bathroom and maybe to ask the neighbor's to quiet down a bit. Fortunately when I got back the neighbor's had quieted down considerably so I didn't have to have a confrontation with them. I had another good nights sleep.

Sunday was the Mt. Dana hike. My preparations were a repeat of Saturday's. The only surprise was when I went to sign in for the hike, I had become a co-leader of the hike without anyone asking me if I would do it. I did say OK I'll co-lead. What they really wanted was for me to be the sweep. One of the other two leaders had her fill of sweeping the day before and the other leader didn't want to sweep either so it fell to me. I don't mind sweeping and find it more relaxing than being up front leading the way. Mt. Dana was the big hike for me. Last time I had hiked to Mt. Dana, I was mildly altitude sick and very dehydrated. I had finished the hike with a very painful headache. This time I drank like a fish all weekend to get ready for the Dana hike. I also took some aspirin before the hike and when I reached the peak. I tried to drink lots on the hike too. I drank two quarts of water but only managed to eat 2/3 of a Cliff Bar while on the hike. We had to skidaddle off the peak where I was going to eat lunch because the skies were darkening and we didn't want to be up there in a thunder storm! I had a slight stomach ache on the way up which made the last bit of the hike climbing over lots of large rock. I had to stop every 10 steps or so during the last bit to catch my breath and let my stomach settle down a bit. We determined that the stomach problem was not related to altitude because it wasn't queasiness. It was more like painful gas. Ug. When I got to the top and had a small rest and passed some wind so to speak I felt much better. I didn't have a headache. Keeping hydrated definitely helped a whole bunch. The hike itself was lots of steep switchbacks in the first half and lots of rock scrambling in the top half. It was very challenging and strenuous but two of us just trudged along in the rear trying not to think about how far it was to the top. The other woman stuck with me because she liked my pace. We made it to the top in about 3.5 hours. Then we motored down the mountain in 2 hours. I was very happy to have completed the hike without getting dehydrated or altitude sick this time.

After the hike it was time to drive home. I gave D. a ride home as his ride wasn't going to leave till Monday morning and he wanted to return Sunday night. We had a nice time catching up with each other's news. We made great time on the drive home. We ran into zero traffic. I got D. to his house in a little under 5 hours. I was home about 30 minutes later. I did do a scatter brained thing on the way home. I stopped at a gas station. I took my gas cap off and went to pump the gas when I discovered they didn't take a credit card. I had just enough gas to get home so I decided to leave and fill up the tank when I got to Mtn. View where I could use my credit card. If you haven't guessed it by now, I drove away without replacing the gas cap. I'm now short a gas cap. This afternoon I'll go to an auto parts store and see if they sell gas caps for my make of car. Oh well. It wouldn't be a proper trip without at least one snafu.

All in all it was a marvelous weekend at Yosmite. The company was good and I tackled some really challenging and beautiful hikes. I'm tired and sore this Monday but I'm not surprised. All that down hill really took it to my knees. I was groaning as I came down the stairs this morning. But I think the soreness will go away quickly. I should be back to my old self by the backpacking trip coming up this next Thursday to Monday.

I'll have pictures up by tomorrow!