7/20/16 – Training Day (9 Miles) – Yosemite to Vernal Falls
Everyday is truly an adventure. Today I woke up at 4:30am as the sun was already coming up over the towering granite elders. I tried to go back to sleep with not much luck… probably due to the sheer excitement of actually being here after so many hours of imagining it in my mind.
I got up and went to the Yosemite park shuttle to take a valley ride and met a nice couple at the bus stop while I waited. They told me about hiking to Happy Isles and walking up to Vernal Falls. That really appealed to me because then I could see “the” Happy Isles where the JMT golden ticket allowed a trail start from. I didn’t get a permit starting from there so this would be a great treat since I needed to hike to acclimate a few miles today, plus I could go to the visitor center and see what they had as far as nicknacks for the JMT. 🙂
So, thanks to the sweet couple, I changed plans right as the bus arrived and walked the mile or so to the Happy Isles visitors center area and saw my first sign for the JMT! Soo excited…so much so the tears started involuntarily streaming from my face! I took lots of pics and crossed the river and headed towards the infamous falls I had read so much about. My pack is weighing in at about 28 pounds without my tent and bear canister so missing some weight, but didn’t want to carry it all for my first hike at higher elevation.
I got on the trail around 7:30am and only took about an hour and 30 minutes but I was soaking wet with sweat by the time i reached the falls. How beautiful they were! If these are just a hint of the beauty I am going to see once I start the trail, I can barely contain myself!!
By the time I was heading back down towards the visitors center, the trail was packed!!! It was actually quite obnoxious! I am soo glad that I went up early! When I got back to camp, I took down my tent and repacked my pack for the millionth time. 🙂 This would be the last real time I could get rid of any extra items that I could live without. Then I waited for for my sweet trail angels to come pick me up to head to Tuolumne campground to complete my last chance for a training hike at 10,000 feet. It was just me and my pack…my best friend for the next few weeks.
After a beautiful drive, and being able to stop along the way at special stops like Yosemite Falls and a pull out where we could see the back of Half Dome, we made it to Tuolumne. This campground is definitely better than Upper Pines where I slept last night. It is large but it is beautiful. Located right on the Tuolumne River, I just know the boys would love love love staying here and swimming in the freezing river. I would love to see all of this with Brian. The beauty helps make the increased amount of people tolerable plus I love hearing John Muir’s name everywhere I go and even at the evening campfire I was able to attend with other hikers!
I decided to go to evening campfire here in the campground and it was led by a young ranger that came through as a hiker 8 years ago and has come back as a ranger ever since. The topic was fire and very provocative. Not really Christian values as he referred to humans as fire monkeys and talked about how we are close to our relatives. But he mentioned a book that was interesting called How Fire Made Us Human by a Harvard professor and I have to admit that I am curious. There were about 50 people at the campfire and the PCT’ers came slowly down the hill to join the fire. They intrigue me…I want to know more about them…they seem to be the true wandering gypsies with free spirits and open hearts. Why are they hiking? What drives them?
When my trail angels drove me to the Tuolumne grille today, the PCT’ers were there at a picnic table opening their resupply boxes. The smell of Patchouli and the dread locks were amazingly refreshing. Again, I am soo intrigued. I don’t know how far they are from the start at Mexican border but they must be about halfway or a little under by now. I know I am not worthy of hanging out with them as I feel uncomfortable and yet so very drawn to them.
I went ahead and reserved the next two nights in this same camp spot rather than staying in the backpackers campground Friday night. Part of me wanted to stay there but the other part of me felt intimidated to do so. I feel like a fake when I am around guys and gals that are PCT hikers…Everyone here is a backpacker and so you aren’t special here unless you are a long distance hiker. In this community, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts are the norm and not the exception. Many eat bran oatmeal and quinoa, vegan or vegetarian diets thus outwardly looking much more energetic and healthy than I do.
Soon, I will be reborn into the spirit that lies dormant as soon as my boots lay their prints in this mountain dirt. I know as each day passes while I am in the mountains again, returning to an community that is soo materialistic and far from the ideals of what is important to me when this journey is complete, it will be less and less attractive and harder to integrate when I return. Then after a while, as usual, I will slowly and daily give in by going back to what surrounds me and forget…and that terrifies me. However, I adore my family and husband and wouldn’t trade them or my life with them for the world. So, for now, I will be satisfied to be a part time wandering gypsy. 🙂
“I will head to the mountains, I will head to the mountains, when the world don’t seem just right, the mountains will hold you tight.” -Owl 2016
“The call of the glacial breeze and the dirt under my feet, can set a restless mind at ease” -Owl 2016