Continuing from my last post, I’ll skip the other backpacking practice trips we went on between Wildcat Hollow and Yosemite–let’s just say that I experimented with “ultra-light backpacking” methods and decided having rain covers for the backpacks, a dry change of clothes, and a waterproof tarp was really worth the extra weight.
That said, we arrived in Yosemite fully prepared. However, having spent the day flying across the country and driving to the park, we weren’t up for hitting the trail as soon as we got there. Instead, we stayed in the Tent Cabins where we got to watch a video of a black bear peeling open a car door to get to a forgotten cookie.
We were very careful about using approved bear containers.
Our first day on the trail was a bit more complicated than we thought. First of all, by the time we ate breakfast, got our gear packed, got our backcountry permit and bear canisters, and figured out where to safely store stuff we weren’t taking with us, it was nearly noon.
We also had a complication to deal with. The trail we were going to take was closed. We were going to have to take a different, longer route with more elevation ups and downs. We hitchhiked for the first time (this is really not like hitchhiking on the freeway–even the park rangers suggested hitching to the trailhead).
It seemed quite a coincidence that a German picked us up given that my husband is German. They chatted in their native tongue until our driver almost ran into oncoming traffic. Then my husband decided maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to talk while the guy was driving.
We made it safely to our trailhead. We started the long climb from the valley floor toward or goal, the top of El Capitan. There are only two ways to get to the top of El Capitan: hike the slow climb up the back or climb the steep face with ropes. We picked the long, slow route.
The start of the trail was through what seemed like miles through a burned out area of the forest. With no shade, we felt like we were being cooked like ants under a magnifying glass. We were both relieved when we made it into the woods.
From then on, the scenery improved, water sources were plentiful, and Pat stopped complaining. However, we both started suffering from mild altitude sickness. Not something we expected at those elevation.
We ended up stopping short of our distance goal for the night. We had trouble forcing ourselves to eat, feeling slightly nauseous. We happened to pick a mosquito resort area, so we quickly retreated to our tent and went to bed early. I realized as I fell asleep that the one thing I’d forgotten was gatorade–it’s awesome when altitude sickness is an issue and you need calories that don’t make you nauseous.
Oh, and the non-toxic mosquito repellant didn’t work.