The Trail Less Traveled

The last installment (for now) from our backpacking trip to Yosemite . . .

Waking up that morning, we were the kind of tired you get from hiking a 1500 foot rise in elevation twice carrying close to 40 pounds on your back combined with not sleeping well.  One of my bad decisions to reduce the weight of my pack was to use an ultra-thin thermal sleeping pad that was 3/4 long.  That was a decision I would regret every night of our trip.  If there’s one thing a body needs when you’re pushing it hard is good rest and an ultralight, 3/4 length sleeping pad is not the way to get it.

So, there we were, still with no appetite although the nausea had subsided some, super tired, and in the middle of a mosquito festival.  We moved extraordinarily quickly getting out of camp that morning.  That’s one thing about through hiking–if you hate where you camp the first night, it’s only one night.

We were headed up the final ascent to El Capitan.  Although our tired bodies could feel the climb, it was a relatively gradual ascent.  Given we were already suffering from some altitude sickness, going up was not the best direction, but it wasn’t like we were climbing Everest and potentially going to die from altitude sickness.  We did not, however, move very quickly as we made our way up those last couple of miles to the top of El Capitan.

Fortunately for us, we weren’t far from the top.  We made it before lunch even at our snail’s pace.  Even more fortunately, our appetites started to return and we managed to snack and feel a little more energized before we got there.

As we walked out onto the top of El Capitan, any aches or pains were forgotten.  It was the first time we stood together looking at the panoramic view of Yosemite valley.  It was Pat’s first time in Yosemite, and I was relieved that he felt the same amazement I felt when I saw a similar view from the top of Half Dome a couple years earlier.

After the nausea, fatigue, poor night’s sleep, and mosquitos, I felt giddy with relief that Pat thought it was worth it to stand there with me.

We spent an hour there.  We had our lunch on top of El Capitan, enjoying the view and the sense of achievement.  While we didn’t climb up the face like the rock climbers who come every year, we had pushed ourselves enough to still feel that rush of “I really did something.”

Although we were there during peak tourist season, we didn’t see anyone until after we got past El Capitan.  Up until that point, we’d had the trail completely to ourselves.  Of the tens of thousands of people in the park at the same time we were there, not one of them crossed paths with us for that day and a half. We truly felt like wilderness explorers.

P.S.  In case you’re wondering, the photo with the “Outdoor Source” bandanna is because they offered a discount if you brought them a picture with their logo on the trail.