Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Return to Yosemite

So we're back...unfortunately. If I sound depressed writing this blog it's probably because my trip is over, the Chargers suck and the Padres have broken my heart...again.

But enough of that!

Here are some photos of my last trip.

Like always, the Park never disappoints.

I bummed a ride up with Jessica's dad Jim, and her uncle Joe. Two Jersey brothers with foul mouths, strange bodily noises, good taste in beer, and old stories I have been sworn to secrecy with; quality gentlemen in my book.

Jessica's Uncle, a few of her father's friends and myself decided to embark on a 24 mile hike on a whim Friday night. Promising to wake up early the next morning (and by early I mean 4:45 am) we would meet at the trail head and head out. If it weren't for Jessica's uncle Joe, I would never have gotten out of that bed. It must have been like -5687 degrees and it was still dark when I stumbled out of my sleeping bag cocoon. The freaking stars were still out for heavens sake. If you know me at all, you know I don't really function properly until I've been awake for at least a couple hours, and well this morning was no exception. Had I not prepared the night before, I would have tried that hike wearing only my boxers, my sandals, and brought no food with me other than some gum and peanuts. I grabbed my stuff, through on some clothes, forgot to eat breakfast and we shivered our way down the path to the trail head and met up with the rest of the bunch.
If you're not familiar with Yosemite, the magnitude of this hike may be lost in translation, but I have to say that this was by far the most challenging hike I have ever done. Not necessarily for the danger or trail conditions, the danger was low and the trail was wonderfully well kept the entire way; but more for the freaking length of the hike and the altitude we traversed.

Starting at the valley floor of 3000 ft. we ended at the peak of Clouds Rest (well above half dome) at 10,000 ft. That's a 7000 ft elevation in only 12 miles. Joe and I had wisely decided to try out this hike after consuming about 10 beers a piece the night before. Man, did we pay for that in the first 3 miles. I must have drank my entire body weight in water in about 2 hours. Anyhow, after the hangovers wore off, and the sun came up we found ourselves walking beneath half dome and surrounded by hundred foot pine trees, immense mountain peaks, and no people to speak of whatsoever. The trail, for being as well traversed and maintained as it was, was pretty freaking evil. The damn thing never flattened out, it just kept going up and up and up.
Like some godforsaken ramp to nowhere this trail never let up. I consider myself in pretty good shape, and I was with some older guys who weren't any slouches either, but man did that trail kick my ass. It was well worth it though. The view from the top was breathtaking, literally at 10,000 feet breathing is an effort in it's own right. Not only did my feet feel like an elephant had been doing jumping jacks on them for the past 6 hours, but atop the peak my lungs felt like Evander Hollifield had socked me in the gut a few times. It was looney, but incredible. I must have passed out on the mtn. for about 45 minutes. I think I only snapped about 6 photos up there. Which is a testament to how exhausted I was, I generally take 20 photos of a flower, when there's a 360 degree view of the world's most beautiful landscape, and I only take 6 photos, my brain is operating on a very limited budget. But they came out alright, I suppose. =)
As soon as woke up and popped off those shots, the wind picked up and it must have dropped the temperature about 10 degrees (to something like 45-50 degrees), so we decided to head back.

We blazed down that trail and got about half way back in no time when our bodies started to give out. Well mine and Joe's at least. The three other guys ran marathons and crap and felt no pain or discomfort whatsoever, the jerks. My knees started to feel like the were melting into a rubbery, burning mess. we had another 3000 feet to drop in about 3 miles and I could barely move my feet. It was nuts. I think Joe and I must have uttered more curse words in those 3 miles than mankind has ever uttered in the collective history of civilization.
But we made it. Fittingly, our 24 mile marathon of torture trail blended into the 6 mile hike grandma can take to go see the pretty waterfalls. So as we were grasping for every inch of trail like dying men in the sahara desert, little kids just learning to walk were sprinting by us, old ladies were pushing us aside with their walkers, German tourists were posing next to us taking photos...it was humiliating. But worth it, that hike was awesome.
The next few days revolved around drinking beer, swallowing 800 mg of pain killers, riding bikes, and limping around the valley floor. Jim, Joe and I ran into a mama bear and her cub on accident, and while wrestling a bear sounded like a really cool idea, we just gave them a wide birth and took hundreds of photos.

We spent our afternoons on sandy river beds watching rock climbers scaling El Capitan and passing out in the sunlight while the wind rushed through the thick pines surrounding us. We spent the last few nights in our tent cabin listening to the crazy conversations of Germans, Asians, children and bears rummaging through trash. All in all it was just what I thought it would be, a giant breath of fresh air and a break from the daily grind.

1 comment:

Julia said...

You call 4:45 early! Pfffft! Nice training hike for Mt. Whitney though -- you guys should do that next!