September 20, 2016
Jonathan and I returned from a close friend's wedding in Boston two days earlier and spent time with family all day Monday. Early Tuesday morning we left LA and headed north, past Mammoth Lakes to the east entrance to Yosemite National Park. Jonathan finally got his wish -- taking me backpacking in Yosemite. I remember early on in our relationship, he talked about how he had gone backpacking and I asked, "Is that where you were a life preserver on your back?!". Wow - so innocent and so naive! I think I meant a backpack but called it a life preserver instead.
We arrived at Tuolumne Meadows campground in the early afternoon and had a relaxing afternoon with beautiful weather. We knew there was a chance of rain the following day, so Jonathan went out to take photos of the stars our first night.
September 21, 2016
In almost every national park, a certain percentage of the campgrounds and backcountry permits are first come first serve. Since we didn't plan ahead of time, we drove up early to hopefully snag backcountry permits on Wednesday to begin hiking on Thursday. Unfortunately, that also meant we basically had to burn a day waiting at the Wilderness Permit Office. After we received our free permits to do our trip, we decided to try to do a short day hike to May Lake and possibly Mount Hoffman. On our way, we stopped by the Tuolumne Grill and happened upon some tables with rangers promoting the annual Yosemite Facelift program. Every year, visitors are urged to participate in cleaning up the park by picking up trash wherever they happen to be visiting that day. Each person is rewarded with a Kleen Canteen water bottle and a raffle ticket to win other prizes. We happily participated. Jonathan picked up about two pounds of cigarette butts at roadside pullouts around the Tuolumne area. Yay, but gross!
Our late afternoon was spent mostly sitting in the car as it rained, but we were able to sit outside for a little while and Jonathan captured how quickly the clouds were moving and even some hail!
September 22, 2016
Jason, Paula and Wallace arrived at around 930 AM on Thursday ready to start hiking. Wallace was responsible for organizing all the food for the trip, so we distributed the shared food and gear between the boys' packs and hit the trail. Day 1 was about 3.4 miles to Lower Cathedral Lake, which is a relatively easy trail with only a short uphill section.
After we found an area to setup camp, we settled in, cooked our dinner before the sun went down and then bundled up for the impending below freezing night. We sat with our own private view of the sun setting over Lower Cathedral Lake wearing almost all the clothing we had packed including our rain jackets to keep as warm as possible. Unfortunately, due to the altitude at Lower Cathedral Lake, no campfires are permitted, so we just had to do our best to stay warm.
As the sun disappeared behind the horizon, we picked up our chairs and headed straight for our sleeping bags.
After about an hour of laying in the tent, Jonathan headed outside to check out the stars. He wasn't disappointed. He even got to practice some light painting he'd picked up from some free online courses. You can see some of the differences between no light and light painting below.
First night of backpacking down! But...the freezing temps were something else. I woke up in the middle of the night and was completely convinced that my two big toes were frozen. I thought about waking Jonathan up...and figured I would just go back to sleep and see what the outcome was in the morning. Success! I still had my toes the next morning.