September 24, 2016
Big day hike today, about 12 miles round trip to the top of Cloud's Rest and back. Unfortunately, Wallace misplaced his water bottle at the top of the ridge on the way from Cathedral Lake to Sunrise Lake, so we were down to four water bottles. Stupid us, we also decided not to bring a water pump and instead tried to ration the four bottles amongst the five of us.
The hike from Sunrise Lakes to Cloud's Rest isn't actually all that bad considering that we avoided the worst hill, which is from Tuolumne up to the junction above Sunrise. Jason would describe it as a "Death March". Thankfully, we didn't have to do that portion of the hike. The day hikers from Tuolumne were not as lucky.
As you arrive at Cloud's Rest, the dirt trail changes to a rocky ridge where trees disappear and the view becomes insane.
The best part about Cloud's Rest is the view of Half Dome and the valley. This is the exact opposite perspective you get from Glacier Point. It's also the rarely seen back of Half Dome. The last time Jonathan and Wallace hiked this trail was probably close to 15-20 years ago. They said they had it all to themselves all those years ago. Well, that was definitely not the case when we hiked it. There has been a significant increase in visitors to the National Parks each year and as a reference point, the ranger at the Wilderness Permit Office informed us that this year was expected to be the most backpackers coming thru Yosemite ever, up to 70,000 from the previous high of 40,000 in 2013. Just imagine the corresponding increase in day visitors?!?!
For those of you who don't know our friend Wallace, this is him below. He was Jonathan and Jason's YMCA leader from when they were kids and has played a key role in their interest in the outdoors and also skiing and snowboarding. It's been awesome having him along on various parts of our travels over the past few years. He's always up for an adventure. It was great having him along for this trip.
The view opposite of Half Dome is just as spectacular with mountain peaks as far as the eye can see.
We arrived back at our campsite around 430 PM. As we began preparing our dinner we met a fellow lone camper and invited her to share our campfire. After sunset, she joined us. There's something about backpacking that brings people together. People seem to be more friendly with strangers when sharing these types of outdoor experiences.
September 25, 2016
We awoke on our last morning and hit the trail by 9 AM. We picked up our new friend Mayumi closer to the trail and headed on our last ~3.4 miles.
You can see how happy I am that we're near the end! All kidding aside, I had a great time and looking forward to backpacking again in the future.