Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Yosemite Redux! - Camping

Friday, 2012-04-27

I've been awake since I can't quite remember, I just know that I have had only about (4)hrs. of sleep, then did my 7th CrossFit session with my trainer. I felt pretty wiped out by then, but once I was home again, showered and fed (turkey sandwich with Pepper-jack cheese and pickles) I was much better.

I finally got everything I planned to take with me in the car, and hit the road to Merced. I met up with S.- to carpool to Yosemite. [S.- invited me along on the trip. She had been busy with school and was looking forward to getting out into the woods to relax a bit, and was able to score a camp site after all.] She was far better organized and prepared for this car camping trip than I was: I haven't been "camping" in forever. [Staying in the tent-cabins at Curry Village last year was pretty awesome, however.] S.- actually has camping equipment pretty much ready and waiting whenever she wants to pack it into her car and go; that's cool. Next stop, Yosemite!

The day was sunny and clear-ish in The Valley, but once we got to Yosemite it was fully overcast and cool. Seeing the waterfalls on either side of the valley falling out of the clouds was pretty awesome. Too bad I didn't have my camera at hand to capture it. S.- was kind enough to point it out, however, since I was tired and a little slow on the uptake.

Yosemite Falls, falling out of the clouds.
We arrived at Upper Pines and got checked into our site. I wasn't sure if there was some "etiquette" to tent placement, so I set-up mine inside the wooden border; she chose outside the border.

The tents are pitched! REI HalfDome 2-person tent, w/ rainfly & foot-print.
All my stuff fits! It does look a little crowded at this angle, however.

I rented my tent from REI Stockton at very reasonable rates. I also opted to rent a self-inflating Thermarest sleeping pad. It was not quite as impressive as I had expected, but it worked fine. I was only slightly concerned that the tree at the left of my tent (top tent pic) might fall over and kill me during the night. It was leaning directly over my tent, but at least it did not have a canopy of limbs and such to shower me with water if rain developed overnight.

One of several "campers" that brought their own rolling youth hostel.
Our loop of the Upper Pines was fairly full. We did get some late arrivals that had to set-up their tents in the dark by car headlight. The folks in the two-story camper above had two teen boys who took turns throwing a hatchet at a tree. Happily, the hatchet did not ricochet off the tree and hit someone.

I bought two bundles of firewood at Home Depot in Modesto the day before (a variety pack of woods), but it turned out not to be enough: There was no kindling included, and trying to use S.-'s hatchet to split some of the logs into smaller pieces for kindling was only minimally successful. But I got a fire started all the same! Naturally, the matches and Firebug pellets were an essential ingredient.

First time starting a "camp fire" since my days in the Boy Scouts. It didn't last long. :-(

We had stopped in at the Yosemite Village store earlier for new mantels for the propane lantern (the old ones went up in a puff of smoke), and ended up going back to buy a box of firewood. The store had prepackaged boxes of firewood, kindling included! I was very happy. Once we returned to camp I continued with my fire-making efforts. I think Campfire Mark IV was the one that finally stayed and burned till late.

S.- cooking dinner on her Coleman propane stove. Campfire Mark IV in the foreground.
We were both a little disappointed in my campfire skills as we had hoped to cook the steaks over the fire-pit. Maybe next time. At least I have refresher experience building a fire, and S.- reminded me that the teepee method was the right one. I just looked it up in my old Official Boy Scout Handbook by William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt, December 1981 (Ninth Edition, Fifth Printing). I'll have to remember to take this book along on future camping trips. [Advance planning on my part, including preparation of a fire-building kit, would certainly be helpful.] My fire kit on this trip was: Lightnin' Bug pellets (small), Uco Stormproof Matches in a yellow plastic matchbox (includes a little bit of cotton tinder in cap), the aforementioned Home Depot firewood bundles, a few pine needles found at the campsite (not usually recommended, at least not at Yosemite), some newspaper and other paper products that S.- had on-hand. She sure is smart, and experienced, at makin' fire.

Dinner turned out beautifully: S.- had pre-seasoned and packed tinfoil packs of new potatoes; small squash and zucchini (I think); and the steaks. The Coleman stove had a grilling plate for the steaks, and they were mighty tasty. Two bottles of red wine helped keep us warm while I dilly-dallied with the fire. Dessert was strawberries, chocolate, and more in a combination that was very tasty. We huddled next to the fire till we finally turned in for the night. I was surprised to see the sky had finally cleared. The moon and some stars were visible through the trees.

Next time: Hikin'!



Rizza said...

Ha! You went to the same school of campfire building as S & D, I see... Starbuck and I had many a good laugh over their (in)ability to build a fire in less than 30 seconds. But not everyone can be a Canerdian girl who inherently knows how to do such things. Plus, it's entertaining to watch the "Boy Scout method." :)

Lancer!! said...

Glad to see you found it so amusing, Rizza. :-) In our defense, we are old, and we left the 'Scouts a long-long time ago.


Alisyn said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun! :)

Lancer!! said...

I did indeed!