Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Yosemite Redux! - Hikin' the Mist Trail

Saturday, 2012-04-28

Good morning!

I woke up after 8:00am and already had a head-ache. I think I slept head-down on a slight angle without realizing it. The wine might have contributed, too. Breakfast was eggs with leftovers from last night: steak, potatoes, and squash.; very good.

Breakfast up!

Morning light.

Now you see 'em...

...Now you don't.

Re-packing my pack. Trying to stick to the "essentials" on this hike.

Packed up and ready to roll. Rendezvous at Ansel Adams Gallery this afternoon.

Gone Hikin'!

Once the car was packed up, S.- went in search of some photographic scenery and some writing time, while I engaged in my "training hike" up the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Falls, then onward to the John Muir Trail, and back down to the bus-stop for a ride to the gallery.

Launch point: Needed some open sky to start my Garmin.
Looks like I am on the right path.

Vernal Falls Footbridge, we meet again.

If you have walked this trail before you know how steep it is. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath before I got to the bridge, then decided to take an extended break here and top off my Camelbak water bladder, eat some fruit, then press on.

It's just not a rest-break without a photo-op.

The intrepid adventurer takes a break. Sepia tone is cool.

The Mist Trail, actually misty today.

My boots are taking in the scenery.
Actually, the boots, my trekking poles, and I were waiting for the traffic-jam to clear a bit. I purchased a set of Leki curved rubber caps for my 'poles, and they worked far better than the rounded ones that were included with the poles. Last year, I left the original rubber caps on, and over the course of hiking up to the base of the Quarter Dome, and back down the JMT, I had completely worn through the base of the caps.

That's the traffic jam up the trail: Lots of people hiking up, and stumbling down.

View of Vernal Falls (middle), and Nevada Falls (top) from Glacier Point. Courtesy of S.-

The mist is in the air...
Standing water on the trail (in many places).

Woo-Hoo! I made it to the top, again. This time it was all self-motivation.
Once I had rested up for something like (40)min. (ate something, napped a little, tried to decide if I really was going to barf this time from the exertion) I moved on up the trail. I had to find the linking trail from the top of Vernal to the John Muir Trail, which I already knew was above me and to the south of the Nevada Falls. I just wasn't sure where the path was, since we had bypassed that section on the hike last year, and it did not seem to be obviously marked.

Once I found an upward-running trail, I followed it. Several people I asked did not know if it connected to the JMT, or where it went, so I trusted my direction of travel to get me there anyway. A couple of people even asked me, and I told them I was not sure, but believed that it would get us there; they gave up in frustration after a few upward switchbacks.

Looking back down into the valley. The Merced River is in the middle.

Vista point! Vernal Falls from the linking trail up to the JMT.

Nevada Falls from the link-up point with the JMT. (Clark Point, elev. 5400 ft.?)

USGS Marker: "U.S. Geological Survey B.M. 250 Dollars Fine for Disturbing this Mark, 10-18-1905."

Signage at the intersection. Signage (c) The Yosemite Fund?



Um... Is this the road to Mirkwood Forest?
A lonely patch of snow hiding out in the curve of the trail. (It's shady in the morning...)
I'm close to the river again! The footbridge must be close now.

Back across the bridge and into the final stretch.
Illilouette Fall across the valley. The clouds are covering the valley again.
Back at the trail sign!! The end is near.
On the bus! Time: 1810-hrs. (6:10PM). Only (70)min. overdue for rendezvous with S.-. *sigh*
Through the trees: Upper Yosemite Falls. Only minutes more to the Ansel Adams Gallery.
I finally got back down to the bus stop (Stop #16-Happy Isles on the bus loop map) at about 1800 hrs. (6:00PM), an hour late for the secondary rendezvous time. D'oh! I arrived at the Ansel Adams Gallery and S.- was still patiently waiting on a bench across from the gallery, reading a book. I sat down for a couple of minutes, apologized, and recapped my adventure hike, then we advanced back to the car to leave the park.

At this time we were both cold, tired and hungry, and Clif Bars did not sound appealing. Once we were out of the park we proceeded immediately to The Happy Burger Diner in Mariposa. I nodded off at some point during the drive, but S.- was at the wheel and we arrived promptly after dark. Our meals were very satisfying, and I even had a cup of coffee to try and stay awake for the rest of the trip back to Merced. I still nodded off a little near Merced. Tired as I was, I actually remained awake the entire drive back to Modesto. Boy was I tired. What a great weekend!

Time to Vernal Falls Footbridge: (1.00)hr.
Rest-time at Footbridge: (44)min.
Time to top of Vernal Falls: (58)min.
Rest-time at top of Vernal: (41)min.
Time back to the footbridge via JMT: (1:33+)hrs. [Garmin battery died before I hit the bridge again.]
Total Recoded Time, Trail Head Parking Lot to Garmin Died Point: (5:00:03.96)hrs.
Actual total trail time: (6:00+)hrs.


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'!