CIMG5621Yosemite 2011 August 30th to September 4th

6 Days 5 Nights backpacking log:

Day 1:

The 3 of us left Lompoc, CA at 1:00 p.m. like bats out of hell and made our way north on HWY 101 to HWY 46 to HWY 41. HWY 41 dead ends into Yosemite National park and then it’s about another 1 ½ hours down to the valley floor from the gate where you pay your $20 entry fee. The rangers are really nice and very informative and give you a map of the park (topo/trail).  It’s a long drive but well worth every second in the truck.

Night 1:

This trip we decided to go in through Tuolumne Meadows area near Tenaya Lake. This is to be our hike in. We arrived really late around 8:30p.m. We had to get to the backpackers campground in Tuolumne Meadows off of HWY 120 (Tioga Pass rd.) This is where we were to spend our first night. We got there and found where we needed to be. I dropped off Bill and Ben @ the campground and drove the vehicle down by Soda Springs rd. to park (no parking in the backpacker’s campground for backpackers). If you make reservations you can camp there and park. Soda Springs rd. is right down the rd. across the Tuolumne River. After parking the truck and hiking back to the campground I finally had some time to set up my tent and cook some well needed dinner. It was getting cold and was supposed to be about 32 degrees this night at 8600ft. of elevation. After eating dinner and hanging out for a little while discussing our itinerary I decided to turn in for the night. I was tired and the dinner made me really sleepy.  Ben and Bill decided to go to bed after.

Day 2:

Woke up early to use the facilities and to make some breakfast when I noticed that someone was sharing our campsite. His name was Barry and he was from Australia. CIMG5589He made some money as an engineer and decided to go on walkabout. He had a very interesting story and was totally cool and easy to talk to. He was making a proper breakfast of fresh eggs, bacon, cheese, peppers, bread and so on. Tons of calories for this guy. He had hitchhiked into Mammoth and bought about 2 weeks of groceries that he kept in the bear locker. He had been there for about 1 week and was staying another. We enjoyed some friendly conversation and as Bill and Ben were waking up we all were sitting around our campsite chit chatting and eating a grand breakfast. We broke camp and left Barry to continue our journey to get over to the wilderness permit office to get our permits, half dome tickets and bear canisters. We were to start our hike in on the Sunrise lakes trailhead.

Ok, now things were getting really exciting as we are getting ready to embark on what I consider to be a trophy hike. One for the record books, a hike to share stories with the grandkids…ok, you get the picture! We get to the trailhead at Tenaya Lake at 8100 ft. around 9:45 am and we begin our journey all excited and pumped up. After about 1 mile of pretty much flat scenery and some up and down sections of the trail the trail shoots skyward to the trail junction to either go to Sunrise High Sierra Camp or to continue down to Cloud’s rest. We got to the trail junction at 9242 ft. (1142 ft. of climbing in 2 miles!) This is a tough climb with granite stairs that seem to be never ending. But a wise man once said “The journey of 1000 miles begins with the 1st step”!  Wait, who said that again? Lao Tsu I think it was. Where was I? Oh yeah. I reached the top of the trail and Bill and Ben met up with me shortly after so we could decide where to go next. We decided to head down towards Cloud’s Rest and camp at a small lake that we found on the TOPO called Henry’s Lake. Before we started down on the trail we decided to take a scenic detour. If you have never been to Pluto Rock you should definitely go! There is a little side foot path off to the right when you get to the trail junction that you follow for about 250 yards and the trail opens up to this fantastic view of the valley with Yosemite’s crown jewel Half Dome in the distance! The view is simply amazing and a must see for any hiker passing through. We hiked our butts over there and took some great photos and just had to sit in silence for a moment to really take it all in. It will leave you speechless. We saw 2 ravens here at the junction. If you have never seen a raven it looks like a really big crow and they have a very distinct hop that they do instead of walking along the ground.  We had a snack and some water to refuel and rehydrate and then we continued our hike down to this small lake that we located right off the trail on the TOPO. This lake is called Henry’s Lake and sits at about 8930 ft. We decided to camp here for the night.

Night 2:

Along the trail we found a sweet, flat campsite that had a fire ring and plenty of room for the three of us. Bill and I hung out and took our packs off. Ben dropped his pack and hiked ahead to see if there was a spot less “BUGGY” (lots of mosquitoes this time of the year). Ben returned very shortly to inform us that he spotted a way better site and it was off the beaten path but already had a fire ring too. Bill and I got our packs on to check out this “Awesome” site. Ben couldn’t have been more dead on as this site was way better by far. It had a large boulder the size of a suburban that had a flat face with a concave “Hearth” as a fire ring. CIMG5633Right across from the fire ring was another large boulder that acted as a reflector for the heat that night when we had our fire. This place, if you can find it, was excellent! Great job Ben! We set up our camp and had some food. I went down to Henry’s Lake to pump some water using my trusty MSR water filter. After cleaning my filter several times I was able to pump a large amount of water and fill up my camelback and drinking bottles enough for dinner. Word to the wise, this lake is not the cleanest and you will have to clean your filter several times. The water looks clean though so it’s misleading. I returned to find Ben and Bill sitting around the camp relaxing and excited all at the same time. “Did you see it they said”? They were like little kids looking into the toy store window at the latest model of Spiderman! “Did you see the coyote”? Coyote? I asked? “No I didn’t”

A coyote had come up to camp and stood on this abnormally white granite rock right next to camp about 5 ft. from Ben and Bill. The coyote then just as easily slipped back into the forest and wasn’t seen again. We had our dinner and sat around the fire and relaxed. I had s few shots of some bourbon and Ben, his whiskey. Ben broke out the flute and started to play and I joined in with my little drum. Thank you Rhonda! Bill entertained us with a nice spoken word rendition of “Smoking Horse” that had all of us laughing our asses off. I am not sure why we don’t have any of that on video but maybe it was for the best! Our campfire that night was so warm. It felt great to have a fire as last year we were too high above the tree line to enjoy a campfire. We stored all of our food in our bear canisters and went to bed shortly after that.   I wanted to get up somewhat early to get on the trail to see Cloud’s Rest. I knew I was going to need some rest for the next day to go up and over that summit with a full pack on.

Day 3:

We work up early the next morning. I made some oatmeal with granola and raisins for breakfast and had a cliff bar, fruit leather and some peanut m&m’s as a snack. Ben and Bill made and ate their breakfasts and we talked about our plans for the day. We decided to go up and over Cloud’s Rest (full pack), around Pinnacle’s and down to Little Yosemite to camp for the night. We packed up all of our gear; made sure the fire was out and pumped more water. We made some slight gear adjustments and headed out back on the trail. This day so far was gearing up to be a lot mellower of a hike. Did I just say “mellower” Nope, Scratch that, it was friggin hard. When we left Henry’s Lake we were at 8930 ft. Well Cloud’s Rest is 9926ft. That’s 996ft. of elevation change in about 3.5 miles ladies and gentlemen. Not too difficult but the altitude was a factor and I being an asthmatic I was starting to feel it a little. After a number of switchbacks we finally made it to the foot path to the summit of Cloud’s Rest (I started to skip and do cartwheels) no, just kidding! Did you really think I was skipping and doing cartwheels with a 50lb pack? I made it to the foot path entrance/trail head right after Ben and sat for a minute to catch my breath and take some more amazing photos/video. Bill caught up and we all went up together. It took us about 20 minutes of hiking (slow when you have a full pack on and are jumping over boulder after boulder) to make it to the summit. The path is about 4ft. wide at its widest and narrows to a butt-puckering 2ft. at one section. Be careful I thought to myself as I traversed and negotiated the large boulders to make my way to the top. You don’t have to go this way, you can go around but I didn’t see that way until it was too late and I was already across.

I finally made it up to the summit to find several other people there too. Ben and Bill were right behind me and we all were pretty happy to be up on top! Packs were taken off and High Fives went all around in a massive uproar of congratulations! It’s absolutely amazing up on top of Cloud’s Rest (9926ft.) Pictures and video do not do this place justice at all. Even a ranger I talked to said “I don’t even know why people go up to Half Dome as Cloud’s Rest is so awesome” You really have to see it with your own eyes. The view from on top is inspiring and you have an unobstructed 360 degree view of the Yosemite Valley.  CIMG5671 CIMG5673Bill had packed in some binoculars that we used to spy on the hikers on the cables of Half Dome. The hikers on the cables looked like a row of ants marching in a line up a small rock from this distance I thought to myself.  We broke out the food and drink and had our lunch up on top of the world (Ok, I know it’s not on top of the world but it seems like it ok!) We met some interesting people and had some great conversations. It’s funny, this is my second time to Yosemite and both times I realized that Yosemite is like a melting pot of culture and diversity. There are people from all over the world. Some come here to get away from the normal daily grind, some come to get lost and bewildered at the majesty of Yosemite but all come for one thing! To convene with Mother Nature on a level that many will never imagine. When you see it & experience it for yourself you will know what I’m talking about.

We stayed on top of Cloud’s Rest for about 1 ½ hours and decided to pack it up and head down past Pinnacle’s  down to little Yosemite to camp for the night. Backpacks packed back up? Check! Food put away (except for snacks in the pockets) Check! Boots tied tight? Check (no one’s breaking their ankles on my watch!). We hiked down the south face of Cloud’s Rest, around Pinnacles and then we were greeted by a number of tricky switchback steps that were very steep. They seem to go on forever and there are no guard rails to hold on to. (It would be weird to see if there were). “You need to be really careful here” I thought to myself as we made our way down. After about 30 minutes or so we made it back to a real trail and it was all downhill all the way to Little Yosemite. It’s about a 4 mile hike before we can camp but we are all hiking downhill and making great time. I tripped over a large rock in the middle of the trail. I saw the rock too but it was too late (it was almost like I was pulled to this rock in the trail and was made to trip over it). Bill was right behind me and watched as I fell forward but because I hike with poles he watched in amazement that I was able to catch myself and regain my balance. I turned around and said to Bill “see, that’s how you do that” and he replied simply “I thought you were going to eat shit for sure”. We both laughed about it and waited for Ben to catch up. He was right on our tails. Ben has a very pace mentality when it comes to hiking. He hikes at “his” speed and no one can change that. We were almost there (to camp) when we stumbled across some other hikers practicing there cabling techniques on some rope they had set up. They were going to Half Dome the next day just like us. About 15 minutes later we reached our camp at the trail junction. Bill found this site and it was a great site. There was plenty of room for all of our stuff and then some.

Night 3:

The site that Bill found was close enough to the water and the trail. We dropped off our packs and I set up my tent between 2 tall trees and lots of soft grass. I went down to the stream to pump water. I was there for a minute or so when another guy showed up and said hello. He was standing in the setting sun so I couldn’t see who he was. He sat down upstream from me and started pumping water also. I noticed that he was a Park Ranger. I made some small talk and he asked me some questions about where we were camped. He asked me if we were 100ft from the water and the trail. I said “I think so” he simply replied “cool…because I’m going to check”. I said “cool…let me know if we need to move”. He left and I continued pumping water for meals and drink. About 2 minutes later Bill comes by and says that the ranger needs to see our permits and Half Dome tickets. I finished up and started walking back to camp. I met up with Ben, Bill and the now 2 Park Rangers. He told me that mine and Ben’s tent were 5ft. shy of the mark. He didn’t make us move or anything. He was just doing his job. “What a cool job I thought, to be a park ranger in Yosemite” He did tell us that we needed to be real careful because this area was really populated with bears. In the rangers words “YOU WILL SEE A BEAR TONIGHT”! We all got really excited as seeing a bear in Yosemite would be awesome but none of REALLY wanted to see a bear. It’s kind of like a double edged sword.
Ben went down to the stream to pump some water and Bill and I just sat around the camp talking and gathering firewood for the night. Right behind Bill was a deer. He was a big male and had one broken antler. Bill turned around and we both got our cameras out to start taking pictures. This buck was not afraid of people and was not shy. He let us take as many pictures as we wanted. Then he walked around the back side of our camp and disappeared. We did manage to see many deer at this site but no bear’s. “Where are all the bears?” I thought. They were probably sitting still and watching us for a long time, waiting for us to make a mistake and leave some food out. We got our fire started as there was plenty of downed wood for us there to make a fire and keep one going through the night. We decided to camp here for 2 nights and day hike to Half Dome tomorrow morning. We made some dinner. Tonight I had Fettuccini Alfredo with salmon and some other snacks. This dish was awesome and I think it tasted better because I made it myself. Ben and I had a few shots of bourbon and whiskey after dinner and then Ben broke out the flute again and started playing. He didn’t see but I set up my camera on top of my bear canister and recorded a video of Ben playing with the campfire in the foreground. I joined in with my little drum and Bill then joined in with his harmonica. The sounds from our music sounded so good in the dense forest. The drum sounded especially awesome. It was echoing through the trees and it seemed the louder I played it the more awesome the sound. We stayed up a little while longer and had some more food and then all of us went to our separate tents for the night and went to bed….Tomorrow is Half Dome!

Day 4:

We all woke up early today. Me especially because I had to use the facilities really badly. Backpacking food always does that to me. Ben and Bill got up shortly after I did and we all say around the camp making breakfast and talking about Half Dome. This was my second time going to Half Dome, Ben’s 3rd and Bill’s 1st. After breakfast we got our daypacks ready for our journey. I went down to the stream to fill my camelback and an extra bottle of water. Last time I went to Half Dome I ran out of water on the way back and didn’t want to make the same mistake twice. I didn’t mind the extra weight. I packed up some food for lunch and snack and my water filter (just in case) a ¾ zip midlayer from Salomon and my North Face soft shell jacket in case it got cold. Ben and Bill got their daypacks all ready with food and water. Our plan was to day hike to the summit of Half Dome, have lunch and make it back by dinner time.

We left our site and gear behind and started out on the trail. I thought to myself “it feels so much better with a daypack on than a full pack”. We only had about 2 ½ miles to Half Dome and after about 30 minutes of our hike in we could see the dome in the distance. It seems like it’s so close. I started remembering the trail as it was only 2 years ago that we were here last time and did Half Dome over a weekend. Our trail came to the entrance to the summit and there was a park ranger there checking everyone’s permits. You have to have a special permit to climb Half Dome now (since 2010). When we were here 2 years ago I remember the cables were really busy (about 100 people on the cables at the same time). The ranger told us that they were averaging about 1400 hikers a day on the dome in 2009 and since the permit system there are only about 400 daily. 450 is the max per day that they will allow up there. We gave our permits to the ranger and he told us to be careful and let him know what we thought after we got back down. Here is where the stairs begin to get to the saddle. The stairs are cut out of the granite on the side of the mountain. The steps switchback for a while back and forth across the granite with the view getting better with each and every step. You need to be careful if there are a lot of people going up and down because there are spots where it gets really narrow and if you have to shimmy past people on a steep and rocky uphill staircase it can get a little hairy.

We finally got away from the steps and began to just climb on granite slabs till we reached the saddle. I was up 1st and Ben and Bill were right behind me. Here we can see the cables clearly and know what lies ahead. I had made some belts for Ben and me with carabineers for an added safety measure when climbing the cables. I didn’t use that the last time I was here but when I climbed Half Dome the 1st time I saw people using them and I said the next time I come here I am doing that.

On the way over to the saddle I past a young guy who had some climbing gear with him and I asked him if he was doing much climbing today. He replied “yeah, I just climbed up the face” The face? What face? The face of Half Dome? No way!!! He said yeah and we shook hands and we went our separate ways. When you get to the start of the cables there are some gloves there for you to use. I brought my own gloves last time but this time I didn’t. I said that I would just use a pair of gloves there instead of hiking in my own pair. I found a pair of gloves that not only fit perfectly but had a lot of sticky rubber on the fingers and palms. This is what you want for the cables as they get really steep. The cables are metal and are about as thick as your thumb. The cables are about arm’s length from each other and there is a 2x4 spaced out about every 12 ft. It’s a good thing for those 2x4’s as they are nice to rest on when someone is either trying to pass you on the way down or if you just need a rest. Ben went up 1st then me and Bill right after.

It was so nice to be on the cables again and especially since the new permit system was in place because there was hardly anyone there. The cable climb at Half Dome gets really steep in some sections and it almost feels like you’re going 100% vertical but you’re not…It just seems like it. Word to the wise as the cables are a very popular place some spots on this granite is very slippery so be careful and take your time. Too many people die from being dumb or panicking on the cables and then they make a mistake and fall/slip. We made it up to the top and the cables are lying on the granite at this point and not suspended any more. High 5’s were all going around and the sheer excitement and congrats were going around. As we got to the very top I noticed a guy talking on his cell phone. I thought to myself “really? Don’t be that guy”. I had my cell phone with me but I had it in airplane mode the whole time to conserve battery. I was mainly using it for the gps. Yes…there’s an app for that. The app I used for my android phone was call Maprika. If you have a smartphone and are a hiker than this is the app for you.  You simply just download the topo maps you’re looking for and then when you open the app. The display shows a flashing blue dot on your topo map of exactly where you are. I did take my phone out of airplane mode for a minute to see if I had a signal. Hey, this guy had a signal maybe I do too. Sure enough I had 2 bars. I dialed my wife’s phone and it started to ring. “Am I really using my cell phone on the top of Half Dome” I thought to myself. It rang and then as clear as can be my wife answered the phone with a faint “helllllooooo”? I said hello and told her that all was ok. She was worried that I was calling because someone got hurt. She as well as I had no idea that the cell phone would work out there.  We exchanged “I love you’s” and hung up the phone. We went over to the part that’s called the “Diving Board” to take some pictures. I wanted to get a picture of me sitting on the diving board and one of me facing the camera and one of me facing the valley the last time I was here so Bill took my pictures and then we traded spots for Bill’s turn. Ben decided to go off on his own and explore the other side of the dome. The top is way bigger that you think and there is a lot to see. Bill and I started talking to one hiker and he told us that just about an hour ago there was a climber who broke the world record for the fastest face climb of Half Dome. It was the guy I met on the saddle. He was so humble that he didn’t even mention it to me. How cool that you don’t need to brag about something like that. Apparently he works for The North Face and was in National Geographic a few months prior.

We had some lunch up on the summit of Half Dome overlooking Cloud’s Rest where we were the day before. We made some friends with some local wildlife. We saw a small chipmunk, a precocious squirrel and a fat ole marmot. After a while Bill and I went to go look for Ben. He was on the other side of the dome. We went over there and on the way we noticed several rock piles and designs that hikers had made. Ben had made a rock/stick figure family. I was inspired by this and decided to spell out the names of my daughter and son. My hope is that one day I will take my kids there and show them their names spelled in granite pieces (if they are still there).

We spend a good amount of time up on top and I was able to do a gear review on my Salomon ¾ zip midlayer that I was sent to test out for www.trailandmountain.com. The review came out great! Thanks Bill for being my cameraman. I was also testing out a pair of Go Lite Surge Lite fastpacker boots and a Go Lite Terrono 90 internal frame backpack. We had some more food and snack and decided to go back down to camp as it was starting to get late and we still had another 2 ½ miles to go before we were back to our campsite. Going back down the cables for me was freakier but the best way I have found to make it easier was to go back down the cables the same way I came up. When you go down backwards you have a better footing and better balance. We all made it back down to the saddle and started our decent back down the steps and back to our camp for the night. We made it back to where the ranger was and he was asking people that were still going up if they had any lights. We passed an older couple on the way down. They were on the way up to the top and Ben asked them if they had a flashlight. They said no so Ben gave them his headlight. They thanked him and we went on our way.

We made it back to our camp just in time to get down to the stream to pump some more water and wash up before the sun went down.

Night 4:

We sat around the campsite talking about our next day of hiking. We decided to hike to Sunrise High Sierra Camp. We had about 6 ½ miles to hike to get to the camp and it wasn’t going to be easy. That would be our best path because of where we parked the truck. It would make things a lot easier so we didn’t have to get a shuttle bus back to the truck. Our campsite had some visitors this night. We had some hikers that showed up at our site from Colorado and had taken a bus to Yosemite. They were planning on backpacking for a few nights and were really cool. I love meeting people on the trail. Finding out where people come from and their backgrounds is completely fascinating to me. We have met people from all over the world on this trip. We met people from Australia, France, Italy, Japan, England and several places all over the USA.

We made some dinner and set up a clothes line to dry some of our clothes by the fire. We had a nice fire this night as we did the other nights. It was late in the season and thinking back on our trip, I didn’t think that there would be as much downed wood as there was. We had an abundance of firewood every night. We turned in for a good night’s rest. I knew that tomorrow’s hike was going to be tough as the map showed a long section of switchbacks and a lot of elevation gain.

 

Day 5:

We woke up early this morning and I made a run to use the facilities. I had some quiet time this morning and sat outside my tent and meditated for a little while just listening to the sounds of nature. It was very nice and relaxing to just sit and be still and focus on the present time. After a while Ben and Bill woke and got up. I wanted to make a nice breakfast and I was getting hungry. I made some instant oatmeal and added a bunch or raisins and blueberry granola. This is a great breakfast for someone who wants a fast meal and a lot of carbs. We pumped a bunch of water and I had filled an extra water bottle as I knew I would be losing a lot of fluids. The sun was out early and it was starting to warm up. We broke our camp and made sure the fire was out. We packed up our packs and made sure we left “NO TRACE”.

We began our journey to Sunrise High Sierra Camp on the John Muir Trail. We were on the trail about 9 a.m. and hiking at a pretty good pace till the trail started going upward and it got a lot harder. Our elevation was also getting higher so we were huffing and puffing a lot more. We decided to make a stop and have some lunch about the halfway mark. Our packs were getting a lot lighter on the last day or so it seemed. Before we finished our lunch we had some through hikers pass us going the way we came from and one of them stopped and took his camera out and started taking some pictures of a coyote that was meandering around our lunch spot. Very curious these creatures are as the coyote seemed to almost stop and pose for some pictures. It was and is always nice to see wild animals in their own habitat. It makes the adventure so much better to me to see these kinds of trail surprises.

Our hike continued after our lunch break and after battling a biblical swarm of mosquitoes (ok, it wasn’t that bad). We finally made it to the beginning of the switchbacks and in the middle of the day it was blazing hot (about 82 degrees).  It took us about 1-2 hours just on the switchbacks to make it to the top. Before we reached the top I had made some distance between Ben and Bill and decided to take a break and drop my pack and refill on some of my water. I also wanted to drink and rehydrate myself as I was getting weary. The water tasted so good and was nice and cold. I took off my hat and dunked it in the stream and put it on my head to lower my body temp too and it felt great. It’s a must when you’re hot! Ben and Bill caught up to me and we all just hung out for a few minutes to catch our breath and take a moment.

“Packs back on guys” I yelled as I wanted to get to the camp already. We finally made it to the top of the pass which seemed like it took forever. The guys and I were tired and we found a great but small campsite right off the trail with a fire ring already to go. It was close to the stream so water would not be an issue. We dropped our packs and I felt that there was a better place just around the corner so I decided to hike ahead and see what I could find. I only hiked about 6 minutes before I came across a huge flat meadow with mountain views in the distance and what seemed like a building on the distance. I stopped for a minute to take it all in as it was absolutely beautiful and immediately turned around to get the guys. I ran back to the camp like an excited child and found Ben and Bill relaxing. I told them to put their packs back on and follow me to this meadow. I wasn’t sure if it was Sunrise High Sierra Camp but there was nothing else around on the map so it had to be. Ben and Bill were questioning me as to see if the meadow was as nice as I mentioned and I said “if you don’t like it we will just come back and camp here!” We hiked through the meadow and found the building that I saw. It was the main tent at Sunrise High Sierra Camp. We had finally made it. Ben had asked one of the people working there where the backpacker’s campground was and told us to hurry as the sites fill up quick so once again we got our packs on to make the final stretch to our site. We found a few places and picked one that overlooked the meadow. This place has everything I thought. We had a bathroom, clean drinking water from a fountain and a water spigot. We set up our tents. I decided to not use my rainfly this night as the sky was crystal clear. The temperature was supposed to drop to 30 degrees this night. We got a fire started and made some dinner which was awesome. The temperature was already dropping so I changed into my thermals and polar fleece hat. I was totally warm with just a soft shell jacket and my thermals. I was only wearing my Vibram Five Finger shoes too as I didn’t want to wear my boots and I wasn’t cold at all.

We had a great fire this last night and it was a very hot fire. We stayed up kinda late and talked about how great this trip was and how awesome it had been to spend the time in Yosemite. I was starting to get tired about 9:30 and decided to turn in for the night. I got into my tent and layed on my back and looked up and the night sky. The stars were amazing and in my sleeping bag I was warm as could be even though it was freezing out. I slept better this night than any other night. Maybe it was the cold or maybe I was just so relaxed or tired from the hike this day but either way I slept like the dead.

I wanted to get up early and check out the sunrise. This is of course Sunrise High Sierra Camp! The sunrises here must be spectacular I thought. Boy was I right! I woke up early and opened the door to my tent to check out the sunrise. It was magnificent! Clearly one of the best sunrises I have ever witnessed.

Ben had hiked down to the meadow to get some pictures and Bill was just getting up. I decided to make some breakfast and relax for a little while before breaking our camp to hike out. We only had about 5 miles to hike to get to Ben’s truck. Our hike out was going to be about 75% downhill too. I went down to the water spigot to refill my camelback and water bottles. Ben and Bill did the same so we wouldn’t have to worry about it before we left our last camp. What an amazing trip I kept thinking to myself as Yosemite is such a special place. This is by far my most favorite place to backpack as the scenery is breathtaking and the trail conditions are pristine. Yosemite is meticulously maintained like a golf course.

After our breakfast and breaking up our campsite we said our goodbyes to yet another great campsite. For those who haven’t camped here this place is an amazing place with great resources and fantastic views. We made sure the fire was out and got our packs on for the final stretch to the truck. The trail went right through the campground and was super easy to navigate.

We had a nice uphill battle with the trail for a little while and won! Then our trail mellowed out to a nice flat and up and down section. We hiked along and came up to the first of 3 lakes (The Sunrise Lakes). The first one if majestic and has a large flat grassy area surrounding it with nice mountain views. I almost stripped off all of my clothes and ran across the meadow to jump in the lake but I decided not to this time. The second lake was kind of hard to see but it looked like if you bushwhacked a little bit it would be a great lake to camp on. The 3rd and final lake was really close to the trail and was beautiful. We stopped here for some pictures and to take it all in. We continued our hike and I think all of us were pretty motivated to make it back so we could get home. We made it to the trail junction for the Sunrise lakes trail. This was our halfway point as this junction is only about 2.5 miles from the parking lot. It’s all downhill from here I thought from what I remembered of our hike in. Still a tough hike as the stairs cut out of the granite were tough on the knees and feet. We hiked all the way down to the bottom and hiked out to the truck. We made it! NO one got hurt or injured! This was an amazing hike filled with great people, scenery, weather and memories to last a lifetime. Thank you Ben and Bill for joining me on this epic journey! Yosemite was great but the company was better!

Please enjoy the pictures!