Monday, July 1, 2013

A Vacation among the Sierras

Last week, Emily, Matt and I returned to Yosemite.  We started our trip at Tuolumne Meadows (elevation 8700 feet).

 Here is a picture of Em's and my tent at our first campsite.  It rained from the first night through the third day.  We spent the afternoon of the second day huddling in this tent, after trying to get up Rafferty Peak.  We didn't make it up Rafferty Peak because it started snowing and I felt weird. 

Note the bear can in the foreground, pictured with the four essentials: water, fuel, cooking pot, and deoderant.

 On the third day the sky began to clear, and we left our little campsite below Rafferty Peak.  Here we are somewhere near Vogelsang High Sierra Camp.  The High Sierra Camps have mules bring in food for people who want the backpacking experience without carrying stuff.  I'm going to stay at one in a couple of weeks with my mother. 
Here are Emily and me taking a break on some rocks.  Yosemite has a lot of rocks.  It is a geologically interesting place.

Emily is drinking water here.  Hydration is very important.

Look at the little patch of blue in the sky!
 This is when my stomach was feeling weird.  At 10000 feet, the stomach is a delicate organ. 

Between orange shovel breaks, I played the alphabet game.  Does anyone know a fruit that starts with the letter "I"?  The best I could think of was ice cream.

Matt used my mother's old little blue tent on this trip.  I love this tent very much.  I feel like it should belong to a grizzled mountain man from the 70s. 

Unfortunately, it leaks during periods of persistent rain.

It may be time to let the little blue tent go.  

The sky clears.  Note the flag.  We got about 300 points on this trip.  About half of them were from historical markers on the way back home.  I think the game's priorities are a bit off.

 This is a picture of Parsons Peak, before we climbed it.  It is taken from approximately the location of our campsite. 

Parsons Peak is the tall one.

This campsite was beautiful, but we had to sleep on rather slanted ground because there weren't a lot of options because there weren't a lot of trees, and there was a lot of wind.

 Before we climbed Parsons Peak, we had to eat breakfast!  Here is Matt in our kitchen.  He is boiling water. 

For breakfast, Matt and Emily ate oatmeal, and I ate honey bunches of oats and hot chocolate.  Honey bunches of oats are less distressing for my stomach than oatmeal. Hot chocolate is less distressing than coffee.  It is good to think about these things.

After feeding, we headed up the hill.
 We walked down the trail to Ireland Lake and picked out way around the lake. Here Emily crosses a very blue stream that fed into the lake. 

Nobody fell into any streams or lakes except when they wanted to.

Once we were far enough around the lake, we started to scramble up some rocks towards a gully.
 Here I am taking a water break a bit above beautiful Ireland Lake.  Parsons Peak slopes up and to the left.  The peak itself is outside the frame of the picture. 

See how blue the sky is!  It was wonderful to be warm again.  We were careful to cultivate a protective layer of sunscreen and DEET.  Nobody got sunburned very much. 

We continued up the gully.  There was snow and rocks and water.  We crossed it all like the pioneers of old, or like John Muir himself.

We ascended to the saddle below the peak.  Here we turned to our right and started scrambling up small talus.  Below right is a picture Matt took very close to the side of the mountain that was a cliff.  That is me climbing below.  We were able to use our feet and poles most of the way up.  Near the top I was more comfortable holding on to the mountain with my hands. 

This part was a little bit scary for me because I get scared easily.

Below left is another picture of the way up.  I am not standing in a hole.  It is just that steep.
But we made it to the top.

 We found the summit register and signed it.  We were the fourth, fifth, and sixth people to sign in in 2013.  I think there were between 12 and 20 people up there last year.  Matt remembers the number probably. 

I ate half of my Butterfingers bar, and we took some pictures.

See Half Dome in the background?  We are 3200 feet above the top of Half Dome.  We are approximately 8000 feet above Yosemite Valley. 

Parsons Peak is 12147 feet above sea level. That is the highest we got on this trip, and the highest I have been in my life outside of airplanes.

 We scrambled back down the way we had come.  The day was hot.  Matt and I took a brief dip in Ireland Lake which was very cold.  We then walked back to our campsite and moved it about 3 miles to a mosquito-infested slope that seemed to be prime bear habitat, based on the torn apart rotting logs, large rocks for hiding behind, and large non-human poops we saw. 

We camped there anyway.  We stored our food properly as always, and saw no bears here or anywhere else.  (Emily and I did hear some coyotes howling on the last night.)

 We made an attempt on Amelia Earhart Peak the next day.  Here you see me eating the rest of my Butterfingers inside of my awesome bug net.  Amelia Earhart freaked me out a bit and we didn't go all the way to the peak.  We did walk along the ridge for a ways.

Whatever, Amelia.  Parsons is taller anyway.

We scramble back down, packed up camp, and scooted down the trail.  We joined up with the Pacific Crest/John Muir Trail, and walked through Lyell Canyon, which was beautiful and green. 

We set up camp at the last place we could before entering the 4-miles-from-Tuolomne-Meadows no-camp zone.  We named our campsite Marmot Slabs, because we saw so many marmots sitting on the granite slabs where we camped.

We were below 9500 feet and found an established fire ring, so we were able to make a campfire that night with dead and downed wood. 

We were also right next to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne, which was a beautiful place to fill up our water bottles and cool our feet.

The trail is also relatively flat here.  If I am ever in the Tuolumne Meadows area looking for an easy day hike, I would possibly go here, because it really is beautiful.

That was our last night on the trail.  The next day we hiked out 4 or 5 miles to the trailhead.

But we still had most of the day and one more adventure: Mammoth.

We drove to the Mono Pass Trailhead, ditched our camping gear. and walked 2.8 miles past an awesome abandoned miner's cabin to a junction, where we set of cross country for 2ish as-the-crow-flies miles to Mammoth Peak, which is Adventure # 212 and 15 points (equal to 3 historical landmarks!). 

I enjoyed this mountain rather more than Parsons because the talus was larger, which felt stabler to me.  It probably would have been easier to break a limb on though.  I'm glad we did it, but it's not the sort of thing I would send internet strangers up in a social media scavenger hunt game.

 Here we are at the summit.  The weather was turning threatening, so we trotted down the hill, drove back to the backpackers' campground at Tuolumne Meadows to set up camp, drove down the hill to Mono Lake for burgers at Bodie Mike's, drove back to the park, slept soundly, and drove home the next day and got lots of historical markers.

The end.

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