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Re: Recent Yosemite trip

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avatar Recent Yosemite trip
July 25, 2009 09:06AM
My recent trip to Yosemite and reintroduction to backpacking after some 25 years had mixed results but the trip was still defintely worth it.

The first day, 7/12, was a delightful day hike to Sunrise Lakes. These are some of the most beautiful small lakes I've ever seen, particularly the outlet end of the second lake. Did not want to leave.

7/13 was an overnighter to Young Lakes and my first experience carrying a 40-lb pack over 10,000'. I managed to get as far as the small waterfall between the 2nd and 3rd lakes before turning back. Mosquitos were thick enough even in mid day to stick to original plan of hiking back to the trail junction west of Ragged Peak and then on down to just outside the no camping zone on a promontory at 9,700' west of the trail. This turned out to be a great camp site that did not appear to see much use or none that I could detect. I hit the sack at 8:30 as soon as the sun set and soon began getting frustrated that I could not move my aching legs around much in the mummy bag. Shortly after that the walls of my small Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight tent began closing in on me and I was hit by an overwhelming panic attack of claustrofobia which fired me out of that tent like a shotgun! This is embarrasing to admit but I've got to be honest. Believe me, it came as a total surprise. This cycle repeated itself a couple more times in total darkness and once more after the Moon was up. Each time I extracted myself from the tent I spent a considerable amount of time wandering around that promontory clearing my head and enjoying the night sky. The last time I entered the tent was 2AM at which time I left the skeeter screen all the way open so I could alternately open and close my eyes when needed to assure the stars were still there instead of just tent fabric. I woke up at 4:30 to early morning twilight, called it a night, and made breakfast.

The plan for 7/14 was to go on to Glen Aulin, camp beyond McGee Lake, and exit to 120 via May Lake. Due to extreme pain in my legs plus blisters on the back of both heels (something new in boots I've worn for 9 months), I decided that my age, a 40-lb pack, claustrophobia, altitude, and planned hiking miles were a bit much to continue backpacking. I exited to TM and began driving to Lee Vining for a motel room. A half mile past the Tuolumne Lodge/Trail Permit exit a deer I never saw coming apparently launched itself airborne off the left hand embankment and landed in the driver's side of my rental car stoving in the door and ripping off the side view mirror. Instead of resting my tired body and tending to my feet I spent an hour on the phone plus a 270 mile round trip to Reno to replace the rental car. Should have gone to Glen Aulin!

On 7/15 I cancelled my permit for the Cathedral-to-Lyell Canyon backpacking trip and devoted my remaining time to day hikes. In succession I did Cathedral Lakes, a day off to Mammoth Mountain and June Lake, Glen Aulin, and North Dome. I still wanted to do May Lake and Elizabeth Lake but at that point my feet were such a mess it was necessary to call it quits to avoid getting blisters infected. The Cathedral Lake trip was delightful because a stiff breeze kept away bugs and I circled the lake to check out the waterfall outlet end. Glen Aulin was great despite the 11.6 miles round trip. North Dome/Indian Rock was worth it but essentially all uphill on the way back. I managed to drop my digital camera on North Dome. As it careened down the slope with me in pursuit the thought obviously crossed my mind, "How far do I pursue this camera if it does not stop bouncing?" As I anticipated the long drop to the valley floor the camera finally stopped and proved to be still in full working order with scratches on every corner. Never a dull moment on this trip.

Some of you may get a chuckle out of all this and that's O.K. It just goes to show that a man in his 60's with no backpacking experience in 25 years who lives at 300' elevation may not not be equiped to handle the rigors of Yosemite day in and day out no matter how willing the mind. It's too bad I don't live out there where I could take small bites of Yosemite at a time to build up my stamina for the altitude and miles. In any event, I still greatly enjoyed the experience to my best ability and would not trade it for anything.

Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2009 09:08AM by tomdisco.
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 25, 2009 09:55AM
To quote the famous lines of Robert Burns:
"The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men
Gang aft agley
"

[For the entire poem: http://www.freemedialibrary.com/index.php/To_a_Mouse. By the way, the 1939 film version of Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" was aired on Turner Classic Movies a few nights ago - perhaps an appropriate topping to your trip if you saw it.]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/25/2009 10:19AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 12:22AM
Don't worry, Jim, here's a teaser: my "day" hike did not finish up until 10:00pm tonight. The combination of the late exit and my cell phone battery dying a slow death was enough to have my neighbor waiting outside at Midnight...more to come. Oh, yeah, new boots and blisters play a role in this story/fiasco, too!

Busy Bee
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 03:11AM
Quote
Bee
new boots and blisters

Didn't anyone tell you about that?
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 05:00AM
It's the same story as Jim: I had been wearing them to work and local hikes, but what you don't get in the local stuff is the extreme angle of climbing -- that's where the REAL test is. Everytime I took a step 1000ft out of the lake basin, another layer of skin was rubbing off.
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 08:36AM
Bee just nailed the problem. It's mostly the rough trail conditions.

I bought the Osolo Powermatic 100's last September and have been doing local hikes in NC ever since then. The Osolo's are an excellent boot, very comfortable, and require little breaking in. On one or two particularly long local hikes I noticed a couple hot spots but examination after the hikes showed nothing.

In Yosemite or most any high Sierra hiking the trail surfaces are much rougher and vary dramatically from cobblestone obstacle course, bare granite, bare flat soil, to deep grinding sand and require constant twisting and varying impact on each footfall. Add the weight of a pack and you have a formula for blisters that sneak up on you even with use of moleskin, which I started using after the first day hike to Sunrise Lakes (might have been one day too late).

I could live with blisters for awhile but the risk of serious infection is high if you try to ignore them day after day.

Jim
Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 09:05PM
I had a similar re-entry (though I'm not sixty yet, there were still about fifteen years of couch-potatoing involved) to backpacking, and I had almost the same response to being in a tent. It led me to hammocks and tarps. I've been hanging all over Yosemite and surrounding areas ever since.

The Yosemite trail system is definitely murder on the soles. My least-favorite are the steps and switchbacks of the Mist Trail on a late spring afternoon - I find it perpetually mind boggling that people do that trail in worn tenny runners, flipflops, and high heels (yes, I've seem them, she didn't get all the way to the top).

I am an assistant organizer of a local (Fresno) hiking group and we frequently go to Yosemite - you do better than some. smiling smiley I find that people who are new to hiking have very creative ways of getting hurt. I try to keep them on frontcountry trails and save Donahue Pass for seasoned backpackers.
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 26, 2009 09:37PM
Quote
AlmostThere
The Yosemite trail system is definitely murder on the soles. My least-favorite are the steps and switchbacks of the Mist Trail on a late spring afternoon - I find it perpetually mind boggling that people do that trail in worn tenny runners, flipflops, and high heels (yes, I've seem them, she didn't get all the way to the top).

Back in Dec 2005 I tried going up the Upper Yosemite Fall Trail. I didn't actually make it up to the top, and I was probably poorly equipped for the conditions. I had waterproof breathable gear, but wore cotton (t-shirt and jeans) underneath. I also had Gore-Tex trail runners. I was feeling clammy although it was unseasonably warm (about high 50s F) and it started raining.

I saw a family of three. The dad went up wearing leather soled dress shoes. The rain coupled with the slick granite must have been great for those leather soled shoes.
avatar Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 27, 2009 07:15AM
Almost There,

I'm glad I'm not the only one who ran into this weird clastrophobia problem in small tents. I tent occasionally in a large family tent at astronomy star parties with no problem. This episode at Yosemite really came at me out of left field. About a year and a half ago I began experiencing such anxiety attacks right here at home. My doctor prescribed a generic version of Xanax but I only used about 6 of them and had not had any attacks for almost a year. I never gave any thought to bringing them with me because the issue had seemingly gone away. Should have brought some.

What an unwanted surprise at Yosemite. It's a good thing nobody else was with me. Not only would I have kept them awake, they would have been treated with a stream of invective every time I came out of that tent. I had been looking forward to this trip for a year and just could not beleive what was happening to me. The added tease prior to moonrise was that as an amateur astronomer I was hosted by the darkest sky I've ever witnessed with no telescope.

Again, I envy all those of you who can take weekend bites of Yosemite.

Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/27/2009 07:17AM by tomdisco.
Re: Recent Yosemite trip
July 27, 2009 12:48PM
Wow...what a trip! Kudos to you for being able to enjoy what you did enjoy. And as far as those backpacking tents are concerned...I saw how miniscule those babies are at our local REI a few weeks ago. I already know my limit