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Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup

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Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 05, 2013 03:57PM
I posted here early in July looking for advice, so I figured I would do a trip recap and let folks know how it went.

My girlfriend and I drove up from the Bay Area to Yosemite on Sunday, July 28, planning to stay until Thursday August 1. We stopped by the main entrance wilderness station, figuring we would just go with whatever was available, within the basic guidelines people here had suggested and we felt up to. We got there around 2pm, mentioned the possibility of Happy Isles-LYV-Half Dome and on to Cathedral. Turns out there were still two permits available for a Monday start so we grabbed those! Plenty of Half Dome permits left for backpackers, so we had our plan within minutes of walking in. The ranger was awesome. We got our bear canister, some more advice, and headed into the Valley.

Karla is an avid crushed-penny collector, so we scoured the Valley for the various locations she had heard there were penny machines. Housekeeping (none), Curry Village, the main center, Yosemite Lodge. We were amazed at how many people were all around. It was definitely busier than I had imagined. We only got a little time to really enjoy the valley, and figured we wouldn't spend time on any hikes that day. Would have been nice to do Glacier Point (by foot or car), but we were suddenly short of time and still had lots of backpacking prep work to do.

We headed north to Tuolumne, arriving about an hour before dark. We set up in the post office/grill parking lot to get packs ready. About then, my body really started shutting down. I had started getting sick (throat, congestion) in San Fran and the long drive/altitude (sea level in SF to almost 9000 feet at Tuolumne that night!) may have compounded things (?). We got packs totally ready, drove in and dropped packs in the Backpacker's campground, I stayed to set up camp (in the dark) while Karla took the car to the Cathedral exit and jogged back to Tuolumne (she's a trooper!). When she got back, my body was in full shut down, unable to do much besides crawl into bed. I didn't eat that night and she only snacked. That kicked off our problem of having too much food!

We woke up on Monday with plenty of time to spare. She ate some breakfast, I didn't eat again (listening to my body), and we packed up to catch the YARTS bus at 10:15. Back in the Valley, we hopped on the shuttle to Happy Isles and were off. Got started around 12:30, up the Mist trail, the steps of Vernal, and then the switchbacks to JMT and the top of Nevada (didn't to the steps to Nevada). I was able to drink water, but still felt a bit queasy at times after breaks and such. My knee had been acting funny a few weeks before but the steps were no problem (whew!). We enjoyed the scenes along the way, but motored on the LYV. We got there around 4, set up camp, and I passed out for a bit. Fortunately, I was able to eat dinner and things started getting a little better (in terms of eating) from there.

Tuesday- up at a normal time, breakfast, packed things up and headed up the JMT. We left our packs at the base of the Half Dome trail (somewhat nervously) and did that with just water/snacks/camera. Half Dome was awesome! Nothing really prepares you for the ascent or the view. We didn't think about gloves, but someone pointed out the pile of communal gloves, thank goodness. Up and down the cables was one of the trip highlights, for sure. We got back to our packs, took a snack break, and headed up the JMT again. We stopped somewhere along Sunrise Creek, south of the "big hill" (where it turns north and goes up 1000 feet pretty fast!).

Wednesday- up, breakfast, out. The "big hill" was a pain, but we motored on through. Hill climbs sorta fit our joint-personality of push-push-push. We loved this day of the hike- Sunrise Meadow was the first meadow to see at it's stunning to be hiking the mountains and suddenly be looking at a huge field. (We had seen Tuolumne Meadows but didn't really appreciate it at the time) We stopped for lunch on the north side of the meadow (and may have lost a nice SwissArmy Knife there- sadness). Onward to Cathedral Lakes. We followed a pair we had been hiking with, and may have ended up camping "illegally" (which we didn't realize until the following morning's hike out). We camped on the south side of the eastern Cathedral Lake, sortof near the rocks jutting out into the lake. We camped on the gravelly rocks near trees, not on grass (which others there said was the rule). We love that lake! Definitely the most scenic of our campsites and we sat out on the rocks a bit, climbed the hill towards the other Cathedral Lake and sat up top looking down (that's a beautiful view from there- watched a group hike in, some people swimming, etc). Also the best site we had for looking at stars, although the cold prevented too much of that. This was the night I finally got sick for real, with throat/congestion taking over.

Thursday- up and out early, on the trail by 7am. Quick 4 mile hike out and the car was waiting for us! Assorted cleanup, bear can return, postcard mailing, and we were off to the next part of our journey (Tahoe, then a wedding 2 hours further north in the Sierras).

Overall- amazing trip. We may not have seen all of the iconic points and major attractions (other than Mist Trail and Half Dome), but we loved getting right out in the woods. The crowds in the Valley were a major turnoff for us. I wish we could have seen Glacier Point and Mariposa, but maybe we can get those on a future trip. We're still amazed at our luck getting the Happy-LYV permits. The first two days of hiking were definitely taxing- we hadn't backpacked in a long time (her ever really), my body was crazy, the altitude was new, etc. We were hitting our stride by the third and fourth days, but were also glad to be heading out. I think we over-carried water through most of the park. We weren't very good at estimating water needs or actual locations.

Thanks to everyone who gave advice, and particularly to OL for the advice on Happy to Tuolumne! I hope we can get back again. We definitely plan to do more frequent trips in Tennessee ("home" ) and maybe do longer stuff next time to Yosemite!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/05/2013 07:03PM by NakedT.
avatar Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 05, 2013 04:15PM
I over carried water also. My wife CONSTANTLY drinks water when not hiking. Her biggest worry was that she would run out. She never had less than 2 liters, except for the last mile or sow coming back from half dome. We were there in a high snow year so there were plenty of small streams. I thought 5 liters of water would be more than enough for the two of us from LYV to half dome and back. Ran out about 30 minutes before getting back to LYV and I didn't bring the water filter. Not a big deal, but I take the water filter on day hikes now. smiling smiley
avatar Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 05, 2013 04:56PM
Bowing to his greatness

And kudos for hiking UP to Tuolumne.

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 05, 2013 08:33PM
Thanks for the report. Way to deal with the sickness and just keep going.

Yeah the crowds can suck, but if you want to see the valley highlights, go in March or October. Or winter. Way less people.

Anyway, it sounds like you had a good time. Congrats for pulling it off.
avatar Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 05, 2013 09:22PM
Sounds like you were affected by altitude sickness in the first day and after. I've had very similar symptoms going from home (at sea level) to Glacier Point in one day - was ok at GP at first, then no appetite, just wanted to go to bed. I have felt lots better after making sure to get some food into me, even when I felt like not wanting to eat at all.

Check in with your doc about it. After two trips to GP in early 1990's with similar results, I started (with doctor's prescription) taking Acetazolamide ("Diamox" - start two or three days before reaching altitude), and have done well, with multiple trips over 9,000', 4 trips to 14,000'+, and even a week from 10,000' to 19,340' (Kilimanjaro).
avatar Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 06, 2013 06:59AM
Sounds like you had a good time despite the initial issues.

Not sure about the altitude thing, loss of appetite is a mild AMS symptom, but you said you weren't feeling well leaving SFO, and it sounds like the issues continued in Yosemite Valley. May just ask a doctor about it and give him/her the timeline.
Re: Yosemite rookie's trip review/writeup
August 06, 2013 11:52AM
Thanks for the shoutout.... glad you had a good time! You were more ambitious than the original suggestion; (Cathedral Lakes instead of Sunrise Lakes) but from your thoughts on Long Meadow (the meadow between Sunrise HSC and Cathedral) and Cathedral Lakes it seems to have been worth it! Sorry to hear about about your altitude troubles; you definitely had signs of AMS and I was glad to read that you made it out safely. Hope your girlfriend enjoyed herself and will let you plan a return trip!
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