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Monday, August 8, 2011

Backpacking in Yosemite 2011

Yosemite as seen from behind the lens of my HTC Inspire, Android, GPS enabled, handheld computer camera - which even has an operational phone feature which works well enough - when I can get my daughter to stop playing Angry Birds long enough for me to answer the calls. Having not replaced the latest of a long line of camera casualties, I chose to record this backpacking trip with my cell phone.

This year's trip through Yosemite followed a loop from Wawona, up to the top of Chilnualna Falls, north east to Buena Vista Peak, and then back around to the west exiting the wilderness where we had entered.

Group 1 (Brent, Tim, Zach, Matt, and Jeremy) entered the wilderness on Tuesday late morning. Dave and I followed them 24 hours later.

The view from the bridge crossing Chilnualna Creek - Wawona Campround - Yosemite

Dave and I hit the trail to catch up to our friends. We arrived 1 day later than them and had a 15 mile, 3,500' climb in which to catch up to them for their second night's campsite. It was surprisingly warm. I had lost the shirt before we even left the parking lot. I had packed for cold weather and with the temps in the 70's at 10:00 am and 5,000' I was concerned that the extra weight was a waste.

I was not to be disappointed though. By 8,000' we were traversing patches of snow, and before the week was out, the nighttime lows would be in the high 20's.

Tim proved to be a great asset to the team, and at 16 years old, is more familiar with navigating Yosemite than many of the locals. He also makes great August snowmen.

We were legitimately concerned that we would be navigating by "blaze", map, and compass if the snows were covering too much of the trail. Though many sections of trail were obscured, none initiated more than a few moments of indecision.

One of the many views we would have of Chilnualna Creek and Falls.

Strangely this was among the wildest of the wildlife we encountered over the 4 days. There was a marmot sighting, a few deer sightings, and the ubiquitous black squirrels, lizards and birds, but the presence of a species presenting real physical danger was limited to the ones wearing backpacks.

"Hey guys, look over here!"
Royal Arches Lake - camped on exposed granite attempting to escape the starving mosquitoes.
They found us anyway. Night 1 for Dave and I.

The view from the top of Buena Vista Peak, looking down on Buena Vista Lake with our second campsite near the middle of the far side of the lake.

The technical and most enjoyable part of the ascent of Buena Vista Peak. This climb had no marked trail, though we were certainly not the first to ascend this peak. The boulders were strewn clear to the top as if a herculean dump truck had backed up beside the lake and left its load to be spread.

Our campsite was so close to the base of the peak, that we had a hard time representing the mountain in any one picture.

I was dubbed Obi Wan Kenobi for my blanket / coat / sleeping bag liner. This was the result of much contemplation and a few nights sleep lost last year in a 40 degree sleeping bag on consecutive 30 degree nights. Obsessed with minimalism, weight reduction, and multi purposes, I brought a sleeping bag liner and coat together into a medieval style micro-fleece robe. Don't knock it - it worked. It served all purposes in splendid fashion - did I say fashion? Yes, I will be taking orders as soon as the shipment of micro-fleece arrives. Best of all, thanks to the research and generosity of our family friend, Shiree, and a handful of clasps, snaps and thread that Bec had lying around - it was completely free. The design is absolutely original. Bec strategically intervened behind the sewing machine, but generally let me stumble through the stitches myself. One person actually thought I had bought it, though in their defense, they didn't get a very close look.

One of the many drops of Chilnualna Falls.

Just above our last night's campsite along Chilnualna Creek.

I left the wilderness with about 1/8 of my battery remaining in my phone. I took 185 pictures and about 10 minutes of video. But I took no calls.

Another successful wander away from the daily grind, and an opportunity to regain my focus on the Creator of it all.

Photo Credit - Matt
Who stumbled upon this little piece of paradise with Dave.

Check out Kelsey's blog, linked to the right, for some truly spectacular photos. Seems she was out there somewhere...