The following is Part 7 in a series concerning my experience with the Pacific Crest Trail. The previous six parts can be found via the “Blog Archive” down amidst the right-hand column.
THE MOST GLORIOUS OF SANCTUARIES
15 June: Friday—Panoramic Point
I have returned to the wilderness.
I must confess that it is with some trepidation that I have come. How will my feet do, and what of my spirit? I have taken some measures that will hopefully improve the former, such as wearing better shoes. Currently, my spirit is positive because I will be accessing the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) via Yosemite National Park, which is one of my favorite places. Today my friends, Matthew Whitlock and Andrew Thomas, and I entered this most glorious of sanctuaries. We first drove the somewhat long, albeit expansive, roundtrip to Tuolumne Meadows so that I could drop off a ten-day re-supply box for my northbound PCT journey to South Lake Tahoe. I will set off on the actual PCT in one week. Meanwhile, the three of us will enjoy a weekend climbing Half Dome and exploring some of the high country. They will leave Sunday, to which I will linger to explore the main Yosemite Valley from every vantage point along its tall rim. So far I have had an excellent overview. After Tuolumne Meadows we drove into Yosemite Valley. It brought back memories of the Chris and Christina Mahoney wedding. It has been five years since I was last here, which was with Nathaniel Moore hiking Half Dome at night—a few months after the wedding. It has been too long.
Our current permit allowed us to enter the Yosemite wilderness via Glacier Point. What beauty. A gentle thunderstorm passed as we began our descent to Illilouette Creek. The sun eventually shone through, illuminating a rugged eastern Yosemite landscape. After a steep westward ascent, we made camp off the trail on Panoramic Point. Someone else with a fire and bright light is camping near the trail below us. Andrew is already sleeping. Matthew and I are basking in the growing starlight—while also being mindful of mosquitoes. I only hope that no bear tries to get our food bag suspended from a tree limb; for I could not fit all of our food into my Bear Vault BV500 Food Canister. Otherwise, the weather is pleasant. The moon has not yet appeared. Nevada Falls provides a soothing lullaby from a few miles away. Tomorrow we shall climb Half Dome. Until then, rest. Praise you, YHWH, for second chances. Amen.
16 June: Saturday—Little Yosemite Valley Campground
I am tired, so I will be brief:
Andrew was up early this morning. I struggled to rise due to a restless night hearing real or imagined activity around our wilderness camp. The bear defenses did hold, though. Lacking water—we were all quite dehydrated—we waited to eat breakfast until reaching the top of Nevada Falls. I love that area. The water is so clear and cool in Yosemite; everything one could want.
After getting organized, we began our Half Dome ascent. (Note: While there is a “lottery” to acquire a Half Dome Day Permit, if you acquire a general Wilderness Permit—for wilderness camping—which is not difficult, you automatically qualify for a Half Dome Permit.) As expected, there was a lot of hiking traffic on the trail. Andrew struggled; thus our pace was quite slow. Below the rim that borders the Little Dome, Matthew and I left Andrew—at his suggestion—while we completed the climb. What sobering vistas Half Dome provides.
I wonder where else I will explore while here in the Yosemite Valley region. I do not look forward to doing it alone. I am Adam in Eden without Eve.
We chose to camp in Little Yosemite Valley Campground. It is busy, but I like it. We were sure to indulge in drinking as much water as possible. While eating dinner on the bear locker, we had a neighbor arrive who was quite high. Not long after he managed to crack a sapling while sitting down in his hammock, exposing more rear end than a plumber, he smoked a cigar and offered us some pot. Eddie. . . . The characters one meets in the wild. Also, the mosquitoes are quite ravenous in this area. They seem to be worst at dusk. Anyway, tomorrow my companions shall depart. I am glad for their company. I am glad that Andrew came to visit California. How will it be after their departure? I do not yet know. It is a strange and somewhat unsettling freedom.