Enjoy the Journey
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
— John Muir
This is exactly what I did, and what was needed. The earth in her many forms has always been my calm. Blue skies, amazing mountain ranges, trees, and warm August winds. The drive from San Diego to Yosemite set the stage for a perfect back-packing get-away.
Our group of adventurers consisted of my husband, our oldest son, me, and four others; my brother and sister-in-law and my sister-in-law’s friend and her seventeen year old daughter. We’ve never traveled or vacationed together and exploring Yosemite’s backcountry seemed like the perfect opportunity to start!
Tuolumne Meadows Backpacker’s Camp was our designated meeting point. This camp would be our last night of restrooms and anything that was not firmly attached to our bodies via our backpacks. Our food was what we carried in, and any trash would be carried out and disposed of at the very end of our trip in a designated area. Yosemite’s regulations require that all food and toiletries are to be carried in “bear cans”.
Sunday morning, our trek was 5.5 miles to Upper Cathedral Lakes . As a runner, when I read this on paper, I thought – 5.5 miles, no big deal. As a San Diegan, who felt winded after an elevation gain of over 8,000 feet – I gained a healthy respect for the mileage, and soon thereafter, the terrain. The beautiful views along the way were well worth it.
The next morning, we set off for an approximately 6.1 mile trek to Upper Sunrise Lake which would be our campsite for the next two days. A nice bonus was that camp fires were allowed and given the increase in mosquitoes, campfire smoke is a great repellent! We set up camp near the lake. For the entire trip, all of our water had to be pumped (filtered) before drinking. Our morning and evening meals were usually prepared on two jet-boil stoves. There are more light-weight backpacking stoves, but these babies heat up water fast – well worth the weight trade-off.
The second day of our stay at Sunrise Lakes would include an 11.5 mile round-trip day hike to Clouds Rest – for most of us, this would be a packs-off hike – woo-hoo. After a few hours of hiking with a 30-35lb pack, taking it off made me feel like I was walking on an anti-gravity planet. My brother-in law who is an amazing person and backpacker was carrying about 65lbs – he graciously carried water and a few extras so he didn’t get to go pack-free, but he was able to get by with a lot less for the day hike. My hubby carried our water and food that day, so he didn’t get to go pack-free either, but he was also able to go a lot lighter.
As we were hiking down a fairly steep area, the knowledge that we would later be hiking back up it was something I tried not to think about. There were a few times where I was convinced that my legs weighed 100lbs each. As we reached the top, the views were breath-taking. We were able to see the entire Yosemite Valley. The hike up and down was challenging, but we were rewarded ten-fold by the views and experience.
The next morning would be our final hike. Our destination was Tenaya Lake and ultimately the Park Shuttle which would take us back to our cars. We all gave ourselves a treat and stopped at the Toulomne Meadows grill for a bite to eat on the way out.
Like life, our trip was amazing, challenging and gave us memories of a lifetime. At different points we all had our struggles, but we helped each other along the way. The most challenging times gave us the best rewards. We were reminded to stop and enjoy the journey, to be present in the moment and not just in search of the summit.
Great time, great people, great life reminders. What life lessons does nature teach you?by