Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another great time at the Y

2008 marked the fifth time that our family has camped in Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite for a week. This time around, we had the largest group yet... not just the five of us from our family, but 43 more friends from Riverside (and Texas). Our friends (the DuCasses) who organize the trip managed to secure 12 campsites that were the closest to the Merced River... the most desirable spots in the campground.

Highlights of the trip:

Fri, July 11 - Driving 400 miles and setting up camp.

Sat, July 12 - Rafting on the river. (I got up early in the morning and ran a 10-mile round-trip route to/from Bridal Veil Falls. That is one beautiful trail on which to run.)

Sun, July 13 - Hiking Yosemite Falls. This is a strenuous 3.5-mile climb up 3,000' of elevation to the top of the highest waterfall in North America. Our family (along with 11 others) progressed up the trail. We all ended up spread out on the trail according to our paces. But in a few hours all 16 of us had made it to the top. We all swam in the cold water (but well upstream, nowhere near the edge). Soon storm clouds started forming to the north. We gathered our things and hustled on down the trail. We were drenched with cold rain most of the way down the trail.

Earlier that morning, Lynne and I got up early and ran ~7 miles in Yosemite valley. What was really cool was that we spotted a bobcat over near Yosemite Village. It's back end with on the path with its short stubby tail sticking up in the air. When it poked its head up, it was still holding a mouse that it had just caught for breakfast. Pretty cool. I had never seen a bobcat in Yosemite before.

Mon, July 14 - Rafting on the river again. Another great trip down the Merced, except this time we had to scurry off the river as another thunderstorm approached.

Earlier that morning, I ran my 10-mile route to/from Bridal Veil Falls again. Gotta love that trail.

Tues, July 15 - Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows. Prior to our trip, I had bought my first ice axe and set of crampons. My goal was Mt. Lyell (13,114'), the highest point in Yosemite. The route involved a trek across the Lyell Glacier, a relatively simple glacier to cross that often is used to teach beginners. (It has no life-threatening crevasses or steep slopes.)

The route to Lyell has a long approach. Basically, you hike out 11 miles through a high altitude meadow, before you even leave the trail to begin the 3.5-mile, class-3 climb up to the peak of Lyell.
Most climbers do this as a 2-day hike allow for an early morning climb to the peak. I didn't want to be gone from the family that long so I attempted it as a 29-mile day-hike. I camped the night before (Mon) at Tuolumne Meadows campground to avoid the 90-minute drive to the TH.

I got an early start on the hike, but I didn't realize how many different trails converged in the Tuolumne Meadows area. (I had thought there was simply one trail that went straight out towards Donahue Pass.) I ended up wasting a good bit of time making sure I was on the correct trail. I was enjoying the hike through the meadows, but halfway out I realized I was running out of time to make it up and down Lyell and back to camp at a reasonable hour. (Class-3 climbing goes much slower than hiking, and our family did have to pack up that night to leave the next day.)

So unfortunately, my ice axe and crampons went unused and I decided to not attempt Lyell. Instead, I simply hiked on out to Donahue Pass (11,056') where the John Muir Trail leaves Yosemite National Park on its 212-mile trek to Mt. Whitney. Suffice it to say, I was the only day-hiker out there. Everyone else was on Day 3 or Day 4 of their backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. (One of these days I'm gonna have to do that.) I thoroughly enjoyed the hike, but I wish I had either had enough time to make it up Lyell or simply run that trail sans backpack as a nice long trail run. Oh well.

Wed, July 16 - Drove home to SoCal. Unfortunately, we were leaving a day earlier than the rest of our friends because Mary Ann had one of her last classes at Cal State San Bernardino. We drove straight from Yosemite to drop her off with paper in hand for her class. But she made it and we had squeezed in a great family trip in the process.