The Wonders of Yosemite

9:10 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
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This isn't a real "trip report" but I'll try to find time to write one :).

I went backpacking for two nights this weekend in Yosemite.

In the "I can't believe they did that" category: near the summit of Clouds Rest (~9900 ft), right at an overlook with a breathtaking panoramic vista ... was a bunch of fresh TP scattered on the ground, where someone had decided they needed a toilet with a view :-(. If you notice, it's right at the edge of a ~5000 foot drop to the valley floor below. Aside from the poor behavior, it seems like a pretty risky place to squat ...

And in the "I've never seen that before" category: a few miles in, also on the trail toward Clouds Rest, were a couple of guys backpacking. One of them was puffing on a cigarette as he hiked. Yep, seriously!!!

I didn't take a picture of him though :).

12:46 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
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I hiked with a guy in the Tetons who smoked every time we stopped for a break. In 20 miles of hiking he smoked a pack of cigarettes. I asked him about it and while he knew it was a bad habit he could'nt seem to help himself.

10:19 p.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah - and I hope I didn't offend anyone with my comments. I didn't mean to sound judgmental. Hey, if smoking works for the guy, then all the power to him :). The thought going thru my mind when I saw him was along the lines of, "how does he manage to get up this trail doing that?".

As for the TP by the viewpoint ... well that's a different matter :(.

12:12 a.m. on August 19, 2010 (EDT)
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So did you pack it out? I carry extra Ziploc bags for such things. Turn the Ziploc inside out, put your hand in it, pick up the TP, zip the bag closed. No having to touch the TP barehandedly.

Personally I dont use TP in the backcountry, I use a smooth rock, a smooth stick or grass. Nothing left behind but the waste. A friend carrys a lighter or matches and incinerates the TP to nothing, watching that it does'nt catch anything else on fire. Burying it is not good as squirrels and other smal animals will dig it up.

12:56 a.m. on August 19, 2010 (EDT)
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To be totally honest, I have enough trouble dealing with packing out my own used TP, not to mention someone else's... especially in the backcountry where water is at a premium, and thorough washing is difficult at best.

But my "issues" aside, I had left most of my supplies at my off-trail campsite on this particular jaunt, and gone on a "day hike" up to Clouds Rest. So I didn't have anything in which to carry anything like this...

11:29 a.m. on August 19, 2010 (EDT)
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Its okay, just asking? I have'nt been to Clouds Rest since the spring of 1980 when I spent January to May living and winter camping in Yosemite. A friend and I hiked up to Little Yosemite Valley, camped and day hiked to the saddle between Half Dome and Clouds Rest. He was an experienced climber and while he climbed the cables of Half Dome I hiked on up to Clouds Rest. The valley below was covered in clouds as it usually was that spring.

I was 24 in the spring of 1980. It was my second time in Yosemite the first was in 1977 when I was 21 during a 8000 mile hitchhike around the USA that summer. I was in Yosemite in early September 1977 and stayed about four days with a two night stay in Little Yosemite Valley where a bear was raiding camps. I had left my tshirt hanging in a tree outside my tent and it ate all but the collar of my shirt which wasstill hanging on the branch where I hung it the night before.

I went back to Yosemite after living,working and playing in Alaska for two years. I hiked all over the Yosemite area. I did the rim trail rom the Winona Tunnel to Tenaya Lake and from the old stage coach road below El Cap to the high Sierra camp. I especially liked Tenaya Lake and the Tioga road, which even in late winter was 75% dry while the edges were drifted in snow. I once walked all the way to Tuolumne Meadows on it from Tenaya Lake and di not need my snowshoes or crosscountry skiis in Feburary.

I saw the Sentinal Pine on Sentinal Dome when it was still alive.

The climbers in the valley were playing Hacky-Sack when it was little known anywhere esle yet, unlike today where every kid seems to know the game.

In the 5 months I lived in Yosemite I spent 80% of the time in the high country. I would buy 3 months of groceries in Merced and mil it back to myself in the valley. The post master would hold it for me till I needed it or I would use lockers that were next to the gas station just outside Camp Four/ Sunnyside camp.

In the winter then Sunnyside was 20 degrees warmer than Camp Curry below Glacier Point. The sun in winter would rise about 9 am in Feburary on Sunnyside, while Camp Curry was in the shade most of the winter, still buried in snow till late April when the spring sun would strt climbing over and hitting the camps canvas tourist tents.

I even lived in an igloo on top of El Cap and often greeted the climbers as they summited El Cap. I stay up there with my igloo as a base camp for a month. Thats how I hiked the high country, I would pack a months worth of supplies up to somewhere along the north or south rims set up camp and do a months worth of day hikes and some overnight hikes back to places I liked from my base camp. I used a Mtn North Face VE24 and a secondary Bivy tent for day hikes so I could stay out longer if I wanted from base camps. I had a EMS -30 degree down bag and never felt cold.

In that spring of 1980 I dont remember when a 4 foot Sierra cement snowfall happened one night. I collapsed my tent down to when I woke up the top of my tent was 2 inches from my face. On the Yosemite Falls trail Ponderosa Pines many feet thick were snapped off like toothpicks and a later rock slide destroyed about a 1/4 mile of the trail and killed 3-4 hikers. The trail was closed tillmid summer 1980 when the park could repair it.

Weekends were very busy with tourists but weekdays from Monday to Friday, it was just a few of us hardy hikers and the climbers at the west end of Sunnyside camp. They, the climbers thought we backcountry winter hikers were crazy, and we hikers thought the climbers were crazy.

That was the best spring of my outdoor hiking adventurers. The two summers before I had been hiking Denali in Alaska. After Yosemite I started working 3 months a year and taking 9 month vacations around the west in places like the Grand Canyon where I spent Fall, Winter and Spring hiking to my hearts content from 1983-2003. I went back and forth from Jackson Hole WY in the summers to Arizona and the GC in the rest of the seasons.

9:36 a.m. on August 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I believe we crossed paths in the winter of 1980.

I was part of a winter group of six that was skiing a route that originated out of the June Lake loop, gaining access to Lyell Canyon via Donohue Pass, then heading approximately parallel to the Tioga Pass Road. We encountered you mid January, on the topside portion of the Yosemite Creek Trail. We exchanged stories, and shared trail goodies. We were attempting to reach Curry Camp in one day from Tanya Lake, but as we crossed your camp it was already late in the day, and ended up camping about a quarter mile downstream from your tent. The next day we descended the trail - or should I say down climbed a line approximating the trail’s course. Very icy and physical. All I remember of that last day is getting to Curry Village, downing two double Irish Coffees, and collapsing into the cot in my cabin tent. I had enjoyed all I could stand of the cold, wind, snow, long marches, dehydrated food, stinking tent mates, and lack of female company. I awoke later, intensely “decorated,” the price of being the first to pass out. Never again, I said to myself, will I be the first to pass out, that is. Otherwise it was a classic midwinter interlude. We enjoyed the typically good, sunny, but cold weather afforded by the effects of the Rocky Mountain high pressure cell that typically sets up that time of year, and steers the jet stream with its storms north over Canada. A fine way to squander away one’s youth.

3:29 p.m. on August 21, 2010 (EDT)
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I liked Yosemite in the winter! I stayed on till the snow was almost gone in the valley in May. A ranger friend Renny Jackson was the one who told me about Jackson Holeand that i should go there to find work or lots of hiking. He was a seasonal ranger in Yosemite's winters and a climbing ranger in the Tetons in the summer.

So we met in Yosemite? Thats cool!

I have met many hikers and travelers around the places I have been to over the last 34 years, few I ever saw again. Only guy I remember meeting twice was a roommate I had in Anchorage AK in 1979, I later saw him again in Dallas TX at the Greyhound station in 1982. And a retired couple I met while bicycling across the midwest from Wyoming to New York, I met them at a campground in Wisconsin and later ran into them at a Stuckeys Restuarant in Texas when I was cycling the following spring from Arkansas to Arizona. All part of the same 7000 mile bicycle tour. I had also rode south from NY to Arkansas and Arizona to Wyoming later.

Last time I saw that face in your profile was in Mad magazine, Alfred E. Newman.

11:08 p.m. on August 24, 2010 (EDT)
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GaryPalmer, that's quite a story. As you described each situation, I visualized myself actually being there. It sounds like quite an experience! :)

12:33 p.m. on August 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes its always amazing to me how much detail I remember about my trips from that spring in Yosemite. I have been a adventurer traveler since 1977 when I first took my 8000 hitchhike of the USA. After that I have lived in Alaska, bicycled 7000 miles in 1983-84 and backpacked all over the west mostly with a summer in Lake Placid in 1996. I made Jackson Hole my summer home and the southwest my winter home for 20 years from 1983-2003.

Now after such a great long independant life I am thinking of retiring to south Utah in the slickrock country there in the couple years. I have not had a perminate home since leaving my parents house that summer in June 77 when I hitched those 8000 miles. I have lived all over the USA, had many, many jobs and places to live but none that lasted more than a year.

I would like to see myself settled in 5 years when I am 60, hard to believe it that in a few years I will be 60 already. But I don't mean to stop traveling, hiking and maybe camping. I am looking into different ways to pack my stuff. Maybe Llama's, mules, goats or just continue my bicycle touring as long as I can push down the pedals. I cycled across Alaska 1000 miles in 2006 from Prudoe Bay to Seward/Homer Spit, north Bering Coast to the Pacific Coast south of Anchorage.

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