How I know my husband loves me: he got video full of marmot!

Also, he returned to us from the John Muir Trail, having hiked all 211 miles over 17 days. You’ll see from his photos why he may have considered staying there. The world looks a little different from 10,000 feet.

 

Proud of this kiddo. Our son hiked the first section of the trail with his dad (about 62 miles in 6 days), and started on the second segment, but despite multiple means of prevention and treatment, was so plagued with painful blisters from his shoes and chafing from his pack, that he just couldn't continue.

Proud of this kiddo.
Our 19-year-old son hiked the first section of the trail with his dad (about 62 miles in 6 days), and started on the second segment, but despite multiple means of prevention and treatment, was so plagued with painful blisters from his shoes and chafing from his pack, that he just couldn’t continue. And now he has a hitchhiking story to go with his hiking story!

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Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys had to start their hike there inside the yellow circle at Red's Meadow last weekend and go north. Next week, I'll drop them off at Red's Meadow again, and they'll complete the southern part of the trail.

Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys started their hike there inside the yellow circle near Red’s Meadow on July 9, and went north, finishing at Happy Isles in Yosemite on July 14, Tim’s 50th birthday. I wrote about that here
On July 20th, I dropped them off near Red’s Meadow again, and they started heading south. Dane hitched a ride home on the 22nd, and Tim continued hiking for another week, summiting Mt. Whitney and completing the trail on July 31.

Next up for us: we’re heading back to Texas for about a month. We’ve got a Longhorn to get settled back in at UT, we’ve got some medical appointments to take care of, and we need to reconnect with family, friends, Tex-Mex and BBQ!

There was no mail at the Devil’s Postpile, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness is in color

IMG_7335The boys are back on the John Muir Trail, to complete the approximately 150-mile portion from Mammoth Pass south to Mount Whitney. (Last week, they hiked the approximately 60-mile portion from Mammoth Pass north to Happy Isles, and I picked them up in holy-shit-is-this-place-crowded Yosemite.)

So while they’re backpacking, I’m day-hiking, but on trails that are designated “popular,” “easy to follow,” “heavily trafficked,” or any combination thereof. I’ve not been blessed with a very accurate sense of direction, so when I’m hiking solo, I do what it takes to keep myself safe and un-lost.

ranger station

Today I put in 5-6 miles, hiking from the Ranger Station (6) to Devil’s Postpile to Rainbow Falls (You Are Here) to the Lower Falls (bottom center), and back up to Red’s Meadow (10).

Since I was in the Ansel Adams Wilderness for most of my time on the trail, I took the liberty of using black & white filters on some of my photos as an homage. They’re nice, but definitely not of the same caliber as Mr. Adams’ artwork.

This is the Devil's Postpile. See? Not a letter or package in sight, just columnar basalt.

This is the Devil’s Postpile. See? Not a letter or package in sight, just columnar basalt. I will now try to inject the phrase “columnar basalt” into casual conversation at every possible opportunity.

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Columnar basalt down!

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I crossed right the heck over the JMT! Tim and Dane would have walked through here on the first day of their northbound hike last week.

I crossed right the heck over the JMT! Tim and Dane would have walked through here on the first day of their northbound hike last week.

It was a long way down...

It was a long way down…

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

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5th arrow down: MT WHITNEY. That's where I'll pick up my guys in about two weeks. Also, I find it curious that SHOWERS are designated as mandatory, but COLD BEER is not?

5th arrow down: MT WHITNEY. That’s where I’ll pick up my guys in about two weeks. Also, I find it curious that SHOWERS are designated as mandatory, but COLD BEER is not?

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Saved the best sign for last. I’d been hiking for 3 hours by the time I got to it, and I was ready for that bus ride back to the parking lot!

Backpackers stink! And so does Yosemite in July. OMG, just… don’t do it.

Emily "You Can Embroider That Shit on a Toss Pillow" Rohrer

~ Emily “You Can Embroider That Shit on a Toss Pillow” Rohrer

Close your eyes and place yourself in your favorite outdoor setting, be it a state or local park, hiking trail, beach or lakefront cabin, wooded grove, waterfall, even your own back yard. Then…

Open your eyes and contend with a DisneyWorld-esque crowd of tourists who are trying to enjoy the exact same spot with you, stopping to consult their maps right in your path, posing for selfies in front of everything, dealing with children who have obviously just had it, and/or driving with one arm out the window to shoot video that nobody will ever want to look at — because every single one of them spent significant time, effort, and money to get there, and they are going to have the Experience of a Lifetime, dammit, same as you.

That’s what Yosemite is like in July.
Squirrel! This is one of the thinner ones you are likely to encounter if you walk more than a mile on a trail. The ones closer to more popular areas are both tame and fat. Quelle surprise.

Squirrel!
This is one of the thinner ones you are likely to encounter if you walk more than a mile on a trail, at which point the human traffic decreases considerably.
The squirrels closer to more popular areas are both tame and fat.
Quelle surprise.

By 2:00 in the afternoon, it was not hungry bears that park visitors had to worry about. It was me. To quote late comedian John Pinette, “I’d lost my cherub-like demeanor.”
Although I managed to keep most of my words in my head, under my breath, or inside the truck while following others, I did uh, quite a lot of swearing and name-calling. On the plus side, my expletive-filled rants rather seem to have impressed my 19-year-old!
These are bear lockers. Your supposed to put your food items in there, rather than leaving them in your car for bears to tear apart. By mid-afternoon, I say we take the food out of the lockers, and put half the people in.

These are bear lockers.
You’re supposed to put your food items in there, rather than leaving them in your car for bears to tear apart while you’re gone.
By mid-afternoon, I say we take the food out, and put half the tourists in.

We know what summer crowds are, and yes, we know how to avoid them. However, if you’re hiking the John Muir Trail, you have to do it when there’s little or no snow, and if you’re hiking the whole thing, you have to go through Yosemite.
Since Tim (husband) and Dane (our younger son) hiked the northern third of the trail this week, they had to exit there, at the Happy Isles Trailhead, which meant I had to depart our home in Lee Vining by 0530 to get into the park by 0730, in order to get a parking space in the closest lot to their exit point.
Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys had to start their hike there inside the yellow circle at Red's Meadow last weekend and go north. Next week, I'll drop them off at Red's Meadow again, and they'll complete the southern part of the trail.

Due to jumping a little late into the permitting process, my guys are unable to hike the trail end to end. They had to start their hike inside the yellow circle near Red’s Meadow last weekend and go north.
Next week, I’ll drop them off near Red’s Meadow again, and they’ll complete the southern part of the trail. Total mileage: 211

It was awful — awful for me with the hordes of domestic and foreign tourists in the valley, and also awful for Tim and Dane out in the “wilderness.” Tim said that three years ago when he came through while hiking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, he could go hours and hours without seeing another hiker. This year? Minutes. It has clearly become a thing, and that’s kind of a shame, and it’s difficult to reconcile the happiness of knowing more people are getting out there and enjoying back-country hiking, with the utter dejection of having to share.
Rant over. Sorry. I know I have issues.
But I still got some cool photos, with minimal numbers of people in them. My apologies for not labeling all of them. I have a terrible sense of direction, so even if I were to look at a map to try to figure out what I was looking at, I won’t remember exactly where I was or which direction I was facing, so it’s kind of a lost cause. No pun intended.
Vernal Falls

Vernal Falls

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Upper Yosemite Falls

Upper Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls

Lower Yosemite Falls

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Mirror Lake

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Mirror Lake, the other direction

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My Guys (Dane refused to smile. In many ways, he's still the 2-year-old we know and love.) Since it was Tim's 50th birthday, I hiked in to meet them. They'd put in about 62 miles in 6 days, with the stinkydirty clothing to prove it! But because of some crossed signals about our meeting point (they took the high road, I took the low road), I in fact put in a longer hike than they did that day! Boys: 11 miles. Emily: 12 miles.

My Guys
(Dane refused to smile. Boy might look like a man, but in some ways he’s still 2.)
Since it was Tim’s 50th birthday, I hiked in to meet them. They’d put in about 62 miles in 6 days, with the stinkydirty clothing to prove it!
But because I’d been exploring the park for a few hours already, and there were some crossed signals about our meeting point (they took the high road, I took the low road), I in fact put in a longer hike than they did that day! Boys: 11 miles. Emily: 12 miles.

Yosemite, we will visit you again, but we’ll shoot for early May or late September next time, mmmkay?


After a lengthy cool down period (like, almost a year), I revisited this post and wrote a somewhat more helpful — and a lot less snarky — version, for those who might be interested in a summer camping trip to Yosemite. It’s here.