Monday, November 29, 2010

Yosemite Turkey Day Trek

In a moment of what I'd now like to refer to as brief insanity, I agreed to spend our Thanksgiving weekend camped out at Yosemite. We spent last Thanksgiving camping in Big Sur and although it was chilly and rained a bit, we have great memories with the kids from that trip. This year, the kids were spending Thanksgiving with their dad. So a romantic weekend in a tent sounded harmless and fun.  A great time to get away, connect with nature and each other, get in a few hikes and come home rested and rejuvenated.

The sign of snow on the side of the road and the required chains warning should have been my first clue. Lets keep in mind that I am a born-and-raised California girl. And although I spent a few seasons living in Lake Tahoe, I certainly didn't spend my days and nights seeking out the cold. A long (almost 10 hour) drive later and we arrived at Camp 4. There was snow. Everywhere. Carl could not have been more thrilled. I, on the other hand, was in total shock that we were actually planning to sleep in this stuff. There was only one site left that was shoveled out (yes, there were actually other people with the same crazy idea!!) so we picked our spot and set up camp. At 1. In. The. Morning. Setting up went fairly quickly and as soon as I regained the feeling in my toes and put on my layers - one pair of silk long john, flannel pj pants, two pairs of wool socks, a thermal shirt, a fleece, a hooded sweatshirt and an earflap cap - we climbed into our ONE sleeping bag and snoozed away.

Waking up was beautiful. The sights of Yosemite are breathtaking. And even though it was still freezing-buns cold and there were trails of yellow snow from our neighboring campsite, I was still excited to get in a great hike. Just as soon as we both climbed back in the tent, in our jackets, for another hour of sleep. Or two.

A belated campsite breakfast and we were ready to trek up Yosemite Falls. 3.5 miles in the snow. It was beautiful and sketchy, but well worth the view.

Lets keep in mind that this picture was taken 30 seconds after Carl stated that it looked like things were flattening out. Riiiiight.

And this is after the trail where other people had hiked ended and Carl decided that we should make our own tracks. In thigh-high snow.

That road came to an abrupt end when we could no longer tell what was rock and what was snow that would give way to nothing underneath.

Unfortunately, our trek back down the falls wasn't nearly as pleasant. Melting snow turned to ice as soon as the sun started its ascent down the sky.

Carl was certain to keep a weapon on hand in the event that we met with any bears or mountain lions.

Promises of a hot shower soon turned to tears when the showers we did find were closed for the winter. We took shelter in the laundry room where we quickly changed into dry clothes under the watchful eye of a bat that kept swooping closer to us. Believe it or not, I could've cared less about the shower and was far more interested in what awaited at the Lodge. Thanksgiving dinner. A well-earned turkey dinner. We waited in line for what seemed like an eternity. I threatened to swipe a cornbread muffin to nosh while we waited in line. I thought it was my imagination and hunger that made it seem as though the line wasn't moving. In fact, it wasn't. There were about 20-30 people actually waiting, WAITING, for stuffing. As soon as the man called out, "anyone who doesn't want stuffing line up here!" I bolted. Carl actually gave me a look as if to say, "but I really want stuffing", but I'm pretty sure I shot daggers at him so that cleared up that pretty quickly. I was literally shaking from exhaustion, cold and hunger by the time we sat down to eat. I almost lost both my milk and my chocolate mousse from shaking and trying to walk with my warped food tray.

Leaving the warmth of the Lodge was a pretty difficult task, but my aching body needed to be in a horizontal position. I fantasized about the great night of sleep ahead (how wrong I would be, more on that later!). We capped off the evening with a warm mug of Tuaca and apple cider, packed our goodies away in the Bear Box and tucked into our one sleeping bag. Yes, one sleeping bag. I was feeling very thankful for that one sleeping bag at the end of my Thanksgiving.

The rest of the trip for tomorrow's post.

How was your holiday?