Monday, September 10, 2012

Backpacking in the Ten Lakes Basin of Yosemite National Park

I can't remember much of what happened in the early part of last week.  All I know is I ended up missing my run on Tuesday.  I considered doing it on Wednesday but with rising at the crack of dawn on Thursday to drive to Yosemite and then backpack all day - I thought better to just skip it.  I also started my period on Wednesday.  Bad timing.  But, on to the fun!

I drove to Modesto Wednesday evening and unfortunately stayed up late. I think I finally hit the sack around midnight.  The alarm at 4:45am was a bit of a rude awakening.  But I eventually got on the road and arrived at White Wolf camp at 8am to meet the rest of the crew.  There were 7 of us women altogether.

The sign Karen posted at White Wolf so we could find one another.  No cell service in the woods!
We arranged and re-arranged our stuff until we were ready to set off.  We drove down Tioga Road a bit and parked at the trail head to the Ten Lakes Basin area.  My pack was comfortable and the weight felt manageable.  I was carrying my sleeping bag, pad and pillow, a bear canister full of food (and alcohol), clothes, my camelbak (for water and for the next days' day hike), and various other necessities.  I didn't have to carry a tent, stove or water filter because others were bringing that stuff.

Most of the trail felt relatively flat.  Looking at the elevation profile (of course I wore my Garmin!) but I didn't feel like I noticed it much...until around mile 5 when the climb got really steep.  I'd never used hiking poles before but Sarah lent me one (Thanks Sarah!) and I was amazed at how much they help.  I'm definitely getting a set for next years' venture.  Here's the map and elevation profile of our hike in.

A map of our hike into the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite.

Elevation profile of hike into the Ten Lakes Basin, Yosemite. (It's easier than it looks, until mile 5 that is.)
And here I am near the start of our journey.

That long sleeved shirt came off pretty quick!  Hi Erin!  Thanks for the picture Sarah :)
We passed through different surrounds, from rocky areas with not so many trees to Half Moon Meadow and then a very rocky, steep climb in classic High Sierra terrain.  Along the way we saw deer, marmots, a couple of grouse and some seriously cute chipmunks.  We also heard from ravens and other birds.  Several of the women on the trip are biologists that specialize in birds so they identified everything for us.

The view from the peak, at around 9600 feet elevation, was breathtaking.  We saw several of the lakes and just stood in awe taking in the beautiful valley.  This area has been called the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and it did not disappoint.  As for my body, my quads and glutes felt totally fine but around mile 6, during the descent, my shoulders started to seriously ache.  The pain was becoming sharp when I had to take a rest and some Advil.  After that my shoulders hurt a lot less, and I'm sure it helped that we were going downhill.  The official distance for the trail is 6.3 miles but all our side scampers added a bit and by the time we chose our camp spot I clocked us in at 7.16 miles.  Whew!  Taking off that pack felt like such a relief.

I was so pleased with how my body handled the work.  Things like this would have been completely outside of my ability in years past.  Heck, I don't know if I could have done this even last year before I started exercising again.  But today I am strong and fit and capable and look at what I can do!  People might think that "diet and exercise" is hard work, too much trouble, not worth the effort...but the payoff is huge.  I spent three days exploring pristine beauty that I would never have been able to see had I not worked to turn my body into something that could take me to these places.  It's harder to remember this when it's 9pm and I'm craving large amounts of ice cream, but trips like this make the connection so clear and strong.

We set up camp and I ended up in a tent by myself, which turned out to be quite nice.  I'm sure I slept better than I would have otherwise so for future trips it will be worth the extra 5 pounds to carry my own.  For dinner that night we had yellow curry with cashews and cheese over brown rice.  It was delicious!  Not to mention I was starving.  After dinner we stayed up next to the BEST campfire ever (thanks to Angie) drinking and laughing under a star-filled sky.  I was careful to watch my alcohol consumption though because I didn't want to wake up feeling like death.  I was a bit worried about being cold but between the campfire, the alcohol and my long johns, I was plenty warm all night.

And it's a good thing I didn't overdo the drinking because the morning was amazing!  I cozied up on a big boulder with the sun shining over the lake, a hot cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal - I could have sat there all day.  And I almost did.  The rest of the crew were prepping for a day hike but I just wanted to relax with my book so I bowed out.  But then someone said something about the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne and I decided I couldn't miss out on those vistas so I hurried to get ready.

The view from my breakfast spot.
We had the most luxurious day I've experienced in ages.  We hiked to several of the lakes.  Around midday we stripped down and took a chilly dip in the cool alpine water and then sprawled out on large granite boulders to eat, read and lounge around in the sun.  It was peaceful, quiet, relaxing and perfect.

Karen and I lakeside.
I was so glad I didn't skip the hike, I got the relaxing quiet that I wanted but I also got to see more of the beautiful lakes and views.  And I got to spend the day with a really great group of women.  We were mostly in our 40's, mostly all moms, and definitely all grounded, mature, know-how-to-have-fun kind of women.  Sarah spent three weeks backpacking the John Muir trail, most of it alone!  I loved asking her questions about that trek.  I have to make this work for next year.  While it was hard not knowing how the kids were doing, and I found myself wondering about them throughout the trip, it was nice being forced to be out of touch with the world.  No email, no text, no news, no calls, nada.  Good thing I trust my husband to keep things running smooth at home.

One of the Ten Lakes.
Eventually we made our way up to one of the highest peaks in the immediate area.  The view was beyond words.  So here, take a look at the pictures :)

Love the clouds!

Dania, Angie, Sarah, Leslie, Erin, Karen and myself.

I spotted this heart naturally carved into the granite as we stepped off the peak.

Back at camp and it was night one all over again, except I indulged a tiny bit more in the drink.  We sat around another incredible fire and I begged the night sky for a shooting star, which I finally got.  I slept pretty well and had another great morning by the lake before packing up for the hike back to our cars.  This time we got the uphill part out of the way at the start and could then enjoy a leisurely trek back.  And, again, a huge sense of relief as I took off the pack for the last time. 

Karen, Leslie, Angie, Erin, Dania, Sarah and yours truly.
We decided to stop at In-n-Out before splitting up and heading home.  And good thing because I was starving!  I had a double-double with fries and a milkshake.  Needless to say, I didn't lose any weight on this trip, but who cares?  That's not what I went for.  I'll have to take a pass on this past week's weigh-in and see what next Friday looks like.  Well, that's it.  I took today off to rest up and got a lot of little jobs done around the house.  I considered doing the long run that was on schedule for yesterday, 6 miles, but in the end I just wasn't up for it.  My toes are still tender from all those hours in the boots.  But I'll get back on the training plan soon enough, I have to, that half-marathon is going to come quick!

1 comment:

  1. What a gift! Our bodies are miracles. Happy that you had a fun time.


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