On Saturday morning, immediately after the Mozilla All Hands, I went with some friends to Yosemite for an outstanding five-night, five-day hiking-and-camping trip! We hiked from the Cathedral Lakes trailhead all the way down to Yosemite Valley, ascending Clouds Rest and Half Dome along the way. The itinerary:
- Saturday night: camped at Tuolumne Meadows
- Sunday: hiked from Cathedral Lakes trailhead past the Cathedral Lakes to Sunrise High Sierra Camp
- Monday: hiked from Sunrise HSC past the Sunrise Lakes to camp just north of Clouds Rest
- Tuesday: hiked up and over Clouds Rest and camped just north of the trail leading up to Half Dome
- Wednesday: left most of our gear in camp, climbed Half Dome, returned to camp, and hiked down to camp in Little Yosemite Valley
- Thursday: hiked out to Yosemite Valley
Apart from the first day, each day was relatively short in terms of distance, but the first few days were quite strenuous regardless because of the altitude. I've never spent much time above 2500m and I was definitely unusually short of breath. The highest points on the trail were around 3000m, where the air pressure was down to 700 millibars.
The weather was (predictably) good: cold at night the first couple of nights, warmer later, but always warm and sunny during the day.
We saw lots of animals — deer, marmots, chipmunks, woodpeckers, other birds, lizards, and other animals you don't see in New Zealand. Also lots of interesting trees, flowers and other plants.
The mosquitoes at Sunrise HSC were terrible in the morning! My friend said it was the worst he'd ever seen, even having grown up in South Florida.
I've never camped for so many consecutive nights before — in New Zealand we usually stay in huts. I got to use my "squeeze bag" mechanical water filter a lot; it works very well and doesn't have the latency of the chemical purifiers.
Swimming in the Merced River at Little Yosemite Valley after a hot day felt very good!
I thought my fear of heights would kick in climbing the cables to get to the top of Half Dome, but it didn't at all. The real challenge was upper body strength, using my arms to pull myself up the cables — my strength is all in my legs.
Needless to say, Clouds Rest and Half Dome had amazing views and they deserve their iconic status. I'm very thankful to have had the chance to visit them.
My companions on the trip were also great, a mix of old friends and new. Thank you.