My training began months before we left. I hate running. It's the most boring physical activity there is, but run I did. I find this act of building up cardio endurance redemptive only because it allows me to hike for longer periods of time. In a few months, I would be backpacking a few nights in the cold mountains of Yosemite National Park, one of my favorite places in the world.
My friends Alan and Stephen picked me up from the Fresno airport. Famished, we headed over to get a hardy breakfast at IHOP. Stephen took the meaning of "hearty" to the next level by ordering double chocolate pancakes and a hamburger with a side of fries. It was 10:30am. The next stop was REI, where we spent an hour because I think that's the minimum amount of time anybody can spend there.
We didn't get to the park around 4, which was very late because the sun set at 4:30pm. We went to the visitor center to decide tell the park rangers which route we wanted to do. Despite the rangers not recommending we do Cloud's Rest trail during the snowy season, we picked that one, but our original plans to start our hike that night were foiled since it was dark and also pouring rain. We would have to set up a base camp at one of the car camping sites that first night. This sounded awful because setting up a tent in the rain is one of the worst experiences a camper can endure, right after bear mauling.
The next thing we knew, we were opening the door to a cozy room at the Yosemite lodge. Somehow, we convinced ourselves to stay there that night. It was the family room, meant to sleep 7 people, but the same price as the smaller rooms. We organized our backpacks to be ready for the hike the next day and set our alarms to 5am and 6am, in case for some reason we didn't wake up to the first one.
We woke up at 9am to a beautiful, clear day and went next door to the cafe to get yet another hearty breakfast. Afterwards, we put on our 50 pound backpacks, and the adventure began. In order to save us time, we took a trail that had a "trail closed - falling rocks" sign in front of it for some reason. No rocks fell on us, and the trail, which was made up of Mordor-like stairs, shave a mile off the trek.
Things were going well, but soon we discovered who our true enemy was. It was not the rocks nor the cold nor the mountain. It was the Barbell Brigade. If you've never hiked Yosemite before, it's like climbing stairs for several hours. With the 50 pound pack, that's a lot of effort for your thighs. For some reason, Alan and Stephen went to the Barbell Brigade, the famous Los Angeles Gym, two days earlier and did dead lifts. Both are considerably jacked, but one of them hadn't worked out in a while. His legs started cramping, so we had to slow it down a bit. Luckily, we got to the campsite in the mountains before sundown. In total, it took us over 6 hours to hike 4.5 miles. We ate, set up camp, and prepared for the hike to the top the next day. Before we slept, I set my alarm to 6am so we could start early.
We woke up at 9am to another beautiful, clear day. After eating breakfast, going down to the river to filter water for the hike, and going the wrong way to the trailhead, we didn't really start the hike until 11am, leaving us less than 6 hours of sunlight. We hiked for a few hours. There was snow on the ground at this point, getting thicker as we hiked farther. The rangers warned that getting to the top might be impossible, and a guy we had passed who was going down the mountain the day before told us he attempted the same trail and couldn't do it. By this point, we only had a few hours left of sunlight and were probably several hours from the top.
We decided to call it. We hiked back down to the campsite, which took about half the time it did going up.
We packed up our site and hiked in the dark back to the car. That segment of the hike, which took 6+ hours to hike up, took us 2.5 hours to hike down. Oh, what relief when we got to the car! We drove to our sweet Air BNB in Fresno and slept like babies.
So originally, this trip was supposed to be 3 nights sleeping in the wilderness before heading to Los Angeles to spend a night in the city. As you have read, it was one night in the wilderness sandwiched between a few king-sized beds, so I wouldn't really call this trip a success. We definitely did not have the discipline to wake up when we should have, which was very detrimental to our schedule. Personally, Next time I'll a route that is more accessible for the season because even if we had gone farther to Cloud's Rest, I have no doubt the snow would have been coming up over our knees.
At least I got to spend some quality time with bros I don't get to see often. After the night in Fresno, we went to LA. I haven't been there in 4 years! It brought back memories. I randomly ran into a friend I hadn't seen since high school, beat another one of my friends in ping pong, which was satisfying because he talks so much mess, and ate all you can eat Korean barbecue. Good day.
Now for the next hike! I had to keep my hiking training up even after Yosemite because I'm going to hike the Outer Mountain Loop trail of Big Bend National Park in a few days. My friend gave me a book called Death in Big Bend to prepare me. Encouraging.